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Marvin Gaye's Family Rejects Lenny Kravitz Casting In Biopic + Taking Legal Action To Block

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act December 3, 2012 at 11:16AM

And so it begins... This must happen every single time a biopic on the life of a public personality (in this case, a black public personality - alive or dead) is announced and/or cast.
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marvin gaye

And so it begins... This must happen every single time a biopic on the life of a public personality (in this case, a black public personality - alive or dead) is announced and/or cast.

Recall my post titled On Recent Biopics Of Black Public Figures - Their Legal Rights, As Well As Ethical/Moral Obligations?, which was posted a couple of weeks ago, and which investigated the struggles recent biopics of black public figures have experienced in trying to reach the screen; If you missed it, read it HERE.

Not that this will stop this particular film from being made; last we reported, necessary rights that would allow the film to move forward, have been cleared, so director Julien Temple doesn't have anymore legal issues to get in the way of his production.

And by "this" Im referring to this morning's news that Marvin Gaye's son (Marvin Gaye III), who's also a childhood friend of the man who's been cast to play his father, Lenny Kravitz, has reportedly asked Kravitz to "walk away from the role," adding that he's "shocked" that Lenny actually agreed to star in the project, and calls it "shameful.

So what's Marvin Gaye III's issue here? Same as many of the others... take a guess. Here's what he told TMZ:

"The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful ... [They're] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don't even know the whole story."

Does that sound familiar?

Recall my vices versus virtues in biopics about black public figures post...

Further, while he and Lenny are still very much pals today, Marvin III is hoping that he can talk to Lenny openly about this. He also said that he and other Gaye family members are going to meet with lawyers to figure out how they can stop the film from moving forward.

No comment from Kravitz yet.

It was about 2 weeks days ago that we first reported that Kravitz had been tapped to play Marvin Gaye in British filmmaker Julien Temple's previously titled Midnight Love project (named after the album Marvin Gaye recorded in Brussels in the early 80s).

The film, which S&A has been following since it was first announced early last year, will focus on the making of the Midnight Love album, while Gaye was living in Belgium - a drug addict, considered a has-been at the time.

If you recall, of all the Marvin Gaye films that have long been in development, Julien Temple's, at one time, seemed the most likely to be completed first; it was early in 2011 that it had been given a greenlight, and financing for its $8 million budget; although, at that time, there was no word on who was being considered for the title role.

Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Belgium late last year, but that didn't happen. there were some rights issues outstanding.

An earlier report on this said that EMI, which holds the rights to Gaye’s music, on behalf of his children, Nona GayeMarvin Gaye III, and Frankie Gaye, was understood to be ready to give the greenlight to Julien Temple's $8 million film. So it could be that Temple doesn't need the explicit script approval from Gaye's family, nor Berry Gordy (who also opposed the project) to move forward with the project, and it was strictly a music rights hold-up, which has now been resolved.

As for the other Marvin Gaye projects in the works, here's a quick rundown: We know that F. Gary Gray has long been trying to get his Marvin Gaye project off the ground; and we also know that Jesse L Martin has been attached to star as the soulful singer in a film directed by newcomer, Lauren Goodman; and director Cameron Crowe has been working on a Marvin Gaye project for about 5 years now, with news that Terrence Howard was in talks to play the man (previously offered to Will Smith).

Let's see where all this goes... if anywhere.

Some have wondered why there hasn't been as much outrage over this, as there was over Zoe Saldana's casting as Nina Simone. I'll leave that to you guys to sort out...


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