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Mary J Blige And David Oyelowo Set To Film Nina Simone Biopic This Month

by Cynthia Reid
May 10, 2011 6:35 AM
21 Comments
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Well, it looks like it's going to happen. The Nina Simone biopic, titled Nina, has probably invoked more emotion on this site than any other post (excluding Tyler Perry) but Mary J Blige told US Magazine recently that she's taking acting lesson and filming is set to begin later this month. In fact, Deadline states filming will begin May 23.

If you recall, the film will focus on Simone’s relationship with Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson which will be played by British actor David Oyelowo.

Cynthia Mort, who’s credits include writing and producing several episodes of popular TV series Roseanne and Will And Grace, is listed at the screenwriter and director of the project.

The UK company backing the project, Ealing Studios, has merged with Prescience allowing them more access to funding. “The beauty of this merger is that we now have access to Prescience’s money,” says Will Machin, Ealing’s head of distribution. Machin will run Ealing Metro. “There are very few companies in the indie marketplace that can offer what we can now," he said.

In addition to the Nina film, Ealing Metro is slated to film Better Living Through Chemistry which stars Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Garner and shoots in July.

I expect more info will be circulating in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

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21 Comments

  • Sam Waymon, Brother/mgr./confidante of Nina. | May 14, 2011 5:53 AMReply

    I was with my sister for over 10 yrs. as friend, mgr.
    confidante, organist and singer..recording artist, and I promised my sister i would carry on the family legacy
    being that i am "old school" and went thru those awful
    violent, 60's protest with her...so let me see how MJB
    does with Nina's role with Clifton.
    by the way, MJB is NOT the Queen of Soul, that
    crown belongs to Aretha Franklin...people should get
    their info correct ...yes i met clifton.

  • NinaSimoneDeservesBetter | May 12, 2011 6:03 AMReply

    @ CareyCarey WRONG! ARETHA is The Queen of Soul and don't you forget it.

  • CareyCarey | May 11, 2011 11:31 AMReply

    Cynthia said: "There are some many nuances that Mary needs to learn"

    And

    "it’s imperative they get this right because “older” folks are definitely more critically. Jaime Foxx nailed Ray Charles because he’s an excellent imitator"

    Excellent points, and let me tell you why I believe so.

    In reference to nuaces, I am a human that interacts with other humans, okay. So as we experience more of this thing called life, we begin to pick up little nuaces from those around us that tells us if a person is real, pretentious, fake or phony, which then tells us how we should deal with said individual(s).

    I view actors in the same light. They have to give me all the little nuaces that goes along with whatever emotion/feeling they're trying to project. To some degree, any actor can "cry" or get "mad", but before the tears & anger, and along with them, there's alway subtle emotions, small nuances that ride along. Take for instance telling a lie. It's hard to tell the same lie the second time around, because we generally don't practice that lie. And a lie from the jump is not based anything real (no foundation), so what the reference? Uuuum, no real emotions.

    Anyway, you mentioned .“older” folks being more critically. Again, I believe that's true because they've experience - over and over and over - all the feelings and emotions that the actors are trying to convey. A person gotsta come real, or you know, black folks do not have a problem with saying miss me with that Bullsh*t. The nature of our existence on this soil called the USA, required that we read a man quick and in a hurry to decide if he’s running a game of sorts, or could be trusted. A blink, a shift of an eye, the slight turn of the head and the pressure between one’s lips can give away so much. Shit, even the house negro couldn’t trusted. So now we have this innate ability (especially as we get older) to discern right from wrong, and real from fake ass.

    So, although I don’t know much about Nina Simone’s career or her personal life, I can safely assume she went through some things. So it goes without saying that although Mary J, can blow, the question is, did she put in the time required to give an effective portrayal of Ms. Simone? I can’t feel something if a person is not giving it away in all it's rightful flavors. I know when pleather is not leather and when filler is not pie.

    Besides, acting ain’t no joke. I wonder if the average person knows how hard it is to repeat an emotion/feeling and/or action over and over (while remembering lines), and maintain the same passion and nuances each time? Repetition repetition repetition, control control control.

    You said it all about Jamie Fox, when he’s required to “act” without direct reference to a specific character or person, he falls short. But imitation is his thang and he is one of the best.

  • Deveal2012 | May 11, 2011 10:54 AMReply

    @Cynthia Mary J Blige has been slated to play this role for years so as far as her preparation for the film im sure it was more than just a couple of acting classes that you read about be smart you are not behind the scene & you do not know this woman who is a great artist in her own right never forget that. MjB is the Queen of soul and Nina Simone is the high preistess and we all know the queen is more powerful. But mary j blige has more talent , starpower & money than all of you and way more soul shes gonna do great and win lots of aweard then youll be on here like oh Mary shocked me the movie was amazing . i can see it now

  • JMac | May 11, 2011 5:00 AMReply

    True, not a lot of people are familiar with Nina Simone - I've only seen a couple of her performances in school but honestly I've never considered Mary J as having international appeal - not like Beyitche, Fivehead or crackhead (or whatever they're calling Whitney nowadays). I get the strong feeling that when this movie comes out peeps overseas will be googling Mary's name just like people here will be googling Nina's.

    I hope she does well and draws out her own experiences without holding back. Also hope this will be a performance-filled piece allowing Mary J to shine as brightly as she does in concert.

    And Deveal2012 - Mary J is NOT the Queen of Soul. Don't make Aretha come up here and slap you.:P

  • BluTopaz | May 11, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    There's a youtube video of a Nina Simone performance where she basically has a meltdown in front of a European audience. They are almost silent while she asked and answered her own questions about what is love; she looks dazed and at one point cries how 'do you all realize how awful it is that a song like this had to be written!!' From all I have heard about Mary, she probably feels that since she's had a life full of drama that she is up to portraying someone with Nina's depth.

    I've only seen her in one of Tyler Perry's movies and she wasn't horrible, but she was a side character and not playing a legend. No one believed Miss Ross could lose herself in Billie Holiday and she proved everyone wrong. But something tells me this is being produced as mostly a star vehicle for Mary.

  • Cynthia | May 11, 2011 3:08 AMReply

    You know Carey, I was originally on that "let's stay positive" bandwagon and secretly hoping she would blow us ALL away. But I recently read a statement where she made it sound like that was all she had to do...take a few acting lessons. *sigh* Nina was a "worldwide star" and you can't treat it lightly. She probably was more popular overseas than here in the US and folks will be grading Mary to the extreme. Then, I was totally shocked to read she hasn't had any contact with Nina's daughter. *sigh again* There are some many nuances that Mary needs to learn. Honestly, she should have taken time from the spotlight and dedicated herself to this project for a few months...submerging herself into Nina's life and world. Another issue, this movie will probably have an older demographic so it's imperative they get this right because "older" folks are definitely more critically. Jaime Foxx nailed Ray Charles because he's an excellent imitator. I was watching him the other day do an imitation of Monique that was hilarious. If you aren't naturally talented that way, you have to work extra hard.

  • CareyCarey | May 11, 2011 2:34 AMReply

    Hey yawl, I'm dropping by on this one so you guys can put me up on a little game.

    See, I 've it said in so many ways and so many time that if a person decides to write a book, they should write about something they know.

    So, although I am not writing a book (here), I'm going to run with that mindset. I'm going to talk about what I know. Conversely, there's obviously some things I do not know.

    First, I have to admit that I am not that overly familiar with Nina Simone. And that brings up a very important question. Who is the target audience for this movie? Other than the attachment of Mary J Blige, what's the appeal/attraction to the average movie goer ?

    I mean, I am an average joe black man in America, who has snapped my fingers and stomped my feet (for a few decades) at every form of black music, but Nina was never blowing up the airways. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great artist, but she was never on the lips of the vast majority. Come on now, just think about the years that she was doing her thang. That only, takes her off the table for millions. I never heard anyone say... “Nina had dropped another one. I’m going out to get mine today”

    I know jug is still wet behind the ears and MaryAllahBlige has voiced her position, but maybe somebody can pull my coat on what I may be missing. Lets see, JMac is 39 so I know she didn’t fall asleep listening to Nina Simone but it seems as if NinaDeservesBetter, has a connection. Hey, our old school playah, Segio, has probably danced with Nina, herself, until the wee hours of the morning. I wonder?

    But let me give my 2 cents on Mary J. Can she sing? Absolutely yes. Would I make the following statement....

    “Playing a movie role like this is perfect for her! Mary has conviction, soul, range, presence, and a legacy…possibly greater than Nina’s…and Aretha’s”

    Absolutely not. Come on, as I said, Nina would not be in my top 10 (possibly 20), but to say Mary J is “greater” than Aretha, makes no sense at all.

    Can Mary J Blige act? Well, everyone can act, but the question is... how do you spell respect?

    In short, I’m riding with Cynthia “I think this is about “international appeal” and they (Ealing Metro) are betting on Mary”

    If Jump The Damn Broom ( with all it’s popular stars)only made 15 million on 2000 plus theaters, I doubt if this movie can make it’s money here in the new day of the USA.

  • Nadell | May 11, 2011 2:34 AMReply

    I think Erika Alexander from Living Single would have been a good choice

  • James Madison | May 10, 2011 12:57 PMReply

    Nothing against Mary J Blige, but I would rather see a unknown singer/actress portray Nina Simone.

  • Antoine | May 10, 2011 11:41 AMReply

    I love me some Mary! I can't wait until she shut the mouths of the HATERS up!

  • Jug | May 10, 2011 7:46 AMReply

    And quietly, "acting classes" for most stars is code for "puppetry" & "line readings".

    But I think Mary ain't gonna go out there half steppin'. I think she'll do fine

  • Jug | May 10, 2011 7:13 AMReply

    @JMac-LMAO AMEN!

  • JMac | May 10, 2011 6:59 AMReply

    I'm sure a few months of acting classes is all it takes to get a non-actor in shape to star in a movie. Someone needs to send Mary that Lennix video link. Maybe she'd reconsider.

  • Cordell | May 10, 2011 6:40 AMReply

    Wait how are they going to film this movie at the end of the month? Isn't Mary suppose to start filming Rock of Ages this month also? I honestly think they should go with someone like Nicki Micheaux, Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise for the role.

  • NinaDeservesBetter | May 10, 2011 6:04 AMReply

    I forgot to mention that Nina Simone's daughter doesn't support the decision to cast Mary J. Blige....That's very telling to me.

  • NinaDeservesBetter | May 10, 2011 6:01 AMReply

    Well "MaryAllahBlige" you discredited your argument when you made this delusional statement: "Mary has conviction, soul, range, presence, and a legacy…possibly greater than Nina’s…and Aretha’s." Give me a break! Nina Simone deserves more than having her remarkable and complex life hijacked by hollywood as a sensationalized cash cow. I'm convinced it's all about money. Any serious project that meant to perserve Nina's legacy would cast an experienced actress and use Nina's own inimitable voice. This is shaping up to be another "Lady Sings the Blues".

  • Jug | May 10, 2011 5:53 AMReply

    @Cynthia-Oh of course. Strictly sarcasm :-P

  • MaryAllahBlige | May 10, 2011 5:48 AMReply

    Mary is the most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years (Per Billboard.com), she's the Queen of R&B. Playing a movie role like this is perfect for her! Mary has conviction, soul, range, presence, and a legacy...possibly greater than Nina's...and Aretha's.

    Mary is the Queen of diversity as well. She has the distinction of being the only artist to have Pop, R&B, Gospel & Rap Grammy(s).

    While all you retarded ugly long face monkeys continuously to voice an invalid opinion, this project will start shooting in a few weeks.

    Mary will deliver. She'll win more awards.

    Queen Mary Allah Blige is here to stay!

  • Cynthia | May 10, 2011 5:22 AMReply

    I think this is about "international appeal" and they (Ealing Metro) are betting on Mary.

  • Jug | May 10, 2011 5:15 AMReply

    *sigh* Singing aside, why is Viola Davis not playing this role?

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