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Miles Davis Was Born Today... Updates On Biopics From Don Cheadle & George Tillman Jr

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 26, 2013 at 9:20PM

Today in history... Miles Dewey Davis was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois, to Dr. Miles Henry Davis and Cleota Mae (Henry) Davis.
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Miles Davis

Today in history... Miles Dewey Davis was born on May 261926 in Alton, Illinois, to Dr. Miles Henry Davis and Cleota Mae (HenryDavis.

I think many will find it odd that we still haven't seen a proper scripted film on the man, the legend.

For the last 2 years, we've been tracking 2 different projects that are currently in development.

First, Don Cheadle's unconventional bio, which he's been working to launch for what feels like several years now.

The most recent update we have on the project included an interview Cheadle gave The Hollywood Reporter, in which he talked about practicing trumpet during his lunch breaks, while on the set of his hit Showtime series, House of Lies, in preparation for his Mile Davis bio.

A title for the film has also been revealed to be Kill The Trumpet Player, which I'd guess that maybe Cheadle was inspired by French New Wave cinema pioneer François Truffaut's 1960 French crime drama film, Shoot The Piano Player. But I could be wrong. Just a guess.

Although Don has said a number of times that the film is definitely not your conventional biopic, instead calling it more of a "gangster movie," suggesting that he's likely taking some liberties with Miles Davis' story. I'm looking forward to hearing more, and seeing what the reaction to his ideas will be from audiences who haven't taken too kindly to biopics of black public figures that deviate from what we know to be fact.

Antoine Fuqua was previously said to be attached to direct the film. Of course Fuqua is probably best known for his adult crime dramas, so, with all that's currently in front of us with regards to Cheadle's project (including Cheadle's "gangster movie" reference), maybe the title comparison to Truffaut's film is more than just a guess on my part, and no accident.

And second, George Tillman Jr is attached to helm a film that will be loosely based on Gregory Davis' book, Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis (Gregory Davis being Miles Davis' eldest son). 

The plan for Tillman's project, which will be called Miles Davis, Prince of Darkness, is to produce a more conventional biopic (the producers previously mentioned Walk The Line and Ray as potential models that they'll follow).

The most recent update we have on this is Tillman's revelation during a January interview at the Sundance Film Festival (where his latest film, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, premiered), sharing that he was working on the film's script, and was very excited about it, adding that he felt the pressure to essentially "get it right."

WSJ asked Cheadle about that competing film, last spring, and he had this to say in response:

That's something I just heard about in the last month. Look, if the world is ready to have two Miles Davis movies, fantastic. He should have eight or 10 of them [...] We're working with the family and we have all the music. There's another period of music, about three or four years [that the other project appears to have rights to]. These estates are sometimes bifurcated. We have what we need for our film. Look, God bless. If there's another quality movie about this legend, that's great. I don't think anyone's going to be making the kind of movie we're making.

We continue to hang on his every word regarding this yet-to-be-made film, which, from all I've heard from, is supposed to be a very interesting, original take on Davis. Add to that these teases we continue to get from him about what to expect, and I'm definitely very curious about what the film is going to look, sound and feel like, and hope he gets the money he needs to get it done!

But I expect Tillman's more conventional film to get the funding go-ahead first.

Happy birthday Miles Davis!

As my gift to you all, here's a stream of the entire Kind Of Blue album, considered one of the most influential albums ever made, and also one of my all-time favorites:


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