Miles Davis Was Born Today... Who'll Get To Play Him First On Film? Don Cheadle Or Snoop Dogg?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
May 26, 2012 12:29 PM
3 Comments
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Today in history... Miles Dewey Davis was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois, to Dr. Miles Henry Davis, a dentist, and Cleota Mae (Henry) Davis.

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

We've been tracking 1 particular project that's been in the works for some time now; I'm referring to that which Don Cheadle has been talking about making for some time.

My last post on that project was just yesterday, which revealed a rather major development. 

If you missed that post, here are the details:

Cheadle is taking his Miles Davis project to Boradway, with Kevin Navayne starring as Miles Davis (not Don Cheadle as we've long thought).

Don Cheadle will produced AND direct the Broadway show, shooting for a run in 2013.

The plan is to then make the film after the Broadway run, but with Cheadle in the starring role, and Navayne instead playing Marcus Miller, Davis's bassist.

All very interesting...

On a previous post on this, last December, while promoting House Of Lies, Cheadle revealed the following, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:

... It's three to five years average for most movies to get made, but often it's 10 or 15 years. This is the kind of movie the business 10 years ago may have leapt at. But now, you don't really see movies like this. We have a studio offer and we're trying to back into a budget number, like we always have to do, without gutting the piece. [...] It's not a biopic, per se. It's a gangster pic. It's a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in. Without throwing history away, we're trying to shuffle it and make it more cubist. The bulk of it takes place in '79, in a period where he actually wasn't playing. But we traverse a lot of it his life, but it's not a cradle to grave story...

So... a bit to chew on there.

As mentioned in another past post on the project, Cheadle already said that he wasn't interested in a reverential "all-of-us-bow-down-to-Miles-the-icon" film, but instead present him as a man, with what he called "wall-to-wall truth."

We can now add that it's a gangster pic (though what exactly he meant by that, I'm not sure, without him further elaborating); it'll take place primarily in 1979 (a period of mostly inactivity for Davis, musically; though, from the brief research I did, I'll add that it was the year in which he rekindled his romance with Cicely Tyson, overcame his cocaine addiction, while attempting, with difficulty, to regain his enthusiasm for the music, after not having played for about 3 years); and it'll be "more cubist" (likely an emphasis on "avant-garde" as in innovative and/or experimental, which speaks to hints he's given previously about it not being a traditional "cradle to grave story...").

He also once said that he wasn't too concerned with "facts;" and, again, I'm not too sure what he meant there since he says in another previous quote that he's interested in presenting "wall-to-wall truth.' Can you have what we call truth without facts? More elaborationg needed.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that another Mile Davis film was recently announced; this one with George Tillman Jr developing, 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 this project is to produce a more conventional biopic (the project's producers mentioned Walk The Line and Ray as potential models that they'll follow).

WSJ asked Cheadle about that competing film 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 a couple of folks who've read the script, is effing dope! Add to that these teases we continue to get from him about what to expect, and I'm definitely very curious about what this thing is going to look, sound and feel like.

But first, it's apparently headed for the bright lights of Broadway... maybe.

I should also remind you of the Marcus Garvey biopic rumors, that Don Cheadle's Crescendo Productions is supposed to be producing, written by Sonni Kojo the child of the late John Henrik Clarke, and starring none other than Kevin Navayne as the lead. Again... rumors.

But I have to wonder if maybe this Miles Davis project is what they have actually been cooking, and not a Marcus Garvey film. Or maybe there is indeed a Marcus Garvey film, which may be how Cheadle and Navayne were introduced, which led to the Miles Davis project.

So many questions... hopefully we'll get answers soon enough.

And, by the way, In related news, Snoop Dogg has also expressed his desire to play Miles Davis on the big screen. No, really. He did :)

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3 Comments

  • TallGRRL | May 28, 2012 1:01 AMReply

    Oh for the love of all the Gods and Goddesses combined. Snoop Dogg?
    REALLY?
    WTF.
    It's not there are any TRAINED ACTORS anywhere. What about Jay-Z? What happened, was 50 Cent not available?
    #blackactorsneedjobsnotrappers

  • J.E. Vizzusi | May 27, 2012 8:19 AMReply

    "Don Cheadle I believe would be dynamic and ideal in this very difficult role." Miles was a transformation of jazz genius, although the man himself not very well understood! One not so well known fact is that Miles Davis was not the first to so called "plug in". Before Miles was Don Ellis, another Trumpet player that attempted to change the face of Jazz. Miles fused Jazz & Rock but turned his back to the audiences he played to. The Screenplay should of course dwell on his evolution of Jazz but more importantly his personality traits that turned many off!
    For info on Don Ellis: www.DonEllisFilm.com
    JEV, Filmmaker

  • LeonRaymond | May 26, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    Snoop Dogg playing MILES oh yeah and I want to walk from here to Jupiter with out a space ship and space suit!!!

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