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Oh-Oh! Shooting On Jesse L. Martin's Marvin Gaye Biopic Stalls Due To Financing Issues

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 13, 2013 at 10:35AM

Well, this doesn't look good.
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Jesse Williams/Marvin Gaye
Jesse Williams/Marvin Gaye

Well, this doesn't look good. 

A month ago, we reported that shooting had been suspended for what was to be 2 weeks on Julien Temple’s Marvin Gaye biopic, Sexual Healing, starring Jesse L. Martin's (as Gaye), S. Epatha Merkerson (as Marvin’s Gaye’s mother, Alberta Cooper Gay), and Dwight Henry (as Marvin Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay, Sr.).

Focus Features International, the company that picked up the project, and shopped it at the Cannes Film Festival last month, said, in response to the announced 2 week hiatus, that it didn't have anything to do with financing, or any other problems that would hurt the production.

The suspension was said to be due to an unavailability of certain locations, which led to an unavailability of certain cast members, although we weren't told where and/or who exactly.

At the time, it was reported that some 70% of the shoot had already been complete.

Well, it's certainly been a lot longer than what was to be a 2-week hiatus, a month later. 

This morning, ScreenDaily is reporting that there's a possibility that the film might not see completion (at least, not anytime soon), because, Focus Features has apparently dropped out of the project, and are no longer involved!

Reasons for Focus' exited aren't given, unfortunately. Although it might have something to do with what follows.

Crew members are said to have not yet been paid fully for their work on the film, with one of the film's producers, Jimmy De Brabant, telling ScreenDaily that there's apparently a cash flow problem with the American investor backing the film; although he added that the funding that was promised by this investor had not yet arrived, but he emphasized patience with the film's cast and crew, suggesting that the money was coming.

So if you believe him, all will be well in the end. The money will come eventually, production will continue, everyone will get paid, and a film will indeed be made.

Cross your fingers - especially since most of the film has been shot (70% they say).

Although I'm still really curious to hear Focus Features' reasons for dropping out. There might be more to this than is public currently.

The film is set in the early 1980s, and focuses on the making of the Midnight Love album, while Gaye was living in Belgium - a drug addict, considered something of a has-been at the time.

Also Brendan Gleeson co-stars, playing Freddy Cousaert, who helped Marvin get back into the swing of things.

Grammy Award-winning producer Vassal Benford is executive producing, and will also compose the score. 

Principal photography is taking place in Luxemburg and Belgium.

I'm glad that this is finally moving forward, after so many years of starts and stops. Assuming all goes well in terms of financing to finish the film, I'd look for a likely film festival debut in the first half of 2014. In fact, it'll probably be on my 2014 Sundance or Cannes predictions lists.

Stay tuned...


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