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Production On Mary J. Blige's Nina Simone Film Postponed + Mary Will Spend Summer Studying For Role

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 11, 2011 12:31 PM
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Sooo... last we reported on this project, it had been financed to the tune of $10 million, cast (Mary J. Blige & David Oyelowo in the starring roles), and was booked to start filming at the end of May, much to the chagrin of a lot of you folks. I'd actually forgotten about it (I know, how could I, right?), until I saw this MSN report today that reminded me of the much-debated production.

Well, those of you who weren't too excited about the idea can breathe easy... at least for another 3 months, because shooting DID NOT actually begin at the end of May, as was initially reported.

Why? It had to be delayed until October, because, as you may recall, Mary J Blige later signed on to co-star in Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise and the rest of that film's cast, which is currently shooting.

It makes sense I suppose. Blije and her people must have felt that starring in the bigger budgeted Hollywood Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise was far more important to her burgeoning acting career, than starring in an independently-financed and produced movie based on Nina Simone's life whose box office potential was uncertain.

Though I tend to get a little worried about projects that at first are announced as sure-things, and then get pushed around for one reason or another, no matter how valid. So, I won't be too surprised if it's eventually announced that the project is dead, or if it gets postponed again for some other reason.

Another positive thing that this postponement means is that Ms Blige will have more time to prep for her performance as Nina Simone. The MSN report acknowledges this by stating that she plans to spend the summer "researching the life of late jazz and blues legend."

"I have a lot of YouTube [footage] of her to study her and I read about her and talked to different people about her... I need to become whoever she was and dig in... I got to get a piano coach and a dialect coach to play her. Acting is something that I'm testing and it's working. I don't think I'm gonna become Meryl Streep... but I'm going to do the stuff that people believe in me for," said Ms Blige.

Obvious guy says, uh, given that they were planning on shooting at the end of May, I assume she had already done all these things to prep for the part... and this summer's "research" and "studying" is just extra work because you have the additional time, right Mary?

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  • Nadell | July 12, 2011 8:50 AMReply

    Please, by all means do whatever it takes to do this role justice. Nina Simone is a legend. I'll admit I'm already leery about her playing Nina. And the simple fact that she said 'acting is something I'm testing' gives me more reason to be unsettled w/ her being chosen for the role. But, go ahead Mary J., do your thing.
    And I co-sign w/ @rugglebyc....she should go natural. Embody the very essence of Nina Simone and all that she stood for.

  • rugglebyc | July 12, 2011 8:26 AMReply

    Sorry dcmoviegirl but "I am not my hair" is a cop out. Separating Nina Simone from her hair, her message, her era, her place of birth, her style, or any other aspect of who she was, is half-stepping. Nina's boldnesss to be proud of her beauty in the face of forces that told her she should be otherwise was a huge part of who she was. She was a revolutionary. You cannot be timid or half-step when preparing to play the queen mother. Peace.

  • Shelly | July 12, 2011 3:40 AMReply

    The fact that Mary J is taking the role as seriously as she is tells me she'll do a great job portraying Nina Simone .. Any way Nina Simone was never main stream .. so people are not familiar with her character.
    So all Mary have to do is act like a tortured musician with an addiction and she will pull it off !!! Hell Beyonce did with Etta James !! And she was decent !!

  • Erin..simonerain | February 15, 2012 12:39 AM

    I disagree beyond measure! Nina Simone was not known by all but she was deeply felt and loved by her fans. Her music touches the few that need raw soul in his or her lives. If Nina Simone is your favorite artist, if you couldn't deny the fact that her soulful renditions move your spirit, you would understand how crucial it is to showcase Nina in her true form. I will be furious if my Nina is portrayed by anyone less than the best! I could go on...

  • wuif78sa8g | July 12, 2011 3:35 AMReply

    I know right? ha.. she’s supposedly been prepping for this role for a ‘minute’. We’ll see.

  • Orville | July 12, 2011 2:42 AMReply

    I like Mary J Blige but I am not sure she can act? I think Mary is a great singer but she hasn't proven herself as an actress. The critics will be paying close attention to Mary she's got to get some serious acting lessons to pull this performance off.

  • dcmoviegirl | July 12, 2011 2:24 AMReply


    So many of us don't understand that "I am not my hair" goes for ALL ways.

  • rugglebyc | July 12, 2011 2:06 AMReply

    How about spending a summer proudly wearing her hair natural. That would be a nice start.

  • BluTopaz | July 12, 2011 1:06 AMReply

    @Shelly--if all Nina is to you is 'a tortured musican with an addiction' then this flick was made for people like you.

  • Vanessa | July 12, 2011 1:06 AMReply

    I know right? ha.. she's supposedly been prepping for this role for a 'minute'. We'll see.

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