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Universal's James Brown Biopic Gets An Official Title And Release Date - Chadwick Boseman Stars

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 29, 2013 11:45 AM
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James Brown in Alex Gibney's "Mr. Dynamite."
James Brown in Alex Gibney's "Mr. Dynamite."

Universal has set the theatrical release date for its James Brown biopic for Friday, October 17, 2014.

In addition, it's also given the film an official title. It'll be called Get On Up, likely as a nod to Brown's 1970 track, Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.

Universal further says the film will "give a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of Brown, taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century."

Chadwick Boseman is set to play Brown in the Tate Taylor directed film, with talk that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer could be reuniting with their The Help director, with supporting roles in the film.

Also True Blood star, Nelsan Ellis, is said to be in Taylor's sights for a supporting role.

No word yet, however, on what roles Davis, Spencer and Ellis are being considered for.

Taylor previously announced plans to begin shooting his James Brown biopic this fall, with Brian Grazer producing alongside Mick Jagger, for Universal Pictures.

This would make it the second real-life public personality Boseman will play on screen. Earlier this year, he starred as Jackie Robinson in Brian Helgeland's biopic on the history-making baseball legend, 42.

This is a film that Spike Lee was previously long-attached to direct, but was replaced by Tate Taylor earlier this year.

Taylor plans to shoot the film in Mississippi, including filming at the Mississippi Coliseum on the state fairgrounds, where Brown performed a concert in February 1969. 

And as for whether James Brown (whom Grazer said he met several times while he was alive, and even discussed the project) was at all concerned about a warts and all telling of his life story on film, Grazer said he seemed OK with that.

The screenplay has been penned by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth (they wrote the script for Fair Game, the Naomi Watts and Sean Penn film).

So, essentially, James Brown, The Godfather Of Soul's story will be told on screen by a pair of white writers, white producers and a white director.

That's progress for ya...

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  • skylar flynn | August 29, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    It's so interesting that non-working industry heads have the time to steer working actors away from groundbreaking roles. Spike wasn't able to get the story done and i'm sure that not one person commenting has the power to get a green light on a project. Folks should shut up and make some things happen. I willing to bet that you would have less time for all these silly comments.

  • skylar flynn | August 30, 2013 1:00 PM

    Your assumption is incorrect, I am black women raised by and around strong black people.

    Please stop the "crabs in a barrel"cycle!

  • skylar flynn | August 30, 2013 1:00 PM

    Your assumption is incorrect, I am black women raised by and around strong black people.

    Please stop the "crabs in a barrel"cycle!

  • CC | August 29, 2013 7:24 PM

    Well Ms. Skylar, Spike's removal from this project may have something to do with the color of his skin and the story he would tell (Unlike "42" and The Butler, this is not the story of a passive black man) but you'd probably insist that's a silly argument because you're obviously NOT a person of color.

  • Aaron | August 29, 2013 1:30 PMReply

    How can you take Spike Lee off this film? SMH...well only the ones with money seem to control your image. How are any new black filmmakers going to get a chance when you can't even tell your own iconic figures stories. Good luck Ava on making "Selma." Hope they don't take it away from you.

  • CareyCarey | August 29, 2013 1:06 PMReply

    You might say I got a mark on my back where I never knew there was one. They fixed it where I could see it myself. I was marked in many different ways with names for example, and each one has a different story behind it. As a kid growing up in a whore house I was called little junior. As a teenager in prison they called me music box. On the road in the fifties they called me Mr. Dynamite, the hardest working man in show business. In the 60's when I said die on your feet don't live on your knees, I became soul brother # 1. Then they called me the Godfather of Soul. And they called me his bad self when the IRS and police came down on me. In the 80's and the 90's I was known as the minister of the new super heavy funk to a new generation of hip-hoppers and rappers.

    In the beginning you know, there was the heavens and earth you know, and there was James Brown right there with a big "E" on his forehead for entertainment. ~ Wyclef

    He could be a tyrant... he could be generous. He could be extremely patient and tolerant... and he could be demanding beyond reason ~ Studio Exec

    He not only had the #1 record, he had changed the whole cultural paridigm of Black America. He wasn't a hot artist, he was a way of life. ~ Rev. Al Sharpton

    Excerpts from Jame Brown's autobiography

    Memo to Chadwick Boseman and the 3 blind mice: CHADWICK, NOOOOOOOOOO! Please-Please-Please, It's A Man's World, don't put your hands on it, pass the peas... turn around and walk away.

    "Are There Any Stories About Black People That You Think Should Only Be Told By Black People?" ~ Tambay Obenson

    "Culture is portrayed, conveyed, and communicated through nuance in behavior, movement, gesture. This decision [The Godfather Of Soul's story will be told on screen by a pair of white writers, white producers and a white director] makes it clear that they are not concerned with mastering these nuances. The movie may end up being good, but it will never be right."~ Terrence Nance

    You tell'em Nance, something just ain't right.

    btw, the entire (1hr, 20min)Soul Survivor - The James Brown Story is on youtube,

    Watch James do his thang and hear him speak. It's not bad.

  • CareyCarey | August 29, 2013 2:14 PM

    Another thang...

    I remember picking up one of the major magazines, Look Magazine... and they had a cover story - James Brown: Is He The Most Important Black Man in America? and in many ways he was. James Brown's records were more like movements unto themselves, and it had a tremendous impact on a whole generation of Black Americans. ~ Al Sharpton

    "Say It Loud -I'm Black and I'm Proud just drove me crazy on a dance floor as a young kid and hear this record come out so bold and so strong, that took us from being coloreds and negros and all these other derogatory words. You know it was a strong affect of hearing brother James Brown". ~ Afrika Bambaataa - Musician

    Chadwick, can you hear us? DON'T DO IT... don't let Harry, Moe and Curly lead you down a path of self-destruction. This is James Brown, the man who gave us "I'm Black and I'm Proud, not the passive Jackie Robinson. So Please Please Please, as James said, "Maybe the Next Time" but not now, you haven't been in the oven long enough.

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