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We Now Know What Story Don Cheadle's Miles Davis Film Will Tell + Zoe Saldana Is On-board

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 7, 2013 10:01 AM
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Miles Davis

Updating last week's post on Don Cheadle's long-in-development Miles Davis project, we finally have some idea of what story it will tell.

Until today, all we've known about the upcoming film is that, as Don has said, it definitely will not your conventional biopic, instead calling it more of a gangster movie, suggesting that he might be taking some liberties with Miles Davis' story.

With international film financing, sales and distribution company, IM Global, boarding the project, with plans to shop worldwide rights at the American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles, which kicks off today, a description of the film has surfaced in AFM's catalogue, which I'm staring at right now. It reads:

After his record label steals his comeback album before he’s ready for it to be heard, Miles Davis hunts it down with a journalist and a junkie jazz musician.

I'll rely on those of you who are experts Miles Davis' life to chime in on whether the above description mimics anything that actually happened in reality. It doesn't sound familiar to me, given what I do know of the man.

The AFM catalogue also lists Zoe Saldana and Ewan McGregor as cast members, along with Cheadle. 

Both actors were previously said to be "in talks," so I suppose we can now assume that they are officially on board. Although no word on what roles each will play. But given the above logline, I'd guess that one of them will play the journalist and the other, the junkie jazz musician.

Cheadle is listed as the film's director (Antoine Fuqua was previously said to be attached).

Also worth noting, Herbie Hancock is on board as executive producer and musical supervisor.

The title is Kill The Trumpet Player, although I've also seen it called Shoot The Trumpeter. But I believe it's the former.

I can only guess that maybe Don Cheadle was inspired by French New Wave cinema pioneer François Truffaut's 1960 crime drama, Shoot The Piano Player. But I could be wrong. Just a guess.

So now we know a little more. Word is that there's a lot of interest in the project, so we might have another update on this post-AFM.

By the way, there's a second Miles Davis film in the works, which George Tillman Jr is attached to direct. The film 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).

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More: Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana

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  • Julius Hollingsworth | November 9, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    Alimi Ballard could play Miles Davis.

  • CC | November 9, 2013 3:34 PM

    Quick... when you think of Miles Davis, what's the first image that comes to your mind?

    Many would see a brooding sort of fellow. Some would see a trumpet player with his back to the crowd. I doubt anyone would see a black man with a shiny bald head. So Alimi is immediately disqualified unless he borrows one of Samuel Jackson's wigs.

    But this in not Jackie Brown, Black Snake Moan nor Pulp Fiction (this is the story of the very serious Miles Davis), so the Sand Man will usher Alimi off the stage.

  • tolly devlin | November 9, 2013 9:55 AMReply

    This does not sound like anything I have read concerning Miles Davis.

  • CareyCarey | November 7, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    Given my drothers, I'd flip the scripts. George Tillman Jr. would be at the helm of Kill The Trumpet Player, passing Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis to Don Cheadle. That can never happen but here's my thoughts.

    It's certainly not wise to judge a book by its cover but "Dark Magus" Jekyll & Hyde Miles Davis, screams Don Cheadle and the title is just more intriguing than Kill The Trumpet Player. The classic Kill The Mockingbird was certainly a bell ringer and a title like Kill The Messenger: Malcolm X, would most assuredly raise eyebrows, but "Kill The Trumpet Player", I don't think so.

    In respect to Don Cheadle, there's arguably not a more appropriate actor who could embody the heart and soul and looks of Miles Davis. Miles had a dark, brooding and mysterious persona, which again, speaks to Mr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. And, we all know Don Cheadle can go there but who would George Tillman cast in that role?

    Speaking of Mr. Tillman, although I personally enjoyed watching his "Mister & Pete" moreso than Steve McQueen's "12 years", but I don't know if a film of this nature is in his wheelhouse? As a producer and director on films like Roll Bounce, Barbershop and Soul Food, he has certainly left his mark, but what can we say (on a positive note) about Notorious? Well, the movie did showcase black actors - CHECK. It also highlighted the life and times of a "controversial" black entertainer - CHECK. However, on the down side, I believe he chose the wrong actors ( in several roles) and/or his director's skills were lacking. In short, in my opinion, Notorious was a major disappointment.

    Going back to my original suggestion of musical chairs and flipping the scripts, if I was the producer who was keeping an eye on my money, aside from who I thought would be the "best" director, I would consider my target audience. I mean, Don Cheadle's and Zoe Saldana's names ring a wide bell, not so for George Tillman Jr.

    And, George's groove zone and his best work is more suited for black audiences.

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