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Wendell Pierce Will Play Bluesman B.B. King In "B.B. King And I"

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 18, 2011 8:30 AM
3 Comments
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"I am set to play BB King in the movie "BB King and I". Just got my Lucille. Production dates aren't set yet."

Those words were Tweeted by Wendell Pierce about an hour ago.

News to me; it's not even listed on his IMDB page. So, naturally, I did some digging to see what I could find out about this B. B. King And I project, and here are the details:

The film is said to be based on the real-life events that led to B.B. King receiving his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Its synopsis, courtesy of the film's Facebook page (which you can "Like" HERE) reads: "Follow the journey of a young musician from the heartland of America to the dream laden streets of Hollywood where fate and a handshake led, a decade later, to a sunny day on Hollywood Boulevard that impacts the life of this legendary entertainer..."

As already noted, Wendell Pierce will star as B. B. King & Patrick Fugit will co-star as “Michael.”

I suppose Michael is the "I" in B. B. King And I. Michael Zanetis is listed as the film's co-screenwriter and producer, so I figured he was the "Michael" in the story; and further digging on anything that could shed any light on who "Michael" might be and what his part in all this is led me to THIS 1988 LA Times article titled Friendship Brings B.B. King to New Nightclub.

The content of the piece highlights the friendship that blossomed between B. B. King and Michael Zanetis - a once jazz-rock drummer, who would eventually become a nightclub owner where B. B. King later played.

It reads:

Something that happened several years ago at a funky old Orange County nightclub had a lot to do with B.B. King being on hand Wednesday night to open a fancy new one.

About seven years ago, a young jazz-rock drummer named Michael Zanetis worked his way backstage during one of King's periodic concerts at the Golden Bear, the venerable, now-defunct pop showcase near the Huntington Beach pier, so he could bring a copy of his band's new record album to the headliner.

That was the start of a friendship that grew over the years as Zanetis and his wife, Denice, renewed acquaintance with the gracious bluesman at numerous gigs in Southern California and Las Vegas.

About a year ago, Zanetis decided to switch from creating music as a session player and record producer to presenting it as a club owner. With backing from 14 investors, he converted a large, vacant restaurant on the Dana Point waterfront into Michael's Supper Club.

"When I found out I had gotten the lease and it was a go here, there was no one (besides King) I would have considered for the opening act," Zanetis, 34, said between King's two shows Wednesday night.

Before coming to California, Zanetis, a compact man with a light, trim beard, had helped manage four Holiday Inns that his family operated in the Midwest. "After four or five years doing that, and 10 years in the record business, I'm kind of fusing the two here," he said.

So there ya have it... Michael Zanetis more than likely is the Michael in the film, which doesn't seem to have a director yet.

I'm sure there's a lot more to this story, which we'll find out later. Chew on this for now...

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3 Comments

  • George | April 10, 2012 4:08 PMReply

    As myself being a longtime BB King Fan/ Collector / Archivist. I'm disgusted at this Law suit. Not to mention this guy Michael Zanetis who supposedly is the "I" in this movie has only been visible in BB's life only for a short period of time starting in 1981 when he met BB backstage in CA just to pedal his bands demo recording so BB could help him get noticed. Then years later in 1988, when BB performed 4 nights at Michaels Supper Club in Dana Point CA. Other than that, this Mike dude has nothing else to really base any relationship with B.B. King. This talk about how Mike "helped" BB get a star of the Walk of Fame". Do you really think the King of the Blues needs help with that?? Especially from some "Never Was -Has Been" Club Owner. Now this Mike guy is trying to tie in his measly name into Mr King’s. This is just Foul !!! Forget this bio pic and somebody needs to film a real life documentary of BB's life.

  • Dora | May 19, 2011 7:34 AMReply

    Why not let B.B. King choose the color of his friends? Sounds like you're just the audience who needs to see this movie about a friendship with no barriers. Looking forward to it...absolutely!

  • JMac | May 18, 2011 9:26 AMReply

    So basically the story revolves around the white guy who "befriends "BB Kind. Looking forward to it ... NOT.

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