A James Brown biopic isn't new, in fact, it's quite old. Way back in 2006, Paramount and Imagine Entertainment brought on Spike Lee to direct the film that he would also rewrite, adding another pen to a draft that had already been through a number of hands including Steve Baigelman ("Feeling Minnesota") who got it rolling and Jezz and John Henry Butterworth ("Fair Game") who did the most "recent" draft. Word on the project has pretty much been quiet since but it appears that movement is still happening sort of.
Shadow and Act recently came across an interview (which you can watch below) with the daughter of the Godfather Of Soul, Dr. Yanna Brown, who spilled on where the project is right now, and most importantly, who may be up for the lead. For the longest time, Wesley Snipes was up for the lead role but he's got a number of legal problems right now so a couple of other candidates have apparently taking meetings with Brown, confirming they've reached out to Eddie Murphy and uh, Usher.
Murphy being approached is a bit ironic since the actor himself endorsed Snipes for the part a couple of years ago, during an interview with Conan O'Brien. "I think Wesley Snipes could play a great James Brown. Really, Wesley Snipes is a wonderful act," Murphy said. "Before the karate movies and stuff when Wesley first got into the movies, he did drama and comedy, he does everything. And he turned into the action dude, but Wesley has all the talent... James Brown isn't just singing and splits, you gotta be able to act, you gotta get chased in a car in a crack haze and shot at. Wesley could pull that off, you need to be an actor."
Well, with Usher in the mix, apparently that "being an actor" thing isn't such a big deal. Dr. Yanna Brown also said she liked Chris Brown for the role, after being impressed by his performance of "Night Train" at the Grammy Awards a few years ago. But yeah, we don't see that happening. We presume Spike Lee is still attached to direct and he said years ago that in his film, he wants whoever to take the lead to lip sync to James Brown's iconic songs. But with Usher being approached, perhaps that perspective has changed.
We hope this thing finally comes to fruition if only because James Brown's life is stuff made for the big screen, and with Spike Lee at the helm it has the potential to be fantastic, but it looks like they're still trying to nail down that lead actor just yet.