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IN THE WORKS: Miles Davis Biopic Based on His Son's Book, Dark Magus; George Tillman Jr. at the Helm

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood November 9, 2011 at 4:38PM

IN THE WORKS: Miles Davis Biopic Based on His Son's Book, Dark Magus; George Tillman Jr. at the Helm
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Miles Davis
Miles Davis

Beloved jazz musician Miles Davis is getting a biopic. George Tillman, Jr. (Soul Food, Men of Honor, Notorious) will develop the project in cahoots with Davis' eldest son, Gregory Davis, upon whose book, Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis, the screenplay is loosely based (an initial draft was written by Isaac Ferguson). Nick Davis Raynes and Ged Dickinson are producing. Raynes says the goal is to make a film that appeals to a worldwide audience, not just die-hard fans of the musician. “In much the same way that Walk The Line and Ray were able to open the world's eyes to the life stories of Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, respectively, we want to make a film that will do the same justice for Miles Davis. Miles, in his fifty-year career as a musician, transcends time, space and race."

For nearly fifty years, Davis was a crucial and innovative figure in the jazz scene. He struggled with drug addiction and died from the combination of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure at the age of 65 in 1991. Davis says he trusts Tillman and Raynes to "tell the true story of my father – without any sugar-coating. My father was an amazing man who believed in the promise of America. I know this film will do him justice.”

Back in July, Don Cheadle told New York Magazine of his hopes to get a Davis biopic made: "It's day by day. I actually just got off the phone with the studio executives about putting it together. It's a difficult time to make films, especially ones that don't have people flying or sequels or cars. So we're grinding, you know. We're struggling through, but it's going to happen." No word on what Tillman's project means for him.

This article is related to: Biopics, News, IN THE WORKS, Directors


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.