DreamWorks to Produce New Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic
by Christopher Campbell
May 19, 2009
It's been more than 30 years since Abby Mann's Emmy-winning miniseries King, so it's about time someone made a feature biopic about Martin Luther King Jr., right? That someone just so happens to be Steven Spielberg, who will produce such a film for DreamWorks, along with Oscar-winning screenwriter Suzanne de Passe (Lady Sings the Blues) and her Humpty Dumpty co-producer Madison Jones. Though MLK has appeared as a character in many films since his assassination in 1968, this is apparently the first to be approved by King's estate, meaning it will have access to all of the civil rights leader's intellectual property.
Obviously this is going to be one heck of an Oscar-baited biopic, and Spielberg will have to find just the right person to play MLK. In the past he's been portrayed by actors including James Earl Jones, Paul Winfield, LeVar Burton, Robert Guillaume, Courtney B. Vance, Jeffrey Wright, MLK's son Dexter King and even Jaleel White (aka "Urkel"). But Academy Awards aside, this is a film that should be made and should be great, because even though we celebrate his birthday every January, there's still likely a lot of young people in America who don't know just how important of a man MLK was (and still is) and it's worth informing them.
Is Spielberg, who gave us Amistad and The Color of Purple, the right man to bring us this ambitious biopic? I think so, especially partnered with Madison Jones, who has executive produced MLK specials for CNN and TBS. And definitely relative, he and de Passe also co-produced President Obama's Inaugural Ball. For more info on the news, head over to Variety. And to watch his unforgettable "I Have a Dream" speech, head over to YouTube.
Reader Feedback - 20 Comments
PJ H on May 19, 2009
Well...Jeffrey Wright was born to play this roll! If you have not seen him, please go rent Boycott.
CJW on May 19, 2009
you know terrance howard feels like he deserves this roll.
Jont on May 19, 2009
I completely agree with Jeffrey Wright. I think he'd be the best choice. Just as long as they don't get Jamie Foxx.
Joseph on May 19, 2009
Jeffrey Wright already played MLK in Boycott. I doubt that Spielberg would want some one who has played the role. He's probably going to cast an unknown actor or a big shot like Terrance Howard.
PJ H on May 19, 2009
No Terrence Howard please. "What's going on, Iron Man?" "What's going on with that hustle and flow, man?" "What's going on with that civil rights, man?"
Henry Jones Sr. on May 19, 2009
Terrence Howard was actually in Boycott, also. Maybe in this he and Wright can switch roles. Howard can play MLK and Wright can play Ralph Abernathy.
Christopher Campbell on May 19, 2009
wm on May 19, 2009
They should cast Cuba Gooding Jr.
Mike on May 19, 2009
I think Shia Lebutt should be MLK But in all seriousness I was upset after reading the title. But once I read that Spielberg was involved and King's family is ok with it and everything, I am very much interested and excited to see this film.
Dan W on May 19, 2009
Silver on May 19, 2009
Spielberg is a good director, and after Schindler's List, I have no doubt that he could pull this off. But there's an inherent problem with doing an MLK biopic. Nobody before or after Dr. King can orate like he could. Nobody. The power of his speeches is simply incredible, and no matter how many times I hear them, I am floored. No actor alive today could reproduce that. Doing a Ray Charles biopic is different, because he is imitatable. Dr. King is not; Obama may be heralded as America's next great orator, but even he doesn't come close. So I'm a little wary of this movie.
DinoChow on May 19, 2009
Bring Jeffrey Wright as MLK
Fisherr on May 20, 2009
DinoChow, every other black preacher I come across does a fairly decent imitation of Doc King. None of them have anything as important to say (IMO), but the delivery is close.
kevjohn on May 20, 2009
Creighton on May 20, 2009
Robert Downey Jr ftw!!!!
Aaron on May 20, 2009
Sean Penn. He played MILK maybe he can do MLK as well. Joke aside, I can't find anyone who looks like MLK. Totally Looks Like can't either.
AprilCoolsDay on May 21, 2009
how about anthony mackie?
reddhottron on May 25, 2009
I am Maria Landry Ross resident of Dallas and founder of Ross Flags and Designs and creator of the first-ever Dr. Martin Luther King Flag. The flag idea was launched less than a year ago after being victim to a hate crime in Houston, Texas. The Ross Family awoke to a 7foot cross burning on the morning of Juneteenth, A Milestone in Human Rights for African-Americans which celebrated the momentous announcement in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves. Instead of being bitter, this life-changing incident ignited a fire within the Ross Family to do something about the inherent cause of the incident. The Ross Family is licensed by Intellectual Properties Management (the exclusive licensor of The King Estate) to create, manufacture, and market the first flag honoring Dr. King! I am writing to you to express my request for you to embrace the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and share the story! Our goal is to team up with sponsors to donate flags to school districts throughout our nation. The culmination of the last 8 years stimulated a desire and an inspiration to design and create a visual symbol that exemplifies pride, shows respect, and stimulates dialogue, all critical in addressing the continued racial tension in our country brought on by ignorance and intolerance. The flag’s slogan, “Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality” offers a glimpse into how far Dr. King’s dream has come. We feel Dr. King’s flag is a visual symbol that will heighten public and social awareness and is a tool that will impact and empower all generations. This simple symbol can’t remedy all ills but it certainly is a great start. It reminds all of us, especially our educators and administrators, to teach in our schools the importance of what Dr. King stood for. Our young boys and girls can dream and reach far beyond into infinity. The role model of Dr. King and your Diversity Inclusion Program within your organization is a guiding light for those dreams. Let’s afford our children with tool and visual aid (Dr. King’s Flag) as a reminder that anything is possible. We would like to ensure that our schools and students nationwide know and appreciate Dr. King’s contributions to society. Too often the historical legacy of black accomplishment is ignored. Your organization can offer generous support by partnering with Ross Flags…enabling young black men and women the continuation of exposure to social and cultural options. As a young girl, myself… in the late 60’s, early 70’s… Dr. King’s dream was my dream. Although the dream was ripped from me by the horrific incident of a cross-burning on my front lawn of my suburban home, I did not falter but instead only wavered momentarily in time. The teachings of the late Dr. King, one of many prominent African-American Alpha Men encouraged me and inspired me to reach beyond my comfort zone and soar to new heights. Please make note that Ross Flags and Designs, the only African-American grassroots flag start-up company has had strong interest from schools, educators and churches, however the problem arises with economics. Most school and church budgets have been slashed, and outside of necessary purchases, spending is frozen. As much as we’d like to donate the flag to every school, it’s impossible. « The Dr. Martin Luther King flag is full of symbolism: Unity, Service and Sacrifice. « The expression on his face say: "I have seen the promised land; I may not get there with you." « The stars and stripes from the American flag represent justice and equality. The Slogan at bottom of flag reads “Yesterday’s Dream Tomorrow’s Reality” The ground work was laid for the entire human race…Dr. King sacrificed his life. The 23rd Psalm - "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he restoreth my soul." We have attached “Our Story” and “Mission Statement” for your review. Feel free to call or email us about anything you need answered. 909-597-8600, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Ross on Jun 9, 2009
DinoChow, Do not be wary of this movie, though you've never met him, there is an actor who can reproduce Dr. King. I was like you until I heard this man at an event one day. He lives in Fayetteville NC. His name is Stephon Ferguson. See some snippets from some of his work at TheDreamLives.com. Trust me, he is King through and through and before it's said and done, everyone will know about this man.
Steve Blackmon on Jul 6, 2009
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