Jesse L. Martin has replaced Lenny Kravitz in Julien Temple’s Marvin Gaye biopic
ABOVE PHOTO: Jesse L. Martin.
By Tambay A. Obenson
What an interesting turn of events! Fans who've been calling for a Jesse L. Martin/Marvin Gaye biopic just might be getting their wish!
It's been a long journey for the various Marvin Gaye projects that we've been following since this site was created almost four years ago.
Our last Marvin Gaye biopic entry was in December when it was reported that Marvin Gaye's son (Marvin Gaye III), who's also a childhood friend of the man who had been cast to play his father, Lenny Kravitz, in Julien Temple's Sexual Healing, had asked Kravitz to "walk away from the role," adding that he was "shocked" that Lenny actually agreed to star in the project, calling it "shameful."
What exactly was Marvin Gaye III's issue here? Same as many of the others. Here's what he told TMZ:
"The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful ... [They're] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don't even know the whole story."
Recall my post on vices versus virtues in biopics about black public figures...
Further, while he and Lenny are still very much pals today, Marvin III was hoping that he could talk to Lenny openly about the project. He also said that he and other Gaye family members were going to meet with lawyers to figure out how they could stop the film from moving forward.
I don't believe Kravitz ever responded publicly to any of this.
It was about two weeks prior (in mid-November) that we first reported that Kravitz had been tapped to play Marvin Gaye in British filmmaker Julien Temple's previously titled "Midnight Love" project.
However, revealed this afternoon, Jesse L. Martin, who himself was attached to a different Marvin Gaye biopic, has now replaced Kravitz in Temple's film. No public statement on why this replacement happened.
Martin had long been attached to star in another Marvin Gaye biopic that was to be directed by newcomer, Lauren Goodman, and produced by James Gandolfini. Last we reported on that project was at least a year ago, when Martin, seemingly dejected at challenges he was facing in getting his project off the ground, said, in an interview, that he didn't think it would happen, adding that we might actually see it on the stage first before it becomes a film.
The remaining rundown of Marvin Gaye projects still in Limbo looks something like this: We know that F. Gary Gray has long been trying to get his Marvin Gaye project off the ground; and director Cameron Crowe has been working on a Marvin Gaye project for almost five years, with most recent news stating that Terrence Howard was in talks to play the man (previously offered to Will Smith).
Temple's film, which looks like it'll be first off the blocks, will focus on the making of the "Midnight Love" album, while Gaye was living in Belgium – a drug addict, essentially considered something of a has-been.
As I reported previously, Janis Gaye, the late singer's second and last wife (he was married twice), doesn't approve of Temple's project, because it would "focus on his drug abuse, on other negative aspects of his life."
And clearly Gaye's son doesn't approve either.
It was early in 2011 that it had been given a greenlight, and financing for its $8 million budget; although, at that time, there was no word on who was being considered for the title role.
Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Belgium late 2011, but that didn't happen. There were some rights issues outstanding.
An earlier report on this said that EMI, which holds the rights to Gaye's music, on behalf of his children, Nona Gaye, Marvin Gaye III, and Frankie Gaye, was understood to be ready to give the greenlight to Julien Temple's $8 million film. So it could be that Temple doesn't need the explicit script approval from Gaye's family, nor Berry Gordy (who also opposed the project) to move forward with it, and it was strictly a music rights hold-up, which has now been resolved.
Shooting is now set to begin later this month in Europe, with Brendan Gleason co-starring alongside Jesse L. Martin as Gaye.
Let's see if this actually does move forward, or if it experiences further hold-ups.
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