Spike Lee to be replaced on James Brown Biopic By “The Help” Director Tate Taylor

It appears that not only is Spike Lee is out, so is his script!  Lee joined the James Brown project shortly after his death on Christmas in 2006.  Spike wrote his own script and Wesley Snipes was slated to play the Godfather of Soul.  Spike had a clear vision of how he wanted the film to be executed.  Lee wanted Snipes to sing James Brown’s songs and then have the real singers voice dubbed over.  In an interview with MTV, Lee said he was a purist and wanted the film to reflect that,

“I want to hear James Brown’s voice. That’s just my personal taste,”

Snipes went to prison on December 9, 2010, and thus was replaced by Eddie Murphy.  Murphy read the script and was honored and excited to play the part.  He likened the role to the movie Ray but with Dancing.  Murphy stated,

“That’s a great, great piece, I wish it could come together. It has everything and his story is incredible. Imagine how incredible Ray Charles’ story was — and he’s at the piano. James is doing splits and running and jump off the wall. Angel dust. Shooting out tires. James’ sh-t is bananas.”

Deadline has reported that Lee and his script are both out.  His screenplay has been replaced with one by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth.  Along with winning the Writers Guild of America West’s 2011 Paul Selvin Award the brothers have recently scripted the Liman-directed Fair Game, which starred Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Mick Jagger has been and is still involved with the project.  Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Brown  and his daughter Deanna Brown Thomas are happy with the direction the film is moving.  Brown’s daughter says,

“My father’s music has been a beacon to people all over the world and now his life story will impact future generations and show Why he is respected as The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown!”

With Lee out, “The Helps” director Tate Taylor will be stepping in to direct the film.  As the project moves full steam ahead, with Eddie Murphy as a possible, I’m interested to see who the final selection would be.  If you can’t imagine Eddie in that role, take a look at his classic impersonation from “Raw”.


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