Critically acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee was hired as the writer/director for an eventful movie bio-pic about the life and times of legendary soul singer James Brown.
Shortly after James Brown’s death in 2006, Lee was signed on as the visionary leader of the project by Brian Grazer, a wealthy veteran television and film producer. Grazer is the c0-founder of Image Entertainment, a multi-billion dollar film production company. Lee was able to cast Eddie Murphy in the movie to play James Brown.
In an interview with Black Tree TV, Murphy said he agreed to play the part largely because of Lee’s script, which he called a “great, great piece.” However for unsubstantiated reasons, Grazer fired Lee as the writer and director of the upcoming James Brown bio-pic. To replace Lee, Grazer hired a marginally established white film director named Tate Taylor.
Taylor is only known for directing two films, which were Pretty Ugly People (a box office flop) and The Help (a condescending cliché film about race told from an oppressor’s perspective). Getting the inexperienced Taylor at the creative helm of a movie that tells a story as extensive as James Brown is very risky and will probably produce lackluster results in the quality department.
Lee on the other hand is a seasoned filmmaker who is responsible for the masterpiece Malcolm X, a timeless classic about one of the most influential black leaders in American history. Lee could definitely produce the same classic result in a film effort about the life of the man known as “The Godfather of Soul.”
Many blacks will probably cry the foul of racism over Brian Grazer’s decision to fire Spike Lee from the job he was given to help tell a black man’s story. However, until more wealthy black people open up more of their own big time movie production studios, they will always be under the thumb of their white counterparts in Hollywood.
Case in point: Tyler Perry. Love him or hate him, Perry has his own production studio and never has to wait on white financiers in Hollywood to give him a shot. The success he experiences has the Brian Grazers of the world crawling to him to get in on the action. Not the other way around.