Just to give you an idea of where we stand on the Miles Davis Movie timeline, I began tracking the film project in March 2007 for my blog The Miles Davis Movie. It was at this time Don Cheadle had officially come aboard to the project.
Here is the link to a March 14, 2007 news item by Michael Fleming in Variety, which basically started my endeavor to follow all things Miles Davis and the Miles Davis Biopic.
Don Cheadle has solidified five feature film projects that he’ll produce and star in. Among them is a biopic of jazz legend Miles Davis, on which he plans to make his feature directing debut. Cheadle, who is being honored today as ShoWest male star of the year, has set up the projects through Crescendo Prods., the shingle in which he partners with longtime managers Kay Liberman and Lenore Zerman.
“Nixon” scribes Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson are penning the Davis film, and Liberman and Zerman said they have secured music and life rights to the jazz legend, with whom Cheadle has long been intrigued.
Crescendo’s producing with Cary Brokaw and Vince Wilburn Jr. and Darryl Porter of Miles Davis Properties. They have waited to complete the package before bringing it to financiers, with Cheadle aboard to direct.
It was actually in 2006 when Cheadle’s name appeared as the man who might get to play the jazz legend.
On March 13, 2006, Miles Davis was inducted into the 21st Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. That night, Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., had this to say:
“We’re working with Sony on a biopic. We’re gonna negotiate with Don Cheadle whose name keeps coming up to play Miles. It (the film) can touch on many things from the way he changed the wave of music of different decades from bee-bop to hip-hop and in between, and the personal side.”
He added, “First of all we have to get a script and people are submitting them to Sony Pictures, but nothing has caught our fancy. We’ve been talking to Antoine Fuqua who did Training Day to direct.”
Not only would Cheadle sign on to play Miles, he also grabbed the role of director for the project – with the requisite blessings from Vince Wilburn Jr. who oversees Miles Davis Properties with Erin and Cheryl Davis, the late jazz great’s son and daughter, respectively.
The actual idea for a film dates back long before Cheadle was involved. Back in the late ‘90s it looked as if the project was about to hit full steam as word leaked that Wesley Snipes was (finally) going to play the Prince of Darkness.
Here’s an excerpt from the November 1997 issue of Ebony Magazine:
Awesome on another level will be Snipes’ portrayal of the troubled jazz master Miles Davis. “Nobody else has the gall to even try to make it,” he says of his company’s commitment, adding that he’s been doing research on why many talented artists resort to some type of abuse and “what drives a person who is considered genius off the wall.
I used the word ‘finally’ above regarding the film because I found this snippet from a November 1993 issue of Jet Magazine:
Hot actor Wesley Snipes, who is thrilling audiences as a blond villain in Demolition Man, is set to bring to the big screen the life story of legendary jazz artist Miles Davis. Snipes is co-producing the project as well as starring in it, a spokesman told Jet. It is just getting underway and won’t be released until sometime in 1994.
In November of 2006, Stereogum chimed in on the status of what was then dueling Miles Davis film projects; one based on author Quincy Troupe’s book “Miles and Me,” and the other with the blessing of the Miles Davis estate. This is when Cheadle’s name was beginning to get mentioned with the film.
I’m unsure what became of the “Miles and Me ” adaptation. They had director Rudy Langlais (The Hurricane) attached to the film, which, according to Stereogum, was set to ‘show the inner, tortured, personal Miles — the man beyond the music.’
At the time I started tracking the Don Cheadle-led Miles Davis Movie, I figured the film would have been shot and released by now.
Boy was I early to the party!
Right now IMDB list the film for a 2013 release.
Cheadle has since commented on the development of the movie, citing financial issues as a key roadblock in getting the movie made.
Then of course there’s Cheadle’s busy acting schedule, which causes a conflict in finding the time to prepare and shoot the Miles Davis movie.
He’s also starring a new Showtime series called “House of Lies,” so add that to the list.
With so many factors at play in getting this movie – or any movie – made, there is a chance the biopic might get pushed even further into the new decade.
When all is said and done there’s going to quite a story to write about the saga of bringing the life of Miles Davis to the big screen. But for now Miles Davis fans can only wait until the stars align just right and the project can finally get going.
* More links about the Miles Davis Movie: