The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle Says They Have A Studio Offer; Describes Movie’s Style As ‘Cubist’

With 2012 knocking on the door, we leave 2011 with a blast of exciting news from Don Cheadle regarding the Miles Davis Movie. Here’s the Don Cheadle q&a with John Jurgensen from Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

You’ve been midwifing a Miles Davis movie for years. Is that baby still alive?

It is. It’s the longest in utero in the history of babies. It’s three to five years average for most movies to get made, but often it’s 10 or 15 years. This is the kind of movie the business 10 years ago may have leapt at. But now, you don’t really see movies like this. We have a studio offer and we’re trying to back into a budget number, like we always have to do, without gutting the piece.

It’s been reported that a director has been attached to a competing biopic.

That’s something I just heard about in the last month. Look, if the world is ready to have two Miles Davis movies, fantastic. He should have eight or 10 of them.

It’s such a struggle to secure life rights and music rights that it’s hard to believe two pictures about him could actually get made.

Well, that’s not going to happen, clearly. We’re working with the family and we have all the music. There’s another period of music, about three or four years [that the other project appears to have rights to]. These estates are sometimes bifurcated. We have what we need for our film. Look, God bless. If there’s another quality movie about this legend, that’s great.

I don’t think anyone’s going to be making the kind of movie we’re making. It’s not a biopic, per se. It’s a gangster pic. It’s a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in. Without throwing history away, we’re trying to shuffle it and make it more cubist.

The bulk of it takes place in ’79, in a period where he actually wasn’t playing. But we traverse a lot of it his life, but it’s not a cradle to grave story.

Lots of good stuff!

So now we know when the film is set – 1979. But according to Cheadle they bounce around a lot. The opposite of a traditional biopic, but still – hopefully – touching on important moments in the jazz icon’s life. Being that it’s 1979, will Cicely Tyson show up in the story?

I’m curious to know which studio made the offer.

I like this quote from Cheadle: “This is the kind of movie the business 10 years ago may have leapt at. But now, you don’t really see movies like this.”

Avant-garde movies? Movies that are good? Because there is a lot of garbage out there today and any chance we can get a good movie is fine by me.

But this quote confuses me: “It’s not a biopic, per se. It’s a gangster pic. It’s a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in.”

‘Gangster pic?’ What? If ever we needed a follow-up question. Is this Miles Davis meets ‘Goodfellas’? I’m intrigued and confused all at once! [Ed. Note: Obviously it’s not ‘gangster’ like that…. Not in the ‘Godfather’ sense of the word.]

He also seems to imply that the George Tillman Jr. movie will not have access to the bulk of Miles’ most famous music – just a small period of music he recorded over a 3 or 4 year period (most likely later in his career.)

However, Cheadle is all for as many Miles Davis biopics as humanly possible.

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The Miles Davis Movie: Will Cameras Roll For Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Film In 2012?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The Miles Davis Movie is listed on IMDB with a 2013 date. I assume that’s the release year. So that means they’d have to shoot sometime in 2012 to get the movie out the following year. Iron Man 3 also has a 2013 listing, and apparently filming commences May 2012, so already the new year is shaping up to be busy for Don Cheadle.

His schedule also includes House of Lies on Showtime, which premieres Jan. 8.

Plenty going on for Cheadle, which is good, but where the Miles Davis Movie fits in I’m curious to know. To my knowledge there has been no announcement regarding funding by a studio or independent film company, so with no financing there is nothing happening.

But that doesn’t mean a deal hasn’t been signed. I’m just assuming.

As for the other Miles Davis Biopic, the project to be directed by George Tillman and based on the Gregory Davis book, “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis,” it’s hard to know what their time line is.

There was a first draft written by Isaac Fergusson, but Tillman and producers Nick Davis Raynes and Ged Dickersin are further developing the script.

The Cheadle project seems to be waiting to connect the final pieces between financing and scheduling, while the Tillman biopic appears to be in the early stages. But things could ramp up quickly.

Still, one project has their Miles Davis, while the other is no doubt in the process of finding their own Miles Davis.

It’s anyone’s guess who Tillman Jr. has in mind for the lead role. Maybe there is a big name out there, or perhaps they go the unknown route. But whoever is selected to play Davis will quickly be sized up alongside Cheadle.

Cheadle has opened up this year about the roadblocks in getting his Miles Davis movie off the ground, but he seems to have lost none of his enthusiasm for the opportunity to portray the jazz legend.

Based on nothing but pure conjecture, I think the filming of Cheadle’s film will get pushed to 2013. Now, if a studio swoops in, or wealthy producer, then all bets are off and it becomes only a matter of Cheadle finding the time in his date book.

Last month I mentioned that Director Antoine Fuqua’s name had been associated with the Miles Davis Biopic. In an interview last month with Spain-based online newspaper ABC.es, Erin Davis, son of Miles, said that Antoine Fuqua is the director. If he is going to direct, news has yet to be confirmed across mainstream airwaves – as far as I know. And this would mean Cheadle has relinquished the directors’ chair to just focus on playing Miles Davis.

Meanwhile, the new year could bring lots of movement on the Tillman biopic, specifically naming an actor to play Davis. Getting the right actor on board can go a long way to establishing momentum for the film and start to generate buzz.

There has to be a feeling of wanting to be first out of the gate with their Miles Davis film. Tillman’s film is gearing up to be a more accessible, Hollywood biopic (like “Ray”), while Cheadle’s is set to be unconventional in its narrative — this differential between the two competing Miles Davis biopics should help keeping audiences jazzed for not one, but two, movies about Miles Davis.

Happy Holidays from Miles Davis Online!

The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle Mum On The Other Miles Davis Movie

Last month brought news that director George Tillman Jr. will take the reins on a biopic about Miles Davis. Tentatively titled ‘Miles,’ the film is being developed by the late trumpeter’s son, Gregory, who based the project on his book – “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis.”

Of course there is the ‘other’ Miles Davis Movie, actor Don Cheadle’s long-gestating project that comes with the blessing of the Miles Davis Estate (Erin Davis, Vince Wilburn Jr.) and all the requisite buzz surrounding the talented Cheadle taking on the challenge of portraying the jazz legend.

My other Miles Davis-related blog – The Miles Davis Movie – debuted back in March 2007 around the time Cheadle joined the project, so that gives you an idea of how long this particular attempt to get the Miles Davis story on the big screen has been in the works.

It was never going to be easy for a variety of reasons, but Cheadle’s involvement as star and director appeared to be the final, and most vital, ingredient to get the movie made.

So here we are with just a few weeks left in 2011 and no real idea of when the Cheadle project is set to start rolling.

As for the new biopic, I have not seen any public comments by Cheadle, or members of the estate, about the Gregory Davis/George Tillman Jr. film.

And to be honest, they really don’t have to say a damn thing. Sure, you wonder if there is pressure on Cheadle to get his film shot and released first, but his schedule looks mighty busy these days, so finding the time – along with financing! – is going to be tricky.

It’s not as if there cannot be two films about Miles Davis, but it was already going to be a tough sell to a general audience for one film, and two could be difficult. The fact that one is a more approachable, Hollywood biopic style (like “Ray”), while Cheadle’s is set to be unconventional in its narrative, might help differentiate the two as the competing Miles Davis biopics are set free into the movie-going world.

The trump card for Cheadle’s project is – Cheadle. He is a well-known, well-respected actor who most believe is perfect to play Miles Davis, and are confident will deliver a knock-out performance. And that’s knowing going in it’s not going to be easy. It would not be easy for anyone to play the role of the jazz icon.

It’s anyone’s guess who Tillman Jr. has in mind for the lead role. Maybe there is a big name out there, or perhaps they go the unknown route. But whoever is selected to play Davis will quickly be sized up alongside Cheadle.

We shall see. As for now, all is quiet as we roll merrily along into 2012.

The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle Mum On The Other Miles Davis Movie

Last month brought news that director George Tillman Jr. will take the reins on a biopic about Miles Davis. Tentatively titled ‘Miles,’ the film is being developed by the late trumpeter’s son, Gregory, who based the project on his book – “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis.”

Of course there is the ‘other’ Miles Davis Movie, actor Don Cheadle’s long-gestating project that comes with the blessing of the Miles Davis Estate (Erin Davis, Vince Wilburn Jr.) and all the requisite buzz surrounding the talented Cheadle taking on the challenge of portraying the jazz legend.

My other Miles Davis-related blog – The Miles Davis Movie – debuted back in March 2007 around the time Cheadle joined the project, so that gives you an idea of how long this particular attempt to get the Miles Davis story on the big screen has been in the works.

It was never going to be easy for a variety of reasons, but Cheadle’s involvement as star and director appeared to be the final, and most vital, ingredient to get the movie made.

So here we are with just a few weeks left in 2011 and no real idea of when the Cheadle project is set to start rolling.

As for the new biopic, I have not seen any public comments by Cheadle, or members of the estate, about the Gregory Davis/George Tillman Jr. film.

And to be honest, they really don’t have to say a damn thing. Sure, you wonder if there is pressure on Cheadle to get his film shot and released first, but his schedule looks mighty busy these days, so finding the time – along with financing! – is going to be tricky.

It’s not as if there cannot be two films about Miles Davis, but it was already going to be a tough sell to a general audience for one film, and two could be difficult. The fact that one is a more approachable, Hollywood biopic style (like “Ray”), while Cheadle’s is set to be unconventional in its narrative, might help differentiate the two as the competing Miles Davis biopics are set free into the movie-going world.

The trump card for Cheadle’s project is – Cheadle. He is a well-known, well-respected actor who most believe is perfect to play Miles Davis, and are confident will deliver a knock-out performance. And that’s knowing going in it’s not going to be easy. It would not be easy for anyone to play the role of the jazz icon.

It’s anyone’s guess who Tillman Jr. has in mind for the lead role. Maybe there is a big name out there, or perhaps they go the unknown route. But whoever is selected to play Davis will quickly be sized up alongside Cheadle.

We shall see. As for now, all is quiet as we roll merrily along into 2012.

Miles Davis | Around The Web

A Weekly Round-Up Of Miles Davis News & Notes

1. Mad at Miles delivers the truth with humor, drama, and concern

Miles Davis would probably pour another drink and throw on some jazz after watching Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth. After all, this play mentions Davis is a less than flattering light. The dramatic adaptation of the book by Pearl Cleage enlightens the audience to the poor choices Davis made in his relationship with Cicely Tyson and adds so much more. Cleage is mad at Miles and with good reason. The controversial book attempts to bring power to women through self-awareness of their surroundings, their behaviors, their habits. The struggles of women faced with domestic violence and their will to become stronger through connections with other women are at the forefront of this one act play. [www.louisville.com]

2. Miles Davis comes to life again

No jazz musician has been more diligently organized or effectively monetized in the afterlife than Miles Davis, who died in 1991. Yet here comes “Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1” on three CDs and a DVD. It captures Davis’ finest working band at its apogee, straining at the limits of post-bop refinement. [charlotteobserver.com]

3. Legendary Saxophonist Sonny Rollins on His Enduring Love for Jazz

SONNY ROLLINS: Playing with those great people like Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and all those giants, I wasn’t afraid, because I felt that I belonged there. [pbs.org]

4. Jazz Aficionado Compiles List of Greatest Miles Davis Albums

Vinyl Revinyl, a music website, recently compiled a ‘best of’ list of Miles Davis albums. [vinylrevinyl.com]

5. Quincy University Jazz Ensemble to present concert

“A Tribute To Miles,” arranged by Mark Taylor, is a 1992 medley of the songs from Miles Davis including So What, All Blues, Seven Steps to Heaven, and Milestones. [canton daily ledger]