‘Miles Ahead’ Reviews Roll In Following NYFF Debut

You can look back over the years of this Miles Davis website and find plenty of blog posts about my desire to see a cradle-to-grave blueprint for the story of Miles Davis. With the talented Don Cheadle in the director’s chair, and in the starring role, this Hollywood-ized style of movie-making was not to be. To be honest, I was just happy something was going to make it to the big screen. I just felt that a traditional bio-pic might allow for a broader story, which might help appeal to a wider audience.

But that doesn’t mean I am not on board with what Cheadle has delivered.

I have not seen the film, so all I can do is check the reviews that are trickling in following the premiere of “Miles Ahead” this past weekend in New York at the New York Film Festival.

Looking over seven or eight reviews online it seems the film is getting mostly (very) positive comments from the critics.

Still, my favorite comment so far is from Matt Patches in his Esquire.com review:

Miles Ahead is the rare biopic in need of Hollywood’s “cradle to grave” blueprints. By scrapping Davis’ origin story—picking up his first trumpet, finding his sound, abandoning the culture around him—the film simply insists upon importance. The music never speaks for itself.

I am very excited to see a film about Miles Davis make it to the big screen. It might not be what I had in mind as I put together in my mind the pieces of a biopic about the jazz legend. But kudos to Cheadle and his team for staying true to the vision they designed for the film. Nothing is perfect and not everyone is going to get on board with the ‘caper’ element built into the story, but it still looks very enjoyable.

Look, I still think a 4-part miniseries on PBS would do the trick by covering the trumpeter’s life and times from start to finish. But I am so pleased to see the final piece of a puzzle I started writing about way back in 2007 finally come together.

The Miles Davis Movie: A Long Time Comin’

pic_09 I’ve been following the ‘making of’ the Miles Davis Biopic since 2008. Along the way I have written about all types of topics associated with Miles Davis, but the centerpiece of Miles Davis Online has always been the movie.

It’s funny to think that in 2008 I wrote in a post about the film being a ‘deconstructed biopic’ that, “the wheels are in motion” in regards to the film getting made.

Well, I was off six or seven years!!

“You could make a strong argument that this Blog about the Miles Davis biopic is a bit early to the party.”

I wrote that in a post on November 10, 2008. Wow! That’s a lot of writing about a film project that was years from actually getting produced.

There is a wealth of excellent conjecture about the movie scattered across Miles Davis Online, but I had a terrific time writing about possible movie scenes, casting ideas, the movie poster, the music, specific scenes, and so on.

I was writing about the Miles Davis Biopic when no one was remotely interested, back when Don Cheadle hadn’t even suited up for Iron Man 2 yet.

It has been a lot of fun diving into the story of the film – with all its twists and turns -, and now it’s here. It’s actually being made.

So the wheels are definitely in motion – in June 2014 – and that’s a good thing.

That post from November 10, 2008 is titled: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part.

Happy to say that -finally- the wait is over.

The Saga Continues: Don Cheadle Looks To Crowdfunding For His Miles Davis Film

The long (long) saga of the Miles Davis Movie/Biopic has taken an interesting turn: Cheadle has aligned with Indiegogo to raise $325,000 in funds by July 6 to enable him to make Miles Ahead, a movie about jazz legend Miles Davis.

Visit the Indiegogo campaign here.

Via Deadline:

Now, the knee-jerk temptation will be to sound a sour note about a famous star of screen (Iron Man 3) and TV (House Of Lies) for going the crowdfunding route, as was done when Spike Lee and especially Zach Braff did it. I don’t expect much blowback here. It’s not a lot of money he’s chasing, and Cheadle says that he in fact has put a lot of his own money at stake on a project he’s been trying to get made for years (I first wrote about it back in 2007). He’s also got the jazz man’s estate behind him. And frankly, there should be a movie made about Miles Davis, one of the pioneers of an inherently American art form. It would be hard to find someone more passionate about that than Cheadle.


“Most studios don’t make these kinds of movies anymore, so we are doing it independently,” Cheadle said in a statement. “I’m personally putting a big chunk of money into our budget as well as putting all my fees back in. But the extra money we hope to raise on Indiegogo will help us re-create the multiple time periods we’re dealing with and with the logistics of incorporating all the music.

We are excited to get people talking about the movie early, raise awareness, and set into motion the groundswell of support we hope will continue through to the film’s release.”

Here’s hoping he gets enough folks to chip in. Then maybe we can do something about the movie title. I’m almost missing “Kill the Trumpet Player” at this point.

I’ve been covering this movie project since 2008, so I think I will just go ahead and donate $15,000 to be a co-producer. It just feels right.

Miles Davis (Not A) Biopic Now Called ‘Miles Ahead’

Ten days after Cate Blanchett finished “Carol,” the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission announced that Don Cheadle will star as iconic jazz innovator Miles Davis in a movie filming here in July.

Cheadle (“House of Lies,” “Iron Man 2,” “Iron Man 3”) also will direct and produce “Miles Ahead” from a script he wrote with Steven Baigelman.

Local musicians and actors will be needed for the movie about trumpeter Davis, a major jazz figure in the bebop, cool jazz and jazz fusion movements in the 20th century. Production offices for the film opened in Cincinnati in mid-May, scouting for film locations and local talent.

Continuing reading here.

I was actually beginning to like “Kill the Trumpet Player,” but really, that was never going to be the movie title.

Vince Wilburn Jr.: “We Get the Vision that Don Has”

mp-05006019 iRock Jazz LIVE! recently featured about an hour-long video chat with Vince Wilburn Jr., Miles Davis’ nephew, who, along with his cousins, Cheryl Davis and Erin Davis, oversee Miles Davis Properties, LLC.

Around the 35-minute mark talk turns to the Miles Davis Movie. Nothing to stop the presses, but nice to hear/see Vince discuss the upcoming movie.

About the forthcoming project – one that Don Cheadle has been attached as star and director since 2007! – Wilburn Jr. did say about Cheadle:

“He is really hands-on, and he is really passionate about this movie.”

Cheadle even chimed in during the video chat to comment: “The movie is all about bringing new fans to the music and to Miles’ life.”

The Miles Davis Movie: Don Cheadle Has Something To Say About the Miles Davis Movie

This is via Don Cheadle’s Twitter page:

Miles Davis flick is on. But I hate the word biopic like Miles hated the word jazz. It’s misleading. Not attempting to tell his life story.

Cheadle’s intent not to produce a traditional biopic has been well-known for some years. Regardless of what I, or anyone else, thinks of the actor’s unconventional narrative he’s designed for the film, the most important part is that at some point we will get to see Miles Davis portrayed on screen – and that is exciting.

Here is the plot:

After his record label steals his comeback album before he’s ready for it to be heard, Miles Davis hunts it down with a journalist and a junkie jazz musician.

That could very well be the makings of a fun night at the movie theater. Or not. No doubt there will be plenty of opinions on Cheadle’s ‘cubist’ take on a film about the jazz legend.

But I wonder, with Cheadle doing his best not to tell the life story of Miles Davis, is it possible for someone else to attempt such a cinematic endeavor?

I have always felt that a blowout-the-budget, three or four-part documentary (film or TV) could do the trick. There have been Miles Davis documentaries previous, but I mean a really big, Ken Burns-style production.

I’m looking forward to see what Cheadle has in store for his directorial debut. But I’d still love to see a biopic about Miles Davis in the same style as Ray or Walk the Line. Maybe a Miles Davis film generated by a Hollywood studio just wouldn’t cut it. Maybe it’s too hard to sell to the general public. Who knows? But for now, we will see what Cheadle has for us, plus the Miles Davis movie from director George Tillman Jr. (based on the book “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis”, written by Gregory Davis).

I’m going to be very interested to see how they market this film. Obviously you have the icon Miles Davis as the focus, plus a talented actor such as Cheadle starring in and directing the project. But it’s a quirky plot. But it might have an immense amount of ‘cool’ to go with it, something that usually follows around a Tarantino film when it arrives on screen.

In the short-term, congratulations to Cheadle and Co. for finally getting the project over the finish line. This project has been percolating for a long time. I started following back in 2007, when Cheadle jumped aboard. I have spilled a lot of digital ink about this project, most of it fun conjecture about who should play who, what scenes needs to be included, and just about anything you can think of related to a movie project that was short of actual news and had become a Hall of Fame member of Development Hell.

I have enjoyed following the project from the start, and I will continue to chronicle the film as the cameras start rolling.

The best is yet to come…..

Miles Davis Movie To Begin Filming Summer 2014

No word if a deal is in place, but according to Don Cheadle, via this new Variety article, shooting is set to begin next summer.

“We still haven’t decided where,” Cheadle said. “That depends on things like tax credits.”

Cheadle is set to star in and direct the Miles Davis Biopic – Kill the Trumpet Player -, even though director Antoine Fuqua had been named as director awhile back. It was never confirmed in the movie press, or by Cheadle, but the project was/is listed on his IMDB page.

Obviously the deal fell through and Cheadle took back the directors’ chair.

From the Variety article:

Don Cheadle says he began to play the trumpet three years ago as preparation for starring in and directing the Miles Davis biopic “Kill the Trumpet Player.”

He found the trumpet to be unforgiving. “It’s a mean instrument,” he mused Thursday night at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica. “It’s a relief that my playing won’t be used in the film.”

And this:

Cheadle said he first heard about the project in 2006 when Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Vince Wilburn announced I was going to play Miles, and it was the first I’d heard of it,” he recalled. “It’s not the first time that’s happened.”

I have been covering the Miles Davis Biopic since 2007. All this news makes my heart sing! Sure, I think this Miles Davis chasing bad record execs plot is peculiar, but I’m happy to go along with it because the idea of Cheadle playing the jazz legend has always been the #1 reason to hope and pray this project finally gets made.

I think the story of Miles Davis deserves a thorough account of his life, which means another biopic might happen down the road, but for now we’ll see what Cheadle can deliver. I also believe Ken Burns (or someone else) really needs to produce an in-depth, three or four-part series on Miles Davis.

And don’t forget: Director George Tillman Jr. has his own Miles Davis Biopic on the way, loosely based on the book “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis”, written by Gregory Davis.

No word yet if Tillman and producer Nick Raynes have an actor in mind to play Davis. No doubt it will be key for Tillam to cast wisely when finding someone to play such a major, real-life figure. They could go the unknown route, or perhaps there is an actor already established who might want to take on the challenge.

While Cheadle’s movie is built on a more unique narrative, it seems Tillman Jr. will deliver a more traditional plot.

The Miles Davis Movie: Was Antoine Fuqua Ever Going To Direct the Biopic?

For the longest time it was understood that Antoine Fuqua was going to direct the Miles Davis Movie – a project Don Cheadle was going to direct dating back to when he signed on in 2007.

But then news leaked that Fuqua was in and Cheadle would continue on as star, playing jazz legend Miles Davis.

Now that the film project, titled Kill The Trumpet Player, is at AFM seeking a deal, word is that Cheadle is back in the director’s chair.

The Fuqua news was never officially announced, but IMDB had the project listed on Fuqua’s page, where it remains as of this time. Perhaps he is remaining as a producer.

Anyway, somewhere along the way Cheadle must have had a change of heart. It’s his vision, so why not see it through on both sides of the camera.

The Miles Davis Movie: The Plot Is Revealed!

While we wait to see if Don Cheadle and his team can swing a deal for the Miles Davis Movie – known as Kill The Trumpet Player -, we finally are able to get an idea of how this potential movie might look like.

Cheadle has referred to the film plot as being “Cubist”, and yeah, this is definitely not a traditional biopic.

He even called the film “a gangster pic.” Whatever that means.

This is via Deadline.com:

Kill The Trumpet Player, IM Global. Don Cheadle, director. Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Ewan McGregor star. After his record label steals his comeback album before he’s ready for it to be heard, Miles Davis hunts it down with a journalist and a junkie jazz musician.

WOW! Does this mean we get to watch Miles Davis gun down a bunch of record label executives? Does he bash people over the head with his trumpet?

This is going to be wild. Hopefully in a good way. I am on record as preferring a more traditional biopic, but I’m willing to loosen up a bit and see what Cheadle has up his sleeve for his Miles Davis project.

Supposedly, the story is told “over a day and a half of his life — a very intense day and a half of his life…”.

That is from an interview Cheadle did with Collider.com a few years back.

Not sure if the project is still using this time frame.

The movie title is quirky, the plot is unusual. It’s not a plot we haven’t seen before, just not with Miles Davis(!) involved!!

Is this style of film more marketable than a traditional biopic? Probably not. The easy road is to do it like Ray, which is a damn fine movie. So, I give kudos to Cheadle for wanting to stir things up and develop something different.

But this is obviously no longer a biopic. This is a story of three people tracking down some bad guys and one of the people doing the tracking down happens to be jazz icon Miles Davis.

This is not going to be the move where we see Miles Davis in the studio with John Coltrane, or meeting Gil Evans, or battling addiction, or boxing, or performing, or whatever else you consider important in the birth, life and death of Miles Davis.

From the interview w/ Collider.com:

“…it’s not a biopic. It’s not deep. It’s not serious fare. It’s not a cradle to grave sort of overview of his entire life. The movie takes place over a day and a half of his life — a very intense day and a half of his life but a lot of people haven’t even engaged because of what they perceive it’s going to be. They go “Oh, we don’t want to do a movie like that.” I say “Have you read it?” “No, I haven’t read it.” “Well read it and then say you don’t want to do a movie like that.” So it’s having to push through a lot of these things and confront people. Once they read it, they’re like “Oh, this is great.” So everyone’s really dying to be the second person to say yes and to invest in this film.”

The Miles Davis Movie: Zoe Saldana, Ewan McGregor In Talks To Join Kill The Trumpet Player; Deal Close

42-17363833 Don Cheadle has yet to tweet anything about it, but actual news is flying around out there on the ‘net that Zoe Saldana and Ewan McGregor are in talks to join Kill The Trumpet Player, the kooky name given to the Miles Davis Movie project.

For the longest time Antoine Fuqua was set to direct – replacing Cheadle. But now it seems that Cheadle is back in the director’s chair.

The Fuqua news was never officially announced, but his IMDB page did list the project, so clearly he was on board.

But no more.

Don is now going to star and direct, just as he set out to when he signed on to this movie project back in 2007.

Daniel Wagner’s Beverly Hills-based BiFrost Pictures is fully financing. UTA packaged the project and represents US rights.

Herbie Hancock was announced as music supervisor back in 2010, but now he is also an executive producer on the film.

I have been tracking the Miles Davis Movie since 2007. It should come as no surprise that this flurry of (good) news has me smiling.

I have been critical in the past of Cheadle’s decision to bypass a cradle-to-grave blueprint for something he has described as “cubist” – but nevertheless, any film about the jazz legend that can actually get made is a reason to celebrate.

Check the Biopic section of Miles Davis Online for six years of news, ideas, opinions and all sorts of fun babble related to the Miles Davis Movie.

Link: ScreenDaily

Hey, What’s Don Cheadle Doing?*

According to Don Cheadle’s Twitter feed the actor is enjoying some time off in Costa Rica.


No doubt Cheadle is enjoying this blissful, sun-kissed poolside moment in Costa Rica with the latest draft of the Miles Davis Movie script in hand.

* when he’s not working on the Miles Davis Biopic

Today In Miles Davis Movie News…


* Haven’t dropped one of these on the site in awhile. But yeah, nothing is happening. Of course, no one has still yet to make an official comment about Antoine Fuqua joining the project as director, which is just odd.

There was for a time ‘2013’ listed next to the project on IMDB.com. But no more. In fact, there is NO YEAR listed with the project, so anyone delusional enough to think that cameras would roll this year should go ahead and think about 2014, or even 2015.

The Miles Davis Biopic is the very definition of development hell.

Don Cheadle Wins Golden Globe; Maybe Another Globe Down The Road For Playing Miles Davis?

fb-miles-davis-onlineBig congratulations to Don Cheadle on picking up the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series Sunday night at 2013 ceremony.

Personally, I think if he ever gets this Miles Davis Film project off the ground he is going to nab lots of nominations and awards for portraying jazz legend Miles Davis.

Don Cheadle On Miles Davis Biopic: “We’re Not Letting Go”

If you web skip over to Details, their Daily Blog has a nice Q&A with Don Cheadle.

Lucky for us writer Keith Wagstaff asked Cheadle about the Miles Davis Biopic.

However, it’s tough not to feel a little deflated once you’ve read Cheadle’s answer.

DETAILS: What’s the deal with this Miles Davis biopic we keep hearing about? First we hear you’re acting in it, then you’re directing it, then you’re not directing it . . .

DON CHEADLE: I was always starring in it. That’s one of those things we’re still trying to put together. But we’re not letting go, we’re still pursuing it. I don’t really like to talk about these kinds of things until they’re actually happening. I’m kind of superstitious.

It’s the, “we’re not letting go, we’re still pursuing it” line that stands out. This has the feeling of a project with little to no momentum going into 2013.

Maybe the financing part is proving to be too high a mountain to climb. Maybe a film about Miles Davis just isn’t drawing enough interest to make it work.

Something is holding up this movie. I have been following the project since 2007, when Cheadle signed on, and I never thought it would take this long.

But this is clearly not a project that’s anywhere near close to a production start. Yes, there is a script floating around, and Antoine Fuqua is now directing, which is a pretty big deal, but nothing is ‘actually happening’ if you go by Cheadle’s words.

I wonder how the George Tillman Jr./Nick Raynes film about Miles Davis is coming together. Based on the book “Dark Magus: The Jekyll and Hyde Life of Miles Davis” by Davis’ eldest son, Gregory Davis, the movie project does not have the blessing of the Miles Davis estate, nor will it contain the bulk of Davis’ legendary music, but there’s a chance this version of the Davis story gets made before Cheadle’s.

Or perhaps they are finding the same problems in putting together a movie about Miles Davis.

I asked once, so I’ll ask again: Is there an exit plan for Don Cheadle?

Don Cheadle Still Playing Trumpet, A Good Sign For The Miles Davis Movie

Tucked away near the bottom of a Hollywood Reporter interview (wrapped around an expensive watch advertisement) on Don Cheadle, we get this morsel of info:

On the set of House of Lies, the sound of Cheadle practicing trumpet is a regular lunchtime treat, says Bell, part of his prep for a Miles Davis biopic he intends to produce and topline.

The key word here is ‘intends’, which means this project is still a ways off from production.

But he’s practicing the trumpet, and that’s a good sign for Miles Davis Biopic watchers.

We recently reported that the film’s title, as of this second, is Kill the Trumpet Player. No comments so far from Cheadle on the movie title.