British film of Luther King's life halted as family objects
Spielberg waits in the wings as supporters of the murdered human rights leader say Greengrass project would resort to trivia and smears
Sunday 03 April 2011
A major Hollywood biopic of Martin Luther King has been dropped after friends and family of the murdered civil rights leader called it a "false" portrayal.
Memphis, a film about Dr King's final days in 1968, directed and written by British film-maker Paul Greengrass, was supposed to begin filming in June. Now Greengrass, the Bafta -winning director, is said to be seeking a new backer after Universal Pictures declined to go ahead with the project.
The script is understood to have focused on Dr King's troubles towards the end of his life, including alleged problems in his marriage and a smoking and drinking problem.
Andrew Young, a former friend and confidant of Dr King contacted Universal to register his objections. He told the IoS: "It was a script based on false information. There was congressional testimony saying that the FBI manufactured certain things, like the fact that Martin and Coretta [his wife] were thinking about divorce. To say they were not getting along is absolutely ridiculous. I feel this is too great a story to deal in trivia.
"You have a number of British writers who do not know the history and do not talk to people.... I want someone to do with Martin Luther King what Sir Richard Attenborough did with Gandhi."
Dr King's estate is understood to have made it clear they were also prepared to go public with their feelings about Greengrass's script.
A source close to the film said Universal abandoned the project for "business reasons" because it would not have been completed for its February 2012 target date.
The church minister, a symbol for the global civil rights movement, was shot dead in Memphis 43 years ago tomorrow. He was only 39.
Greengrass and producer Scott Rodin were seen in Memphis scouting locations for their film in February.
A rival biopic of Dr King, produced by Steven Spielberg, is also being written. Dr King's family sold the "life rights" to DreamWorks in May 2009, but it has yet to begin filming. The sale sparked a lawsuit among King's children, with Martin Luther King III and the Rev Bernice King claiming their brother Dexter had negotiated a deal without their knowledge.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
Record Store Day 2014: Best exclusives coming to a UK independent record shop near you
Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
Lady Gaga and Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics named hardest to understand
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 KFC 'sorry' after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for 'heavy petting'
- 2 West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker Dylan Tombides has died after battle with cancer
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 5 PFA Player of the Year: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard all nominated as Liverpool dominate award shortlist