Marley Biopic: No Music No Cry?
Los Angeles (E! Online) – Is this love? From the looks of it, maybe not.
The late Bob Marley’s heirs are jamming the Weinstein Company from licensing the music of the reggae icon for an upcoming movie about his life and career that his widow, Rita Marley, is executive producing.
The reason for the snub, per the Hollywood Reporter: The clan’s Tuff Gong Pictures is backing another projectóa documentary by Martin Scorsese about Marley.
The family had already agreed to license the musician’s hit-laden catalog for the Scorcese filmóthe first time the estate has granted such blanket rightsóand is concerned that the Weinstein’s biopic, set to unspool in late 2009, would conflict with the documentary’s release in February 2010 around Marley’s birthday.
“Martin Scorsese doesn’t want to go out with a competing project, and [producer] Steven Bing has made deals with companies [that are now compromised],” Blue Mountain Music head Chris Blackwell told the Reporter. “The Weinstein project has put the documentary into jeopardy.”
Blackwell founded Island Records, the label responsible for bringing Bob Marley and the Wailers as well as reggae in general to the masses, and now runs Blue Mountain Music, the “Stir It Up” singer’s music publisher.
Marley’s son, Ziggy, an executive producer on the untitled Scorsese expose, added that he and other family members’ main priority is protecting his father’s legacy.
“All our efforts and support are currently directed toward the documentary,” Ziggy, a reggae star in his own right, told the trade. “We believe that this project is the best way to represent our father’s life from his perspective, and any other film project pertaining to our father will be empty without his music to support it.”
The problem for moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein is that they apparently were willing to get up, stand up for the story, but failed to get music rights.
“When I sold the film rights to my book [to the Weinsteins], the contract did not include any rights to use my husband’s music,” said Rita Marley.
Neither a rep for Tuff Gong Pictures nor the London-based Blackwell was available for comment.
Marley family attorney Terri Dipalo told the Reporter the clan categorically rejects any suggestions that they were holding back the tunes to get a better deal out of the Weinsteins. At the same time, she didn’t rule out his songs from eventually being licensed for the drama, noting “anything’s possible.”
Weinstein Company spokesman Matthew Frankel indicated that the brothers believe everything will work out in the end.
“We have great respect for the Marley family and Chris Blackwell and are in discussions to look at ways to mutually benefit both projects,” he said.
Blackwell, who’s reportedly pushing for the company to postpone the biopic until at least 2015, had a phone conversation with Harvey Weinstein earlier this month in which the two discussed the potential conflict, but so far had not settled the issue. One idea the former is bandying about is possibly having the Weinsteins receive a stake in the Scorsese doc in exchange for delaying the Rita Marley-produced flick.
A source close to that project however insisted to E! Online that the 2009 date for the biopic was never set in stone in the first place because the film does not even have a script yet and remains in development so all the talk regarding a possible collision is premature.
Or good PR.
Marley Biopic: No Music No Cry?