by Tim Gordon
Yesterday marked what would have been the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Once again as a nation, we paused to reflect on his life, achievements and “his dream.” Although Dr. King has bestowed countless honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize and finally a national holiday, still one thing continues to elude him that will reintroduce him to this and coming generations – a major Hollywood motion picture.
The time is now to finalize a deal and begin pre-production. Next year will mark 40 years since “The Dreamer” was silenced.
For those who will ask, “what about the HBO film, Boycott with Jeffrey Wright and Carmen Ejogo or the 1978 miniseries, King with Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson?”
Each of those were television productions; I’m talking about giving Dr. King the big screen experience.
Here’s the concept for the King motion picture: It’s 1953 and a 24-year old minister has just been hired to take over The Dexter Street Baptist Church. Atlanta born and bred, young minister King would go from another small, little known southern preacher to national civil rights leader as he took over the leadership of the Montgomery Boycott and later the Southern Christian Leadership Council.
The film will continue to show his rise and the internal conflict that existed among younger African-Americans who found another rising leader, Malcolm X, and his more militant views more palatable.
In the final act, King has won the Nobel Peace Prize, but when he speaks out against the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson is furious and severs relations. The mainstream media that had supported him in the past also turn it’s back on King. While in Memphis, he gives the Mountaintop speech and is assassinated the following day.
I even have a dream cast in mind, led by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx in the lead and Sanaa Lathan as Coretta Scott King. Foxx has shown his acting chops as Ray and I can visualize him giving the two speeches that highlight the film, “I Have A Dream” and “The Mountain Top.” Lathan brings a certain cinematic class and carriage that would be perfect for the quiet dignity that Scott King displayed. In addition Halle Berry as Rosa Parks; Don Cheadle as Rev. Ralph Abernathy; Mario Van Peebles as Andrew Young; Will Smith as Jesse Jackson; Terrence Howard as Bayard Rustin and Morgan Freeman as Martin Luther King, Sr. Spike Lee will direct.
Each of the abovementioned actors have a passing resemblance to each of the principals they will portray. Lee will bring his trademark cinematic intensity to the project along with haunting score from longtime collaborator Terrence Blanchard.
So there it is. Hollywood has given us biopics of JFK, RFK (“Bobby”), Malcolm X and Ali. Now is the time for King – The Motion Picture!