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Rising star Chadwick Boseman is trading in his Jackie Robinson jersey for the dancing shoes of legendary soul and funk singer James Brown. Boseman, who recently starred in "42," has signed on to play the Godfather of Soul in an upcoming biopic from director Tate Taylor ("The Help").
Taylor announced yesterday he would be taking on the project, with plans to start filming in Mississippi this fall. The Associated Press added that Taylor "could know within the next week who will play Brown" and that he "tend[s] to go toward relative unknowns." Given the news about Boseman, it seems Taylor is hoping to start pre-production as soon as possible.
Interestingly enough, one of the producers for this biopic is Mick Jagger, whose onstage swagger owes quite a bit to the Godfather of Soul. Taylor said, "James Brown, really, was the first real dancer that broke the ground of how people move. ... And Mick Jagger has complimented that and tipped his hat to that forever."
Way back in 2012, it was reported that Spike Lee would direct the film and Eddie Murphy would star. Then it was rumored that Lee was fired from the project.
Co-producer Brian Grazer's comments on the matter were rather delicate; he told Rolling Stone, "[Lee] was the choice when I had the rights. I had just produced 'Inside Man' with him. When the rights left me, I didn't have any control, and I couldn't make director choices. So when it came later with new people and new rights holders, we weren't doing it with Spike Lee anymore. The world was different then. Now you have to make movies for less money." (Guess it would have been bad form to Kickstarter it.) In any case, it's safe to bet that this version of the James Brown biopic will be very different with Taylor behind the camera.
Boseman already has one hot property in post-production, a football film called "Draft Day" directed by Ivan Reitman. "Draft Day," which also stars Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, and Frank Langella, is due out in 2014.