A few years ago, a film student named Jeremy Donner stumbled upon information about a US government-sponsored tour that Duke Ellington took to the Middle East - including Iraq - in 1963. What made an already interesting story even more fascinating, however, was the recently-unearthed revelation that the CIA apparently had spies in the band while it toured, thus using Ellington's popularity to gain access to parts of the world not usually open to Americans. Donner tracked down a State Department official who was with the Ellington band on that tour, and put together a pitch centered on whether or not Ellington knew about the spooks. (A pitch that New Line, not being fools, recently bought.)

The studio plans to turn the pitch into a movie called The Jazz Ambassadors, which will have a screenplay by Donner himself. Antoine Fuqua (who, in the lingering aftermath of King Arthur, really could use a hit) is in talks to direct, and Morgan Freeman will both produce and play Ellington in the film.

The story sounds great, as does the presence of Freeman - it'll be interesting to see, though, how the state of the world affects our reactions to this movie when it finally comes out. Three years from now, say, it's impossible to know how we'll view Iraq, American spies, or even the Middle East in general.
categories Movies, Cinematical