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11/17/2012

Paul Greengrass' Martin Luther King Jr. drama 'Memphis' moves forward


You might recall at one point Paul Greengrass(United 93) was set to write and direct Memphis, a civil rights drama focusing on the last months of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life. After failing to secure financing when Universal backed out, and also facing opposition from the MLK estate, the project flamed out and Greengrass moved on to other projects, like West of Memphis and his upcoming Somali pirates flick Captain Phillips.

But it appears the film has found new life, with Deadline reporting uber-producer Scott Rudin is back on board with Wild Bunch agreeing to back the picture and Veritas in talks to pitch in. The film is set in the spring of 1968, one of the most difficult times in King's life as he faced scrutiny over his position on the Vietnam War, and was also facing allegations of extramarital affairs. The story takes place as he's attempting to help black sanitation workers in the titular city form a protest. Juxtaposed with that story is the search for King's assassin, James Earl Ray.

The MLK estate still isn't happy with the project, in particular the depiction of some of the civil rights leader's improprieties, and they've got their own film in development at Dreamworks which will probably be a lot nicer. But I think someone like King, who inspired so many and continues to do so, deserves an honest portrayal and not a prettied up one.