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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Biopics in the works for Sammy Davis, Gaye, Satchmo

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Along with June’s Black Music Month celebrations comes news of a number of biopics about some of the industry’s most iconic stars getting the green light. Many of these projects have been held up in the past because of the difficulties of obtaining music rights.

However, some big name artists have gotten involved with estate approval. Casting is going to be another story.

Rapper turned mogul Dr. Dre appears the one to finally get a Marvin Gaye movie off the ground. Previous attempts to bring the story of the famed Motown figure slain by his father in 1984 were for naught.

Jamie Foxx, Jesse L. Martin and Lenny Kravitz were thought to have some traction but all saw their efforts flounder.

With Dre at the helm for the first time since the Oscar-nominated “Straight Outta Compton” about his group N.W.A., it may at last happen. Donald Glover, John Legend and Maxwell are rumored to be among the well-known names in the running to star as Gaye, whose hits like “What’s Going On,” “Let’s Get It On,” and “Sexual Healing” still endure.

Singer/composer Lionel Richie has become a catalyst in bringing the autobiography “Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.” to the big screen via Paramount Pictures. The film will follow Davis from his days as a kid performer on the vaudeville circuit to movie star to cherished member of Frank Sinatra’s all-star crew, the Rat Pack.

With such a broad timeline, will producers chance putting the film on the shoulders of crack impersonators like Tommy Davidson (“In Living Color”) or someone younger and similarly gifted like Elijah Kelley (“Hairspray” “Star”)?

The feature film treatment on the life of reggae legend Bob Marley may have an easier path as his son Ziggy Marley has also teamed with Paramount Pictures. It will be of interest to see if a family member takes on the role. Gary Dourdan (“C.S.I.”) was thought to be a lock back in the day.

Finally, Tracy Morgan announced on “The Howard Stern Show” that he has gone as far as to put his own money up to get a movie about jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong going. “The Last O.G.” star even dropped that he has convinced Clint Eastwood, who directed the Charlie Parker biopic “Bird,” to helm this one.

Morgan should watch his back though, as New Orleans native Jason Mitchell (“Superfly” “The Chi”) is also eying portraying the famed trumpeter affectionately known as “Satchmo.”

TC UPDATES: Tasty Clips broke news recently about Eddie Murphy rushing to star in a Rudy Ray Moore biopic titled “My Name is Dolemite” for Netflix. Now a fine supporting cast has come to light with Wesley Snipes (as 70s actor/director D’Urville Martin), Mike Epps, Craig Robinson and Tituss Burgess signed.

The previously reported Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th anniversary tour has revealed the opening acts for her Sept. 18 date at the Hollywood Bowl: Dave Chappelle and De La Soul!

CLIPPETTES: An outstanding diverse line-up including Kamasi Washington, Gary Clark Jr., Aaron Neville, Pharoah Sanders, Irma Thomas, Los Lobos, Alanis Morrisette, Robert Plant, Jack White, former Prince bands The Revolution and Third Eye Blind, and the jazz stylings of Jeff Goldblum make up Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco Weekend (June 23-24) Brookside at the Rose Bowl

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, who drew raves from Tasty Clips last year for her Broadway show “Sweat,” has nabbed her next project: a Michael Jackson musical approved by the estate to arrive on the New York stage in 2020

The BET Experience is in full swing through June 24 at various locations with some of today’s hottest artists in concert, interactive activations, seminars and celebrity sports events. Visit www.bet.com/bet-experience.html for details

Chaka Khan has released her first single in over 10 years called “Like Sugar”

Jenesse Center Ambassador Halle Berry will host the Imagine Cocktail Party to benefit the nonprofit domestic violence prevention and intervention organization founded by women, on June 27 at the Wilshire Country Club.

TC ON TV: June 22 – “Cooking on High” (Netflix): The first-ever competitive cannabis cooking show has two chefs prepare mouth-watering marijuana-infused dishes for a panel of very chill celeb judges. “Marvel’s Luke Cage” (Netflix): Mike Colter returns as Harlem’s impervious hero for hire. “The Graham Norton Show” (BBCA): Rihanna, Sandra Bullock.

June 23 – “2018 Radio Disney Awards” (Disney): Janet Jackson, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are honored at this live ceremony.

June 24 – “2018 BET Awards” (BET): Jamie Foxx hosts with performances by Migos, Nicki Minaj, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Hart and H.E.R. “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): Steph Curry vs. Chris Paul “The $100,000 Pyramid” (ABC): Snoop Dogg vs. Questlove. “Unsung” (TV1): Not sure blues great B.B. King is befitting of this status but any opportunity to hear his music and story should be treasured. “Westworld” (HBO): Another excellent season comes to a close with a 90 minute finale featuring award baiters Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris.

June 25 – “Cultureshock” (A&E): “Michael Jackson’s Final Curtain Call” “People Magazine Investigates: Cults” (ID): “Nation of Yahweh”

June 26 – “W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro” (Netflix): The comic/TV host muses on parenting in the Trump era, “free speech” dustups, woke children’s TV and his fear of going off the grid. “2018 BETX Celebrity Basketball Game” (BET): Tank, Rich Homie Quan, Lil Rel, Trevor Jackson, Lecrae, Travis Greene, Miles Brown, Doug Christie, Christian Keyes, Erica Ash and more are suiting up.

June 27 – “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back” (Fox): The Brownstone Bistro, Clive Jackson’s L.A. Caribbean fusion restaurant, gets a makeover. “Hip Hop Squares” (VH1): Lauren London vs. Malika Haqq; Towanda Braxton vs. Trina Braxton

June 28 – “VH1 Trailblazer Honors” (VH1): The fifth annual edition will celebrate TV writer/producer Ryan Murphy, author James Baldwin, the ACLU and social activists Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Bebe Rexha is set to perform. “Acoustically Speaking” (BET): Big Tigger hosts crooners Jussie Smollett, Gallant and Luke James. “Desus & Mero” (Viceland): After two years, this marks the Bronx duo’s last show on the network as they move on to become the hosts of Showtime’s first weekly late night series.

IN MEMORIUM: Since December, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has been releasing related content every month as part of the newly introduced “Hamildrop” series. This month’s edition is dedicated to the late rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep. “Boom Goes The Cannon…” also serves as one of the last recordings done with his long-time partner, Havoc, as well as the first posthumous release since his death nearly one year ago. To download/stream, click www.atlantic.lnk.to/BoomGoesTheCannon.

TASTY QUIP: “Part of what I am doing as an artist and as a person on this planet is making things right for all of us across time. We won’t know until we die what it all means and how different times and worlds overlap. I believe they’re all connected.” – Director KENNY LEON from “Take You Wherever You Go: A Memoir”


As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.