The last we heard about writer-director Cameron Crowe returning to the helm of a feature film for the first time since 2005's Elizabethtown -- a movie about a fiasco, and ended up being a fiasco itself -- was for an adaptation of the best-selling book We Bought a Zoo. While the start date for Crowe's long gestating supernatural rom-com, Deep Tiki, has been pushed back several times, due to scheduling conflicts with the film's stars -- Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon. While Zoo has all the dramedy ingredients of Crowe's biggest hit to date, Jerry Maguire; Tiki looks more and more like a lost cause.
But surely Crowe has something musical up his sleeve? Surely, the man who brought us such personal and musically driven classics as Almost Famous and Say Anything has something else he's working on, right? The answer is, OF COURSE!
In a piece about the difficulties of making musical biopics, Variety reports that for the past 3½ years, Crowe has been quietly developing a biopic of Motown singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye.
Instead of drudging around the usual fame-dissolution-redemption story arcs that plague most films, which Gaye's life and battles with sobriety would certainly lend itself to, Crowe looks to make a more music-centric film.
Crowe explained to Variety:
It's all about getting the contact high in a movie theater that you can get from music. A record can change your life. Somebody poured their life into that little piece of music. To me that's a hero.
You don't have to take a leap of faith to know what the power of this movie could be and it's easy as seeing Marvin Gaye's continuing influence; it's everywhere.
Though Crowe has secured extensive music rights and the full cooperation of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., the project can't move forward until Crowe and Sony can decide on a budget and a star -- Will Smith declined the role after much discussion with the studio.
In the article is was also revealed that Crowe had previously tried to make a biopic about famed "wall of sound" producer Phil Spector with Tom Cruise in the lead role, coming off the success of Jerry Maguire in 1996.
Crowe would instead go onto make Almost Famous, deciding at the time that “the third act [of Spector's life] had not been written.” Of course, this was years before the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson, which Spector was convicted of 2nd degree murder for, and sentenced to 19 years to life. Considering Spector is 70-years old, I think it's safe to roll credits.