Last week it was widely reported that Universal was dropping a planned Martin Luther King biopic (BYE-oh-pick) from Bourne director Paul Greengrass. The official reason was “scheduling,” but as we all know, “scheduling” is to movie studios what “allergic reaction” is to raging drunks’ publicists. Deadline spoke to MLK “confidante” Andrew Young, who says the real reason was that he put pressure on the studio over factual inaccuracies in the script, vis a vis MLK getting some strange on the side.
Young has confirmed to me (interview below) he did indeed contact Universal and objected to a Memphis script draft that, among other things, depicted marital infidelity in Dr. King’s final days.
This is not the first time Young has had reservations about the factual accuracy of a MLK biopic. He confirmed to me he also raised objections to purported facts in the script Selma, [a rival MLK story from Precious director Lee Daniels] including mentions of infidelity as well. “They said, ‘We have our script,’ and I said, ‘No, you don’t.’ They call it poetic license, but I told them it doesn’t make sense to take poetic license when the real story is more powerful.”
He tells me when he read the script for Memphis, “I thought it was fiction.” As for the depiction of infidelity, Young said: “There is testimony in congressional hearings that a lot of that information was manufactured by the FBI and wasn’t true. The FBI testified to that. I was saying simply, why make up a story when the true story is so great?
Huh, I’d always assumed MLK’s ‘tang wrangling was as accepted as JFK banging Marilyn Monroe, or J. Edgar Hoover wearing granny panties (the sixties, man….). Am I to believe it was all just an elaborate myth/conspiracy, like AIDS, or the female orgasm? That’s heavy, Doc. Oh well, it’s not like we needed an MLK biopic. X-Men is already a perfectly adequate allegory for the Civil Rights movement. I mean, sure, the key figures are represented by white people, but that’s a small price to pay for turning sit ins into laser-eyed knife battles. That’s just what you call an effective narrative device.