Nashville-based 821 Entertainment Group has joined with Strike Entertainment to develop a film based on the life of country music icon Hank Williams.
According to Variety, Strike Entertainment partner Marc Abraham will write the script. The 821 banner will finance development and most likely production, with Universal getting first crack at the project through its first-look deal with Strike partners Abraham and Eric Newman.
The package includes cooperation with the Hank Williams estate that gives the production use of his most memorable recordings. Also, 821 has optioned the rights to "Hank Williams: The Biography," a book by Colin Escott that is being used as a resource by Abraham. Escott will be associate producer.
Williams ranks high among the most influential country music singer-songwriters, and he lived a life as hard as any character in a country song. After growing up dirt poor in Alabama during the Depression, Williams skyrocketed to fame with 11 No. 1 hits, including classics "Cold, Cold Heart," "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Williams also suffered from spina bifida, which led him to turn to alcohol and morphine for pain relief. Haunted by demons and bad habits, Williams died in 1953 at age 29.
On one side of the estate is singer Hank Williams Jr., and on the other is Jett Williams, the illegitimate daughter of the late singer, born days after he died. They haven't seen eye to eye on much, but they did get together on the biopic.
"He was the first real star who went down as the result of his lifestyle, succeeded by Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain," Abraham said. "He destroyed himself, but for six years leading to his death, Hank had six songs each year in the top 10."
Though it's early, Abraham believes that original recordings will likely be used in the film.
No production date has been set.