Paramount Pictures has set up a biopic following the legendary life of music icon Sammy Davis Jr., with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing through his first-look deal with the studio. The studio is said to be putting this project on the fast track to development, with the studio looking to hire a writer and director very soon. The project will be adapted from Sammy Davis Jr.s' 1965 memoir Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., which the musician wrote with Jane and Burt Boyar.
Producing alongside Lorenzo di Bonaventura and his Only the Brave producing partner Mike Menchel will be another iconic musician, Lionel Richie. Richie was a key figure in obtaining all of the rights needed to put this project together. While Richie has a few acting credits to his name, this will mark his first foray into feature film producing. Here's what Richie had to say in a statement about this biopic.
"I cannot tell you how excited I am about the signing of the Sammy Davis Jr. project with Paramount. I knew and loved Sammy dearly. He was so kind to me at the beginning of my career and gave me advice that helped me become the artist that I am today. I am so happy for his kids that we can bring his story to the screen."
Sammy Davis Jr. was among the first black entertainers to have mainstream success in a racially-divided America in the 1950s and beyond. Born in Harlem in 1925 to a dancer and a vaudville star, Sammy Davis Jr. had already been recording albums and performing on Broadway before he joined Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop in The Rat Pack, which lead him to become a bona fide celebrity. In the early 1950s, he often wasn't allowed to stay in the hotels he performed in, but he and the rest of the Rat Pack ruled Vegas in the 1960s with hit movies such as Ocean's 11, Sergeants 3 and Robin and the 7 Hoods.
His love affairs with white women became a source of controversy for Davis Jr., with Columbia Pictures executive Harry Cohen even issuing a death threat to Davis Jr. after learning he was romantically involved with white actress Kim Novak. For a short period of time, Davis was even forced to marry a black woman as a "beard," before he met and ultimately married Swedish actress May Britt, at a time when interracial marriages were illegal in many states. Their marriage lasted for eight years and produced three children. While he was seen as a sellout by many African-Americans for his marriage, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 and in 1966, he was given his own network TV show, which was an unprecedented feat at the time. Davis. Jr., who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day throughout his lifetime, died from throat cancer in 1990 at the age of 64. https://deadline.com/2018/06/sammy-davis-jr-biopic-untitled-movie-paramount-pictures-1202411598/|Deadline broke the news about this biopic being put into development.