Warner Bros. Pictures and Jerry Weintraub Productions are planning a biopic of the man who gave recording contracts to Billie Holliday, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen -- legendary Columbia Records A&R executive John Hammond.
Variety reports that the studio has bought film rights to Dunstan Prial's biography The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music, published in June by Farrar Straus Giroux.
The great-grandson of William Henry Vanderbilt, Hammond was born in New York in 1910. Although his mother pushed him in the direction of classical music, Hammond was drawn to jazz. After dropping out of college, he began his career as a scout and producer, often using his own funds. He helped Benny Goodman organize his first band and launched Count Basie's orchestra to national prominence.
In his career, Hammond discovered or sponsored artists including Aretha Franklin and Stevie Ray Vaughn, along with Springsteen and Dylan.
The source material focused primarily on Hammond's rock and roll career. Weintraub said he is undecided which direction he will take with the biopic, but he's interested in Hammond's earlier years and civil rights involvement.