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How ‘Get On Up’ Gets James Brown’s Manager Wrong

9:00 AM PST 08/03/2014 by Hilary Lewis



The son of Brown’s manager and the head of his former agency say what really happened.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Get On Up.]

In a poignant scene in Get On UpJames Brown is shown shoveling dirt on his manager Ben Bart’s coffin. It’s a touching, rare moment in which Brown is shown caring for someone other than himself. Unfortunately, according to Bart’s son Jack, it’s not true — and the Godfather of Soul wasn’t even at the funeral in question.

That’s just one of many alleged inaccuracies in the film, Jack Bart and Jeff Allen — who now runs the elder Bart’s old agency Universal Attractions — tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Allen says that the film inaccurately suggests that Brown took the lead in making business decisions, including changing the way his concerts were promoted.

“The truth is … that was Ben’s idea and Ben’s expertise because he started as a club owner and a concert promoter,” Allen says. “So where they portray Ben as kind of following James Brown’s lead, it was the other way around. Everything that Brown knew or learned or accomplished was through Ben Bart’s tutelage.” Bart’s support for his talented client isn’t accurately portrayed, making it seem “as if Brown gave Ben a free ride,” Allen adds.

Get On Up also diminishes the elder Bart’s role in Brown’s discovery, Bart’s son says. The film suggests that producer/talent scout Ralph Bass discovered Brown, something the younger Bart calls “totally inaccurate.”

In reality, Jack Bart says his father got a call from a club owner in Atlanta who told him, “There’s a young fellow down here by the name of James Brown that is a great dancer and … he’s got a lot of potential. You should come down and take a look at him.”

Ben Bart then flew to Atlanta, saw Brown and signed him. “That’s how James Brown was discovered,” Jack Bart says. By way of comparison, the movie doesn’t even introduce the character of Ben Bart until he meets with James Brown later in his career and urges him to go solo.

To be fair, Bass has been credited by many for discovering Brown, with even the late musician noting inhis autobiography that Bass signed him and his then band the Famous Flames before Bart came on board.

Bart’s son and Allen claim they were never contacted by anyone affiliated with the production, meaningDan Aykroyd‘s portrayal of the elder Bart may be due to a lack of information.

There are some parts of the film that ring true, Jack Bart says, claiming he’s fine with ChadwickBoseman’s portrayal of Brown and the scene in which Brown is arrested following a police chase. He also suggests that the film effectively conveys Brown’s ego, recalling that Brown would talk about himself until the younger Bart couldn’t take it.

Still Bart’s son notes that he and Brown were so close that he was one of the few people who was on a first-name basis with the man who insisted others refer to him as “Mr. Brown.”

Allen later explained that he asked Deanna Brown Thomas, one of Brown’s daughters, why he and Jack Bart weren’t called, and she indicated it was about money.

“That’s the James Brown organization MO. If there was no money in it for them, then they weren’t doing anything,” Allen says. “So rather than trying to be historically correct or have a better knowledge of how it was back then, the call was never made.”

Get On Up’s studio, Universal Pictures, declined to comment about Bart’s portrayal in the film while Aykroyd’s rep has not yet responded to THR’s inquiry, but the manager’s son and Allen insist they aren’t holding a grudge despite their concerns about the film.

“We love [Brown’s] kids, have nothing against them at all,” Allen says. “We have no hard feelings for them, just great disappointment that [Brown’s family] didn’t call Jack once and try to get better information on Ben Bart to paint Ben Bart the way they did.”

Jack Bart adds: “I have no ill feelings about it. It’s only a movie.”




The Real Reasons Paramount Bumped ‘G.I. Joe 2’ to 2013 (Analysis)

G.I Joe: Retaliation Dwayne Johnson Channign Tatum - H 2012

9:37 PM PDT 5/29/2012 by Kim Masters

Brutal competition, fears of a “Battleship” sinking and 3D reshoots (with a resurrected Channing Tatum?) leave a studio’s cupboard bare.

This story first appeared in the June 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

When Paramount announced May 23 that it was moving G.I. Joe: Retaliation from its June 29 release date to March 2013, nostrils started to quiver throughout the industry.

The explanation the studio was selling — that it needed time to turn the sequel into a 3D spectacle — didn’t seem to pass the smell test. Why bump a $125 million-budgeted tentpole starringDwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis five weeks before its scheduled release after launching a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that included a pricey Super Bowl spot?

“They eat all of that money,” notes one prominent producer. “And when you yank a movie at the last minute, it does not send an encouraging signal.”

Paramount sources say studio chair Brad Grey and vice chairRob Moore felt the expense was preferable to a duel with Sony’s Spider-Man reboot, out July 3.

“They looked at the landscape and realized they couldn’t compete,” agrees the producer in an appraisal shared by many executives and agents. Add to that the sinking of Universal’s $200 million-plusBattleship — another film based on a Hasbro property — and the potential downside looked especially distressing. So Paramount is adding 3D in hope of bolstering overseas box office and taking the opportunity to expand the role of Channing Tatum, whose stardom has grown thanks to The Vowand 21 Jump Street. In fact, Tatum’s character originally died in Retaliation, but it’s now possible he will be resurrected.

STORY: ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Director Jon M. Chu on Not Shooting in 3D, Addressing Studio Notes

More broadly, Paramount has decided to sit out the season after a brutal few months in which potential franchises — Disney’s John Carter, Universal’s Battleship, Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows — turned into losses. Many suspect Sony’s Men in Black 3 also will lose money due to its soaring cost associated with atroubled production. (Some think Paramount’s top executives might also have an eye on their bonuses, deferring costs to polish up results for the current fiscal year. Paramount declined comment.)

Whatever the reason, Paramount’s decision to move G.I. Joe signals a big shift for the studio: It also bumped the Brad Pitt zombie tentpole World War Z — a film with a budget of $150 million or more that is said to be facing several weeks of costly reshoots — from December to June 2013. The studio also moved the action-adventure Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters from March 2012 to January 2013, ostensibly to allow star Jeremy Renner to bolster his name value with The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy.

At this point, the studio’s summer slate has only a Katy Perry concert movie (July 5) and distribution fees from Madagascar 3 (June 8). And the latter might be one of the last films from DreamWorks Animation to be released by Paramount as the two have been at an impasse over distribution fees. (Of course, any troubles at Paramount might well strengthen the hand of DWA’s Jeffrey Katzenberg in a negotiation. Insiders are speculating that DWA will strike a deal with Sony Pictures or self-distribute domestically and make a deal with Fox for overseas distribution.)

STORY: Paramount Bumps ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ to 2013

Toward year’s end, the picture appears to brighten for Paramount. The studio has the fourthParanormal Activity in October and the November thriller Flight with Denzel Washington, directorRobert Zemeckis‘ first live-action film in more than a decade. At Christmas, it has a Tom Cruisethriller, Jack Reacher, and then The Guilt Trip, a comedy with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand.

But overall, the studio is looking at a sparse year. In March, it dumped Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words in theaters, and in May it stumbled with The Dictator, which sources say cost about $100 million, though the studio pegs it at $65 million. The Sacha Baron Cohen film has grossed an underwhelming $93 million worldwide so far.

The idea that Paramount might be hitting turbulence after several years of flying high actually cheers some who feel the studio has relied on hits provided by outsiders — notably Marvel and DWA — while showing less interest in nurturing its own product.

“They are impossible to do business with,” says a prominent player. “They spend less money on movies than anybody; they develop fewer movies than anybody.”

The haters don’t even credit the current regime for its hits: They point out that the Transformersfranchise was hatched by live-action DreamWorks and Mission: Impossible predated the current bosses. Still, the Mission and Star Trek franchises have been re-ignited, and if Paramount’s G.I. Joe strategy works, 3D could boost its overseas haul by as much as 30 percent. But for now, Paramount’s recent boasts about market share — a dubious measure of success yet one that studios like to brag about — are over. So far, analysts are largely unfazed, with Stifel Nicolaus saying that moving G. I. Joe “adds to a much stronger slate in full-year 2013 for Viacom [with] limited impact on full-year 2012 results.”

One industry veteran agrees the real impact of a weak 2012 won’t be apparent in the current fiscal year’s results. Paramount will receive a hefty 8 percent fee from Disney on The Avengers (part of the deal when Disney bought out Paramount’s interest), and the studio is still benefiting from its 2011 hits. He predicts, “The bad news will come next year.”

Cannes 2012: Falcom Takes Marlon Wayans’ Spoof ‘Untitled Found Footage Comedy’

Marlon Wayans Headshot - P 2012

5:59 AM PDT 5/22/2012 by Scott Roxborough

The German distributor bought the “Paranormal Activity” spoof from IM Global and also acquired 3D nature documentary “The Penguin King 3D” from Kaleidoskop.

CANNES – German distributor Falcom Media has picked up two major titles at Cannes Marche du Film: the 3D nature documentary The Penguin King 3D andUntitled Found Footage Comedy, the latest movie spoof from Scary Movie author Marlon Wayans.

Falcom inked with Britain’s Kaleidoskop forPenguin King and with IM Global forUntitled.

Wayans co-wrote the script to Untitled Found Footage Comedy together with producer Rick Alvarez. The spoof will be a parody of the Paranormal Activityfranchise.

Penguin King 3D from producers Anthony Geffen and Sias Wilson, follows the journey of a young penguin in stereoscopic 3D. David Attenborough narrates the nature documentary.

It’s Official: China’s Wanda Group to Buy AMC Entertainment

Wang Jianlin, president of Wanda Group

7:27 PM PDT 5/20/2012 by THR Staff

The transaction, valued at $2.6 billion, will create the world’s largest cinema conglomerate.

Under a deal that would create the worlds largest cinema conglomerate, China’s Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd. will acquire AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc.

The transaction is valued at $2.6 billion. Wanda, based in Beijing, intends to invest up to $500 million in AMC strategic and operating initiatives over time.

“This acquisition will help make Wanda a truly global cinema owner,” Wanda Chairman and President Wang Jianlin said in a statement. “We share with AMC a passion for the growth of the worldwide movie industry.”

PHOTOS: Marche du Film China Night 

AMC, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., employs about 18,500 people and owns 346 theaters. It is not believed the transaction will affect employment levels at the company.

“With Wanda as its partner, AMC will continue to seek out new ways to expand and invest in the movie-going experience,” AMC CEO and President Gerry Lopez said in a statement.

The transaction is pending closing conditions and regulatory approval from the U.S. and China. The move comes after a line of investments Wanda has made in the entertainment sector since 2005. The group says it has more than $1.6 billion invested in entertainment and cultural activities.

Cannes 2012: Saudi Arabia’s First Female Director Brings ‘Wadjda’ to Fest

Haifaa Al Mansour

9:35 AM PDT 5/15/2012 by Scott Roxborough

Haifaa Al Mansour’s coming-of-age drama is produced by Berlin-based Razor Film, whose credits include “Waltz With Bashir” and “Paradise Now.”

CANNES – Wadjda, the first-ever film shot in Saudi Arabia, hits the Cannes market as The Match Factory begins pre-sales at Cannes’ Marche du Film on the coming-of-age drama from Haiffa al Mansour, the first female Saudi filmmaker.

PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival: Veterans Ready to Return to the Croisette

Haifaa wrote and directed Wadjda, which tells the ordinary but uplifting story of Wadjda, an 11-year-old girl growing up in the suburbs of Saudi capital city Riyadh. Wadjda’s dream is to get and ride a green bicycle, a treasure forbidden to women in the restrictive Islamist state.

“I’m so proud to have shot the first full-length feature ever filmed entirely inside the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia),” Mansour said. “I come from a small town in Saudi Arabia where there are many girls like Wadjda who have big dreams, strong characters and so much potential. These girls can, and will, reshape and redefine our nation.”

Cannes Q&A: Studiocanal CEO Olivier Courson on His Packed Market Lineup, Favorite Festival Memory

Mansour used an all-Saudi cast for her film, including Reem Abdulla, one of Saudi Arabia’s best known television actresses.  But the Wadjda crew came from both Germany and Saudi Arabia and included award-winning German cinematographer Lutz Reitemeyer (White Deer Plain).  Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Berlin-based Razor Film, whose credits include Oscar nominees Paradise Now and Waltz with Bashir, produced Wadjda with financing help from Rena Ronson of the UTA Independent Film Group. Ronson first kicked off financing for the project when he met with Mansour at the Abu Dhabi Circle Conference in 2009. Saudi partner Amr Alkahtani of Rotana Studios provided additional financial and logistical support on the ground during the shoot.

“We are excited that we have successfully shot the very first feature film in a country where going to the movies is forbidden,” said Meixner and Paul of Razor Film. “Experts on the region told us we would never be able to make a movie like this in such an environment. Haifaa Al Mansour deserves extraordinary respect for her courage, as does our local partner, Amr Alkahtani, who was indispensable in making the shoot possible.  Saudi Arabia remains very inaccessible to outsiders, and representations of the country in the media are often one-sided and filled with clichés. We hope that our film can open and broaden the way people look at this country, its rich culture and wonderful people.”

Wadjda is Mansour’s first feature-length drama but the director has shot three short films as well as the award-winning documentary Women Without Shadows. All of her work is focused on giving a platform to Saudi woman to tell their unheard stories.

‘Avengers’ Chris Hemsworth and Wife Elsa Pataky Welcome Baby Girl

6:59 PM PDT 5/12/2012 by Jane Kellogg

The Aussie actor, who plays Thor in the summer’s box office smash, is now a dad to baby India Rose.

He melts the hearts of fans everywhere, but now Chris Hemsworth‘s heart melts for one. The Aussie actor, 28, welcomed a baby girl Friday with his wife, Elsa Pataky, 35, also an actor. The couple, who have been married since late 2010, settled on a simple name for their daughter: India Rose.

PHOTO: Behind the Scenes of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’

“We love the country and love the name,” Hemsworth said in a phone interview with USA Today. This is the first child for both Hemsworth and Pataky.

Following the January announcement of the pregnancy, Spanish actress Pataky shared how blessed they feel to begin growing their family. “Having the person that you love by your side, and starting a family with them, is the best thing that can happen to you in this life,” Pataky told ¡Hola!. “You can’t ask for more.”

PHOTOS: Avengers Premiere in Los Angeles

So will the star of box office smash The Avengers, which is expected to gross $1 billion worldwide this weekend, be on diaper duty? Possibly–if he can find time between promotingAvengers and Snow White and the Huntsman, which is set to be released June 1. And after years on the shelf, the actor is gearing up for the release of Red Dawn, set to hit theaters this November, where he plays the lead character alongside Friday Night Lights‘ Adrianne Palicki and The Hunger Games Josh Hutcherson.

Hollywood Docket: Brendan Fraser Sues; Kelsey Grammer Wins; And the Funniest Lawsuit of the Year

Brendan Fraser

5:25 PM PDT 5/11/2012 by Eriq Gardner

A roundup of entertainment and media law news including a win for Leslie Moonves and a setback for Beyoncé.

Brendan Fraser is suing producers of William Tell…The Legend, alleging they violated a written agreement to star in a proposed film about the Swiss folk hero known for his expert bow-and-arrow marksmanship.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday, Fraser says he was approached in early 2011 by Arclight Studios to star in the film. The project was acquired by producer Todd Moyer, who allegedly ran into trouble financing the project.

Fraser says he forgoed other jobs, incurred out-of-pocket travel expenses to market the film to prospective investors and in November 2011, got Moyer to agree in writing to pay him for his acting services. According to the complaint, he was to receive $2.25 million in fixed compensation, 10 percent of which was to be paid as a “hold fee.” The rest was to be deposited into an escrow account.

Fraser now alleges in his lawsuit against Moyer that the terms of his “pay or play” deal have been violated and that Moyer has delayed commencement of production on the film. Asserting breach of contract, fraud, and promissory estoppel, he’s seeking $3 million in compensatory damages. Fraser is repped byMarty Singer.

STORY: Mark Burnett Settles $70 Million Legal Battle With Former Partner

In other entertainment law news:

  • Kelsey Grammer has successfully defended a copyright infringement lawsuit that alleged that he along with other producers of the BET television series The Game lifted an author’s script for an episode of the show. The plaintiff had alleged that she had given the script to her agent, who implied that it would be sent to producers. The episode in question aired in 2007, and the judge said her claims were barred by statute of limitations.
  • The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has absolved CBS and its chief executive,Leslie Moonvesfrom liability for not quickly disclosing a $14 billion write-off in 2008. The appellate circuit notes that the “red flags” such as an economic slowdown at the time were public knowledge and that suing shareholders hadn’t shown that the company committed securities fraud by ignoring accounting standards for valuing goodwill.
  • In an ongoing multi-million lawsuit by video game company Gate Five that alleges that Beyoncé walked away from an agreement to develop a game, a judge has rejected the singer’s motion to dismiss, saying at a hearing last month, “They were in the drafting process of a substantial and serious deal and someone pulled the plug. This motion is denied. I am not going to go further with this. I’m surprised this is so meritless.” Beyoncé is expected to testify in the case.
  • Is suing entertainment companies some sort of performance art for some individuals. In the funniest case of the year so far, a Maryland man is suingMark Burnett, saying he came up with the idea behind The Voice, suing Comcast and its chairman Brian Roberts, saying he came up with the idea behind cable television, and suing Barbara Eden, saying that if she had told others that he created I Dream of Jeannie, his life would be different. And somehow, a mysterious person named Xuxa is involved. Here’s the funny complaint.