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Since coming onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, White House presidential hopeful and Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama has become an epic figure. Now Hollywood wants to capture the essence of the man who embodies the American dream. Producer Tyler Perry has announced plans for an Obama film.
Perry, whose latest film Meet the Browns opens today, is planning a love story inspired on the relationship of Sen. Obama and his wife Michelle. Perry dreams of casting Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett in the lead roles. Production could begin as soon as late this year.
If anyone can get a movie made based on Obama’s romance with his wife, it’s Perry. The Tyler Perry brand seems unstoppable. To date, his films, which are distributed by Lionsgate–Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion,Daddy’s Little Girls and Why Did I Get Married?–have grossed more than $200 million.
TBS has reportedly already bought the television rights to Meet the Browns in a four-picture transaction valued at $8 million to $10 million. Though the deal involves three Liongates films by filmmakers other than Perry, Meet the Browns is considered the driver of the deal.
Perry’s audience appears to have an inherent loyalty to his work, fostered and nurtured by his years of successful urban stage productions and DVD distribution. Securing the Oscar-winning Washington for the Obama film would be a real coup. But Washington has an asking price of $20 million per film and Perry’s projects are normally modestly budgeted in the $5 million to $15 million production range.
But Perry is not the only Hollywood celeb looking to portray Obama on the big screen. The Oscar nominated actor, Edward Norton is at work on a documentary through his New York-based production company Class 5 Films. The film project by Norton, who most recently appeared in The Painted Veil and The Illusionist, will have a 2009 release date and will be co-directed by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams, according to Variety.
Norton was reportedly inspired to make a film about Obama after hearing the senator’s 2004 convention speech. In his pursuit of a distribution deal, Norton is relying on the services of his talent agency Endeavor and the Tinseltown muscle of its head honcho and founder, Ari Emanuel. Reportedly a staunch Obama supporter, Emanuel has represented such documentary success stories as Michael Moore’s Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat.
If done well, presidential politics onscreen can be not only informative, but alluring entertainment. Campaign issues, particularly race and politics, possess enormous drama and suspense as evident by the past week’s events. Director Shola Lynch’s 2004 documentary Chisholm ’72:Unbought and Unbossed, a stirring exploration of Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 White House bid, offers a gripping fly-on-the-wall view of Chisholm’s ill-fated yet groundbreaking pursuit. A Peabody winner, the film serves as a seductive history lesson.
Whether or not Obama captures the Oval Office and becomes America’s first official black president is in the hands of the electorate. What’s indisputable is that the young Illinois senator has
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