Tyrese Gibson Claims Rights To Teddy Pendergrass’ Biopic, Sues Legendary Singer’s Widow
Fresh from suing Home Depot over alleged racial discrimination, Tyrese Gibson went to social media to announce he is suing the widow of R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass. Gibson’s production company, Voltron Entertainment, is suing Joan Pendergrass over the rights to late singer’s biopic.
In documents obtained by TMZ, Tyrese claims that his company secured the exclusive rights to Teddy Pendergrass’s life story back in 2011, with Joan’s approval. The agreement involved Voltron’s investment in the biopic and using Tyrese’s celebrity status for promotion. According to the lawsuit, Tyrese and Voltron have invested approximately $450,000 in the project, TMZ reported.
But things took a turn in 2022 when Joan allegedly changed her mind and refused to extend the option for the rights to Teddy’s life story. Tyrese contends that this sudden decision resulted in financial harm to Voltron. So now he’s suing Joan, both in her individual capacity and as the executor of Teddy’s estate, seeking damages of at least $1 million.
In an emotional Instagram post, Tyrese shared that Teddy Pendergrass himself had chosen him for the role. He emphasized his determination to honor both Teddy and his mother, a devoted Teddy Pendergrass fan, by ensuring the movie’s realization.
Tyrese says Joan agreed to give him the rights to a book and movie about Teddy in exchange for Tyrese’s company agreeing to invest in the projects and use his celeb status to promote them and Teddy’s legacy.
Pendergrass first came to fame in the early 1970s as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, and became a super success as an R&B solo artist with five consecutive platinum albums. In a 1982 traffic accident, he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic. He had to learn how to sing again, and not only he do so but he also performed live after the accident.
Pendergrass continued his solo career until his retirement in 2007. He died of cancer in 2010.
Gibson announced he would produce the bio-pic with his Voltron Pictures with “Empire” co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels and Donald De Line through De Line Pictures. Warner Bros. has hired Little Marvin (creator of Amazon’s upcoming “Them”) to write the screenplay. Joan Pendergrass, was to have been an executive producer.
“I am honored to take this journey… this is the role that I feel I was born to play,” Gibson told Variety back in 2019 when the project was first announced.. “Teddy Pendergrass embraced me and before he passed put the responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story. Being here in this time and in this space and moment with Lee Daniels, Donald De Line, Little Marvin and Warner Bros. is an answered prayer. Teddy, I just hope we make you, your wife and family proud… Here we go!!”
In a long Instagram post, Tyrese said that the late singer himself wanted Tyrese to play him in his biopic.
“This has been 13 years+ years in the makin this man embraced me when he was on this earth and shared to me ‘No one can play me in my biopic but you Tyrese I’m sure of it’…. -TP,” Tyrece wrote.
“Hearing those words coming from him as one could imagine put me in under an unbearable amount of pressure but I knew that I was BORN to play Teddy Pendergrass,” the post continued.
“I’m very very sure this will all be figured out… Everyone in Hollywood will tell you bio-pics are some of the MOST challenging films to try and make because there are so many “Narratives” and nuances that go into creating magic…. Really no surprises here… I owe it to my mother and Teddy to get this done!! Whatever it takes this Teddy Movie will happen.”