I see where Steven Spielberg has signed a deal for movie rights to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And once again, the deal has touched off public feuding among King’s three surviving children. Dexter cut the deal on his own; Martin III and Bernice say it was arranged without their knowledge and consent, and they’re pledging to fight it.
On a commercial project like this, selling the rights to King’s words and stories strikes me as entirely appropriate. It’s not like charging for the right to use King’s words on a national memorial to the assassinated hero, which is an act of such chutzpah that it still boggles the mind.
But personally, I think this is the wrong movie, by the wrong moviemaker. I’m sure Spielberg will make a fine, respectful, very moving film about King’s life and contributions. There’s an awful lot there. But I’m thinking that a more commercial movie would focus on the three dysfunctional children of, say, a much-revered, almost saintly world-famous artist who sold most of his work to support humanitarian causes and rejected worldly luxury.
After the death of their parents, the three surviving children descend on the family homestead and start feuding over who gets what. They each start grabbing furniture, books, letters, pictures, artwork — not for sentimental or family reasons but because of what the stuff might fetch on the souvenir market. Old resentments and childhood slights are resurrected. They get into fights that spill out onto the frontyard; the cops are called, the TV cameras show up.
I don’t know about casting, but I’m thinking Martin Lawrence gets cast as the oldest, slightly ineffectual brother. Casting a Hollywood wannabe like Dexter shouldn’t be hard either. We could call it … “The Queen Family.” And Tyler Perry could direct. And I’m thinking that in the last scene, Madea could come marching into the home and lecture the whole bunch about how sorry they all turned out to be, and how ashamed their parents would be to see them like this.
And the audience cheers, roll credits.
Call me, Tyler. I’m tellin’ ya, this has possibilities.