Buddy Bolden biopic to resume production, but without Anthony Mackie
Hyatt Hotels scion Dan Pritzker is finally ready to resume production on his long-gestating biopic on New Orleans jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden. But he's going to have to do it without leading man Anthony Mackie, according to Deadline.
The planned three-month shoot for "Bolden!" — which Pritzker wrote and is directing — will be the third round of production on the film, which is described on IMDB as "a mythical account of … the first Cornet King of New Orleans." It first went before cameras in 2007, and then underwent reshoots in 2009. This latest round will see Pritzker reshoot approximately half of his film.
Mackie, a New Orleans native who has seen his star rise significantly since production began — thanks to roles in such films as "The Hurt Locker" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" — participated in both of those shoots, which took place in New Orleans and in Wilmington, N.C. This time, however, he will be replaced Gary Carr ("Downton Abbey").
Other cast members — at least in the previous shoots — include Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Rooker, Omari Hardwick and Mackie's fellow New Orleanian Wendell Pierce. Locally reared jazzman Wynton Marsalis composed the film's score.
The project, which Pritzker is self-financing, has cost a reported $30 million. So far. But as a billionaire member of Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans, he's got pockets deep enough to keep shooting until he gets the film the way he likes it. "Obviously, I've had a steep learning curve, and I just decided that I wanted to tell the story in a different way than I had captured it," he told Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. in a story published this week.
The three-month shoot for "Bolden!" is expected to take place largely in Wilmington.
The talented but troubled Bolden is among the more colorful characters in New Orleans' exceedingly colorful jazz history. A cornet player, he was a huge draw in his hometown of New Orleans in the early 1900s, with "Funky Butt (Buddy Bolden's Blues)" among his more celebrated numbers, one widely covered by other musicians.
Bolden's career was hampered, however, by a struggle with mental illness — before it was halted all together by the onset of what is described as alcohol-related psychosis. By the time he was 30, he was institutionalized at the Louisiana State Insane Asylum at Jackson, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He died at 54 years old and was buried in a pauper's cemetery in New Orleans.
His musical influence, however, long outlasted him. No known recordings of his work exist, and facts about his life have become intermingled with no small amount of mythology. This much is certain, though: Bolden's improvisation-heavy blend of ragtime and blues — which he performed with his Bolden Band under the name King Bolden — is widely recognized as an originator of the musical form that would become jazz.
"Bolden!" isn't the first time Pritzker has been motivated to make a film about a New Orleans jazz icon. He also wrote and directed a black-and-white silent film on the early years of Louis Armstrong, titled "Louis" and also featuring Mackie as Bolden. That film has played a handful of one-offs but has yet to land a distribution deal.
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