Confusion Over Two B.B. King Movies in the Works
The estate of B.B. King said two movies are underway about the late blues legend's life and noted that it's not affiliated with the one announced by actor Wendell Pierce last week.
Pierce recently caused confusion when he confirmed his role in The Thrill Is On by tweeting, “We are official. Preparation has begun on a film where I will be honored to play the great B.B. King.”
That led to assumption that he was attached to the official biopic. He later tweeted: “The Estate of B.B. King has requested I clarify the film The Thrill Is On is not a biopic in the traditional sense.”
Estate chairman Vassal Benford told Variety he was sure Pierce had “unintentionally misspoke” and confirmed that The Thrill Is On was not its project.
“We want to be crystal clear that the film announced by Pierce is not a biopic, as there are several major players involved in the new B.B. King biopic, and the estate does not want there to be any confusion as to the nature of each separate project," Benford explained. "One is a docudrama, and the other is the official B.B. King biopic approved by corporate management of the B.B. King estate and trust as a part of B.B. King’s legacy initiative.”
No details of the official movie have been revealed, although Benford said Pierce, who co-starred in the acclaimed TV show The Wire, was “considered” for the lead role in that production, too.
The Thrill Is On has been under production since at least 2009 and ran into some legal issues in 2012 that were resolved by the time of King’s death in 2015. It tells the story of King's friendship with drummer Michael Zanetis, who said, “I am not qualified to write a biopic of Mr. King’s life, but this decade of his life is a chapter I lived with him.”
In another tweet, Pierce said: “I promised B.B. King, before he died, I will honor him and his creative genius.”