Producer Jerry Weintraub (Ocean’s Eleven) and screenwriter Stanley Weisner (W.) are teaming up to make a film about legendary Columbia Records talent scout and record producer John Hammond. Per Risky Business, Hammond discovered music icons from the 1930s through the 1970 including Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Billie Holiday, Leonard Cohen and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Hammond was also, “a critic, social reformer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Hammond contributed to the integration of Benny Goodman’s band and lured Count Basie out of Kansas City.”
Weintraub bought the rights to Dunstan Prial’s biography, The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music with Weisner set to pen the screenplay. Hit the jump for the official description of the Prial’s book as well as my personal plea to all filmmakers of music-related biopics.
Here’s the official product description of The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music [via Amazon.com]:
The son of a Vanderbilt heiress, John Hammond listened to jazz records with his parents’ servants, went to Harlem as a teenager and became a regular in clubs where very few white faces ever appeared. Taking a little family money, Hammond went across racial lines in pre-WWII America and came back with recordings of some of the greatest jazz musicians in history. By age twenty-two, he had convinced Benny Goodman to integrate his band and made his first big discovery: Billie Holiday.
Then, as jazz gave way to pop and rock, Hammond championed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his life’s extraordinary second act. In Dunstan Prial’s hands, Hammond’s biography becomes the story of American popular music since the 1930s, a tale of a man at the center of things, with his ears wide open.
On a related note, I have a personal plea to the yet-to-be-named director of this film and to all directors making music-related biographies: please don’t make your soundtracks into greatest hits albums. We all know the popular music of the time. Use deeper cuts in your movie to show the depth and impact of these musicians beyond just busting up the Billboard charts.