B.B. King‘s estate have addressed confusion surrounding a recently-announced film in which The Wire star Wendell Pierce will portray the legendary blues singer, confirming that the film is not an official project.
Pierce announced that he was starring as King earlier this month, but has since clarified at the request of King’s estate that the film will “not be a biopic in the traditional sense”.
He will star in a film called The Thrill Is On, which focuses on King’s friendship with drummer Michael Zanetis. Pierce compared the film to Bertrand Tavernier’s acclaimed 1986 jazz film Round Midnight.
The Estate of BB King has requested I clarify the film THE THRILL IS ON is not a biopic in the traditional sense. It is a dramatized version of a real-life friendship story in the spirit of the film ROUND MIDNIGHT. The friendship of 2 musicians, one being the King of the Blues. pic.twitter.com/d5eMQz5m9c
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) October 22, 2020
Meanwhile, Vassal Benford, the chairman of King’s estate, has told Variety that they will be releasing a biopic of their own, which begins pre-production in 2021.
“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 said.
“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.”
Benford said that although the estate have considered Pierce for the role, a number of other actors are in contention to star, including Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson. The estate has also claimed that a “major director” is in talks for the official project.