Authorised Sam Cooke biopic in the works

The film's producer says he's treating the biopic 'like a murder investigation'

An authorised biopic of iconic soul singer Sam Cooke is now in the works.

Two members of the late singer’s family, LC Cooke and Eugene Jamison, will serve as consultants on the film, whose script is being penned by up-and-coming screenwriter Mary Krell-Oishi. Music and film producer Romeo Antonio is developing the project alongside Cooke’s family, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Antonio has been granted access to Cooke family documents for the biopic and has also interviewed the singer’s former assistant, Zelda Samuels, Cooke biographer BG Rhule is contributing to the project too.

Singer-songwriter Cooke racked up 30 US Top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, including ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and ‘Wonderful World’, and also played an active part in the civil rights movement. He was shot dead on December 11, 1964 at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles by the establishment’s manager, Bertha Franklin, who insisted that she was acting in self-defence. An inquest later ruled that Cooke’s death was a “justifiable homicide”, but over the years the singer’s family has consistently questioned the validity of this verdict.

Explaining why the Cooke family has decided to collaborate with Antonio on the biopic, Eugene Jamison said: “For years, people have been coming at us to do a movie about Sam. But he was the first person who sounded like he wanted what we wanted: the truth to come out about my uncle and his death.”

Antonio added: “It’s the ’60s, you could do it like Selma, but it’s not the direction I’m going with. My pitch to them was a murder mystery. Who did this? And it’s being written in that fashion. I am treating it like a murder investigation.”