F. Gary Gray to direct Marvin Gay biopic

Variety states that F. Gary Gray will direct ‘Marvin,’ a biopic of Marvin Gaye, the iconic singer who was shot to death by his father in 1984. C. Gaby Mitchell (‘Blood Diamond’) is aboard to write the script.

Gray, who last directed ‘The Italian Job’, has long wanted to tell Gaye’s story, but the inability to secure music rights has made it a high mountain to climb. A rival pic, ‘Sexual Healing,’ produced by James Gandolfini, who has a role, and starring Jesse L. Martin, will focus on the singer’s declining years, because the filmmakers have rights to use songs only from his post-Motown career. That film, reportedly skedded to start last month in Europe, has not begun production.

David Foster will produce with Duncan McGillivray, and next week they will shop to studios and financiers a package that includes the complete music rights to Gaye’s catalog, including the hits that made him Motown’s biggest solo male star.

Gray said his movie will cover Gaye’s entire life, from his emergence at Motown through his defiance of Berry Gordy to record ‘What’s Goin’ On’ and on up to his death.

‘This is my passion project, the one that I wake up every day thinking about,’ Gray told Daily Variety. ‘I’m going to tell a truthful story, and there is no shortage of drama and extreme conflict in a relationship with his father that at its core is Shakespearean and tragic.’This isn’t the average biopic of a rock star wrestling with drugs and women, but a man whose musical awakening became a call to action that questioned critical issues like a costly foreign war, recession, environment, inequality — issues that are relevant now.’