After winning an Oscar for playing Ray Charles, Jamie Foxx now is tackling the life story of another musical icon. The Ray star will executive produce a limited series about Marvin Gaye alongside de Passe Jones Entertainment's Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones, who will shop it to linear and digital outlets.
"I've been a huge fan my whole life. His brilliance in music unparalleled," says Foxx. "Marvin Gaye's story has always fascinated me."
There have been multiple attempts to give Gaye the biopic treatment. The soul singer behind such hits as "What's Going On," "Sexual Healing" and "Let's Get It On" became one of Motown's most successful artists before he was fatally shot in 1984 at age 44 by his father following a family dispute in their Los Angeles home. F. Gary Gray, Cameron Crowe, James Gandolfini, Scott Rudin and actors including Jesse L. Martin and Lenny Kravitz all have tried to bring Gaye's story to the screen, but until now none had been authorized by Gaye's family.
"This project will be a powerful and definitive telling of Marvin Gaye's life story," says the singer's son Marvin Gaye III, an executive producer on the new project, which also has the blessing of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who has served as a mentor to de Passe ever since he hired her as a creative assistant at his legendary label decades ago. "Marvin was the truest artist I have ever known," said Gordy. "I am confident that this is the right team to bring his story to the audience in an authentic and compelling way."
"We've been involved in a number of attempts to get this done, and now that we've been able to marshal all the forces, and Jamie's come on board as a partner, we're excited to get going," says de Passe, who has executive produced multiple Motown television specials. She and Jones are in talks with Sony/ATV, which controls Gaye's music rights, to determine which specific songs will be used.
"This has been a labor of love for three decades," says Jones. "It's been brewing for a while."
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.