'Ray' scribe takes on Johnson
HBO Films is developing a movie about the life of legendary blues musician Robert Johnson and has attached “Ray” scribe James L. White to pen the screenplay.Project, still untitled, will look at the life of the so-called King of the Delta Blues, partly from the point of view of his son Claud. Veteran producer Anne-Marie Mackay, who produced Michael Apted’s HBO film “Always Outnumbered,” is producing. White wrote the screenplay for Oscar winner “Ray.” HBO Films hasn’t yet decided whether it would release the Johnson movie theatrically or on the pay network. Johnson was an iconic blues musician from Mississippi who died in 1938 at the age of 27 and has been posthumously recognized as the grandfather of many musical genres, including rock ‘n’ roll. Claud Johnson, who waged a court battle for years to be acknowledged as the musician’s son, was raised by his religious grandfather and taught that his father practiced the devil’s music. Claud, who is still alive, is cooperating on the HBO Films pic. Insiders describe the project as similar in structure to “Citizen Kane,” depicting the life and times of the musician through his eyes and those of others.