×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hank Williams biopic on track

Universal to get crack at country legend

Nashville-based 821 Entertainment Group and Strike Entertainment have teamed to turn the life of country music icon Hank Williams into a feature film.

Strike Entertainment partner Marc Abraham will write the script. The 821 banner will finance development and most likely production, with Universal getting first crack at the project through its first-look deal with Strike partners Abraham and Eric Newman.

The package includes cooperation with the Hank Williams estate that gives the production use of his most memorable recordings. Also, 821 has optioned the rights to “Hank Williams: The Biography,” a book by Colin Escott that is being used as a resource by Abraham. Escott will be associate producer.

Eric Geadelmann, CEO of 821, and president Anastasia Brown launched the company with the intention of producing and financing Southern-flavored films with mainstream appeal. Earlier this summer, they formed a partnership with the Roy Rogers Family Entertainment Corp. to launch a “King of the Cowboys” film trilogy based on the famed singing cowboy. They’ve also teamed with producer Mark Johnson to option screen rights to “The Testament,” the 1999 bestselling novel by Southern writer John Grisham.

Williams ranks high among the most influential country music singer-songwriters, and he lived a life as hard as any character in a country song. After growing up dirt poor in Alabama during the Depression, Williams skyrocketed to fame with 11 No. 1 hits, including classics “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Williams also suffered from spina bifida, which led him to turnto alcohol and morphine for pain relief. Haunted by demons and bad habits, Williams died in 1953 at age 29.

“It took us almost five years to execute this deal, and people told us we were crazy to try because the estate was so fractured,” Geadelmann said.

On one side of the estate is singer Hank Williams Jr., and on the other is Jett Williams, the illegitimate daughter of the late singer, born days after he died. They haven’t seen eye to eye on much, but they did get together on the biopic.

Abraham is the producer of such films as “Children of Men” and “Spy Game,” who grew up in Kentucky listening to Williams’ music. While waiting for the rights on the Williams biopic to come together, Abraham helmed the Greg Kinnear-starrer “Flash of Genius.”

“He was the first real star who went down as the result of his lifestyle, succeeded by Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain,” Abraham said. “He destroyed himself, but for six years leading to his death, Hank had six songs each year in the top 10.”

Though it’s early, Abraham believes that original recordings will likely be used in the film.

Williams’ story was previously told on the bigscreen in the 1964 George Hamilton starrer “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

More Music

  • Dan the Automator

    Heeding the Call of Olivia Wilde, Dan the Automator Scores 'Booksmart'

    Dan The Automator, aka Daniel Nakamura, knows a thing or two about setting a mood. The Bay Area-based producer has worked on projects such as Gorillaz’s debut album, Handsome Boy Modeling School (with Prince Paul) and multiple projects with rapper Kool Keith. Now, Nakamura has set his sights on film scoring, and will make his [...]

  • Jagged Little Pill Broadway

    Hot Shows and Viral Campaigns Put a New Spin on Broadway Cast Albums

    Mixtapes, YouTube videos, dedicated playlists, ancillary products, viral marketing, epic chart stays. These are buzzwords you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original-cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record held by Adele’s [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Kanye West Slams Liberals for ‘Bullying’

    Kanye West Slams Liberals for ‘Bullying’ Trump Supporters in David Letterman Interview

    The Daily Beast today published a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West — which addresses music, fashion, West’s late mother and of course his much-criticized support of President Trump — on his Netflix show, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31. The article praises the hour-long session as “not only one of the [...]

  • Richard AshcroftThe Ivors, London, UK -

    Richard Ashcroft Talks About ‘Emotional’ Legal Battle Over ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

    On Thursday, nearly 22 years after the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was released, singer Richard Ashcroft announced that the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards assigned to him the songwriter royalties and rights from the song, which samples one of their compositions, and removed their writing credits. The songwriting royalties and rights had been assigned [...]

  • Flying Lotus Flamagra

    Album Review: Flying Lotus’ ‘Flamagra’

    Veteran DJ/producer/artist/rapper Flying Lotus operates in a sort of netherworld between electronic, hip-hop, jazz and funk, without being particularly anchored in any earthly genre. He’s signed to the electronic label Warp, is the nephew of jazz great Alice Coltrane and the grandson of Marilyn MacLeod (cowriter of Diana Ross’ hit “Love Hangover”), and has worked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content