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Buddy Holly Movie ‘Clear Lake’ in Development

Veteran creative executives Rick French and Patrick Shanahan are partnering with Buddy Holly’s widow on “Clear Lake,” depicting Holly’s 1958 music tour with Clarence Collins, Variety has learned exclusively.

French is the chairman and CEO of North Carolina-based marketing firm French/West/Vaughan and Shanahan is the founder and president of Denim Buffalo Films. They have teamed to form Prix Productions, with French serving as managing partner focused on IP acquisition, financing, and production, and Shanahan focused on writing and directing.

“Clear Lake” is being produced in association with Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly; the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation; and BMG, which manages the Holly Estate intellectual property and U.S. music publishing rights. The film will follow Holly and Collins, founder of Little Anthony & the Imperials, as they tour together in the racially charged days of 1958 as part of the “Biggest Show of Stars Tour.” Shanahan and French are collaborating on the story with Shanahan writing the screenplay.

Prix Prods. is planning a $12 million budget for “Clear Lake” with production beginning in February to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Holly’s death in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa, following his final concert at the Surf Ballroom. Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson, known as the Big Bopper, also died in the crash.

Holly broke out in 1957 with the song “That’ll Be the Day,” which sold more than a million records. His life was depicted in 1978’s “The Buddy Holly Story,” which won the Academy Award for adapted score. Gary Busey was nominated for best actor.

Prix is also producing a documentary on the world hunger crisis and the United Nation’s goal of feeding the world by 2030. Production begins next month.

French and Shanahan recently worked together on the Ira David Wood III/Reece Thompson/Madison Iseman drama “The Fox Hunter,” which Shanahan wrote and directed. French is also an executive producer on the recently completed “The True Don Quixote,” starring Tim Blake Nelson.

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