The depiction of the music, development and lifestyles of musicians by Hollywood has a chequered history. Lady Sings the Blues, a platform for Dianna Ross, was sooo bad it isn`t even shown on tiny TV channels at 3am, and by it`s very title, Joe Public think Billie was a blues singer!! Thanks Motown. There have been
good ones, Ray(Charles), Sweet Dreams(Patsi Cline) and the one about Tina Turner, I can`t remember the title. And why were these better? Simple, because the actors mimed the vocals, unlike Ms Ross. As far as biopics of jazz musicians are concerned, there aren`t that many of them, a bit niche for Hollywood I suspect. Consider the problems that confronted Clint Eastwood 1-85% of Americans have never heard of Charlie Parker.2- Bird is a movie, not , a documentary.3-Movies are produced to turn a profit, no different to a can of Pepsi.3-Clint has 2 hours to condense 34 years.4-He was unproven as a director. As far as Warner Brothers were concerned he was Dirty Harry who fancied himself as a director, and Hollywood is littered with actors who thought they could direct and flopped. They don`t all become Woody Allen, Richard Attenborough and Clint Eastwood. 4-Bird, was consequently, a low budget movie. As far as casting Bird, Denzel Washington would have been too expensive, Morgan Freeman too old, for me Forest Whitaker does a great job. I guess Clint could have cast a jazz musician, but the Dexter Gordon experiment was only going to happen once. Middle America needed a name, and they would have heard of Forest Whitaker...Just. To make the movie commercial Clint would have had to concentrate on the legend, although the crashing cymbal was I believe Jo Jones (not Philly Joe). Bird`s chaotic lifestyle, his addictions, his relationships resonate with popcorn chomping filmgoers more I`m afraid than his contribution to 20th Century art. Sad but true. Faced with all of these dilemmas, I think Clint did a great job. If he had made a film purely about Bird`s music, just for jazz lovers, I doubt you would fill the front row.