Spike Lee Boards Disco Biopic

The Hollywood Reporter (AFM Edition) – November 7, 2013

As the American Film Market got underway Wednesday, Foresight Unlimited’s Mark Damon and filmmaker Timothy Scott Bogart were delivered a sizeable gift: Spike Lee’s deal to direct Justin Timberlake in their Neil Bogart biopic Spinning Gold is closed.

Lee is a potent boost for the project, which stars Timberlake as the late Neil Bogart, the infamous record executive who was closely aligned with the rise of disco. Tim Bogart is Bogart’s son, and wrote the script.

“Spike’s exploration of the complexities of his characters is exhilarating. No one does it better,” Tim Bogart told The Hollywood Reporter. “I reached out to him personally and directly about six weeks ago. He asked me to come to Brooklyn, and I took a red-eye flight. We talked all the next day.”

A poor kid from Brooklyn, Bogart went on to define the pop- music culture of his time (Lee knew of Bogart and his music when growing up in Brooklyn). In his day, Bogart, who died in 1982 at age 39, was credited with dis- covering and launching the careers of a generation of superstars, including Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Gladys Knight, Donna Summer and KISS. He was the founder of Casablanca Records.

Bogart and Damon are producing Spinning Gold alongside Timberlake, Laurence Mark and Gary A. Randall. Foresight is financing the film, with Lee set to start shooting next summer.

Damon says he expects the Lee deal to spark a raft of sales at AFM. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquistions has already signed on to distribute the film in numer- ous markets. CAA is representing domestic rights.

“International distributors, who were already very interested, have been waiting to see who the direc- tor would be, because the director is such a big part of the film. It needed to be a director that was elevated and who had a special touch. Spike Lee is such an out-of- the ordinary talent,” said Damon.

Bogart said his dad would have been pleased with the choice. “With Justin and Spike on board,” he said, “I can only imagine the premiere party he would have planned.”

by Pamela McClintock