NASHVILLE (RPRN) 8/11/2009– 821 Entertainment Group CEO Eric Geadelmann and President Anastasia Brown today announced the company’s partnership with Strike Entertainment and the Hank Williams Estate to develop and produce the HANK WILLIAMS biopic. Strike has a long term production deal with Universal Pictures. 821 also announced the optioning of Colin Escott’s critically acclaimed HANK WILLIAMS: THE BIOGRAPHY.
“We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a cinematic experience that captures the essence of Hank’s life, death and artistry, in partnership with his estate, Marc Abraham and Strike Entertainment and Colin Escott,” said Geadelmann. Brown added, “The Hank Williams story was one we personally had to tell – it’s a powerful story of a true American music icon and one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century who tragically died at age 29. His creative handprint is still felt throughout the world today, which was one of the reasons we felt it important for us to do this with Hank’s heirs.”
Since his death on New Year’s Day 1953, Hank Williams has become one of the most powerfully iconic figures in American music. In his day, he was branded a country singer, but he now transcends category. He rose rapidly from grinding poverty in Depression era Alabama to national stardom, and his shockingly early death left the tantalizing promise of what might have been. His songs have become cornerstones of an alternative Great American Songbook; among them, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Jambalaya,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Cold, Cold Heart.” The workaday poetry of his lyrics and folk-like simplicity of his melodies created an audience more than a half-century ago, an audience that increases every year. Among the artists who have reinterpreted his songs and introduced his music to new generations are Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles.
“Even with a life ended too soon, some folks just leave an impression greater than their years,” said Hank Williams, Jr. “That’s the story of my father. A lot of life and joy and pain in a short time but his story goes on and on.”
Hanks’ daughter Jett Williams added, “Hank Williams was country music’s first superstar, and he didn’t know it. He was the Shakespeare of the common man, and he didn’t know it. His delivery and charisma have transcended the many decades since his death and he would no doubt be awed by it. I know I am.”
“It is hard to measure the excitement I feel and. . . the sense of responsibility,” said Marc Abraham (CHILDREN OF MEN). He added, “I have loved Hank Williams’ music from the time I was a small kid growing up in Kentucky. I truly believe that a story based on the pain and glory of Hank Williams’ life – one of America’s greatest artists – can be a thrilling motion picture and at the same time, it can examine the power and influence of art and music in our lives.
Beyond certain rights and access to exclusive archives and recordings negotiated with the Williams Estate, the producers have optioned Colin Escott’s Hank Williams – The Biography. Escott was also co-author of a photo essay, Hank Williams: Snapshots From The Lost Highway and cowrote and coproduced the American Masters’ documentary, Hank Williams – Honky Tonk Blues. A box set of recordings he coproduced for Universal Music, The Complete Hank Williams, won a Grammy. Escott will also serve as an associate producer of the feature project. Escott said, “Hank Williams’ life and career almost demand to be made into a movie, and I feel that the team associated with this production can deliver the Hank Williams movie we’ve always wanted to see.”
Marc Abraham and Eric Newman of Strike Entertainment have a longstanding partnership with Universal Studios and have produced such films as Children of Men, Dawn of the Dead and Spy Game. 821’s CEO Eric Geadelmann and President Anastasia Brown are executive producers, along with Strike’s Tom Bliss. G. Marq Roswell (THE GREAT DEBATERS) is serving as both a co-producer and music supervisor, along with Anastasia Brown (AUGUST RUSH).
821 Entertainment Group is represented by Jon Levin at CAA and Greenberg-Traurig.
About 821 Entertainment Group
821 Entertainment Group, Inc. is a media, entertainment and technology holding company with integrated assets in filmed entertainment, music, digital media and communications. Based in Nashville, the Company was launched in 2004 by technology entrepreneur Eric Geadelmann and music row veteran Anastasia Brown.
Source: 821 Entertainment Group