Ramblin' Rhodes: James Brown movie shaping up to be interesting tale

Director Tate Taylor announced in August that he would film a movie about James Brown in his native Mississippi. The city gained $13.5 million.

Guess how much money Augusta lost because of the James Brown movie bio Get On Up being filmed in Jackson, Miss., rather than Brown’s real life hometown of Augusta?


If you guessed $13.5 million you would be right.

That’s the figure the film’s director, Tate Taylor, gave at the annual meeting of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership on Jan. 22.

The Jackson Free Press reported that Taylor, a native of Jackson, opened the meeting by telling partnership members that the Get On Up producers “spent $27 million filming in Mississippi and that half of that sum went to Jackson.”

Augusta, at one point, might have had a chance.

Deanna Brown Thomas recently told Jet magazine, “It was evident that once Mick Jagger stepped in as a co-producer with Brian Grazer things really began to take shape.

“Not too long thereafter, the production team paid my father’s hometown, Augusta, Ga., a visit. That is when I also met Chadwick Boseman who played the lead in the Jackie Robinson biopic. He is a great actor. I am thrilled that he is taking on my father’s role.”

Filming of Get On Up wrapped up a few weeks ago after filming was done throughout November, December and January.

Most of the movie was filmed in and around Jackson except for some concert scenes filmed in Natchez.

Executive producer Trish Hoffman was quoted by the Mississippi-theme Web site gulflive.com as saying, “Once we start shooting, it’s like a speeding train. We don’t advertise where or what day we’re going to shoot scenes, but we’ll be all over the area.”

Well, they may not have advertised in advance where they were filming, but several casting call Web sites put out the word where filming would take place in looking for extras.

Two months before filming began, the casting call sites were seeking a 5- to 7-month-old African-American boy “or a girl that can pass for a boy” to be James Brown’s son Teddy when he was a baby.

Those who know the JB life story know it was Teddy, the son of JB and his first wife Velma Warren Brown, who was killed in 1973 in a car accident.

The cast and crew lineup on the Internet Movie Data Base Web site does list actress Jacinte Blankenship playing a minor role of “Velma.”

But the wife most prominent in the movie is being portrayed by actress/singer Jill Scott.

The popular Web site huffingtonpost.com has noted, “The biopic chronicles Brown’s rise to fame as well as his subsequent drug addiction, arrest for domestic violence and impending bankruptcy. The part of Brown’s wife is being written specifically for Scott. Which of Brown’s three wives Scott will portray is unclear.”

But gulflive.com has reported that Scott, a Grammy-winning singer, “will play Brown’s second wife, Deidre “Deedee” Jenkins.”

Jenkins, herself, was in Augusta for a funeral a few weeks ago and told me that Scott is playing her.

And to back up that, the imdb.com site lists actor David Horace Greer in a minor role as “Deidre’s Apollo Date.”

Now this is going to be interesting since, to my knowledge, JB never was arrested for domestic violence with either Velma or Deedee. That was, of course, with Adrienne, his third wife.

Yet the imdb.com site and many other sites talking about the cast do not list any actresses playing Adrienne, which is strange since the movie timetable ends in 1993 when he was married to Adrienne (1984-1996).

One of the first big scenes filmed was on Nov. 22-23 outside Jackson of what one Web site called “a really great car chase scene.”

Extras being sought for the filming were to play highway patrol and police officers with the men being cast having “no bigger than a 40 waist.”

This, of course, has to be the famous two-state chase in September 1988 that began at Brown’s Augusta office following a rather nasty incident and led across the Savannah River to South Carolina and then back to Augusta.

Two North Augusta police officers shot out the tires of his pickup truck on Martintown Road but that didn’t stop Brown.

The “chase” concluded with Brown driving his pickup on just rims at speeds less than 30 miles an hour and being followed slowly by 14 patrol cars with blazing lights. He eventually stopped and was arrested.

That led to him being sentenced to six years in prison of which he served two years and two months and was put on probation for five years.

I can’t wait to see how the movie version of that “chase” is shown.

On Dec. 7, the movie crew filmed Brown doing a concert for black and white soldiers in Vietnam in 1968. I actually was there for that real concert.

Only this time, instead of Long Binh Post, the Natchez-Adams County Airport was the scene for the movie Vietnam concert.

The casting call for extras stated that only men 18 to 30 would be cast and no women. Guess the movie folks didn’t know that women also served in Vietnam as Red Cross workers and soldiers.

The officer in charge of the communications center where I was stationed, in fact, was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joan Blakeley from Iowa.

Other concert scenes filmed include his appearance at the T.A.M.I. show in 1964 in California (filmed in Natchez on Dec. 13); a neighborhood street party set in 1942 (filmed in Natchez on Dec. 14); a concert in Paris set in 1971 (filmed Jan. 7 in Jackson); and a smaller concert scene set in 1993 (filmed Jan. 10 in Jackson).

Brown’s famous performance in 1962 at New York City’s Apollo Theater recorded for his Live At The Apollo album this time was filmed Dec. 17-18 at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center in Natchez.

Any way, we will know what scenes and which characters filmed made the final cut when the movie is released on Aug. 1, 2014.