Spielberg, along with Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones, is producing what is billed as the “definitive” King biopic for DreamWorks Studios, while Daniels’s project, titled “Selma,” is already causing the King family concern for its inclusion of King’s reported extra-marital affairs.
In one scene, according to the New York Daily News, President Lyndon Johnson tells FBI director J. Edgar Hoover that he doesn’t know or care “whether [King] has a gargantuan appetite for p***y or whether he just sometimes needs a woman’s touch when he’s away from home …”
In another scene at a Washington hotel, King meets a prostitute who tells him, “You look like you need some tender loving care, honey.”
“You’re way out of my price bracket,” says King.
“I’ll donate part of my fee to the cause,” she says.
Soon thereafter, Hoover’s agents are seen recording King’s sexual encounter with the woman, as well as their postcoital conversation. King’s wife, Coretta, receives a copy of the tape, with an anonymous blackmail letter.
The Nobel Prize winner actually received such a tape and letter. King biographer David Garrow explained his numerous extramarital affairs as “a form of anxiety reduction.” In 1968, according to historian Taylor Branch, Dr. King admitted to Coretta that he’d carried on a five-year romance with a married woman.
Daniels, however, says his film – from producers Brad Pitt and “Slumdog Millionaire” Oscar-winner Christian Colson – will not show Dr. King in bed with the prostitute. He believes the scene is unnecessary.
“This project is still in an embryonic stage,” he tells film site Risky Business. “But I can tell you my story focuses on the civil rights marches. It’s not about tapes and prostitutes. It’s about the African-American man who changed history.”
Meanwhile, DreamWorks just announced the hiring of Oscar-winning playwright and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “The Pianist”) to pen Spielberg’s King biopic.
The DreamWorks project marks the first film to be authorized by King’s estate and gives the producers the right to utilize King’s intellectual property — including his famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered during the 1963 March on Washington — to create the definitive portrait of his life.