*In the wake of a Broadway’s Tony-nominated musical about Nigerian musician/activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a feature film about the artist is being developed at Focus Features with British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role.
Based on Michael Veal’s book, the story follows the life of the late African musician and activist whose music fused American jazz, funk and West African drums. In his personal life, he had 27 wives and suffered personal costs for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria.
Ejiofor – last seen in TV’s “Endgame” and the films “American Gangster” and “Talk to Me” – has apparently been learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare for the role.
Though Fela is the subject of the Broadway musical “Fela!” which received 11 Tony nominations yesterday, the musical is not connected to the film project in anyway, according to Deadline New York. Focus however has scored screen rights to Fela’s music and his life story, plus Veal’s book.
Steve McQueen (“Hunger”) is directing from a script he co-wrote with Biyi Bandel. Lydia Pilcher and Leigh Blake are producing.
Ejiofor will next be seen opposite Angelina Jolie in “Salt,” due in theaters this July.