For over a decade now, Spike Lee has been attempting to revive George Gershwin’s 1935 folk opera story, but he’s been met with some tough opposition from the Gershwin estate.
The filmmaker was close at one point, but the whole deal fell apart after a tense back and forth negotiation.
A film version of it was actually shot in 1959, starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandrige, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Pearl Bailey. But the film is nowhere to be found.
It’s hard to get a hold of and isn’t good quality.
The Gershwin estate was disappointed with the project and removed it from release in 1974. But Lee wants the classic story to be told all over again after being inspired by the 2012 Broadway revival.
“That’s still in the works. As a film not a play,” he clarified as we had just been talking about Lee’s first Broadway gig, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.”
He later added, “Yeah I want to make it, but I’m in long discussions with both estates,” he said, meaning The Gershwin and Heyward estates. The libretto was written by DuBose Heyward, who also wrote “Porgy,” the 1925 novel that was eventually adapted into “Porgy and Bess” in 1935 with music by Gershwin.
Despite the difficulties he’s encountered along the way, he affirmed that it’s going to get done eventually, hopefully.
In the meantime, his Michael Jackson documentary, “Bad 25” will debut at the Venice Film Festival at the end of the month.