*“Empire” creator Lee Daniels will direct “The Apollo Theater Film Project,” a documentary that chronicles the history of New York’s famed Apollo Theater.
It was the home of “Showtime at the Apollo,” a nationally syndicated television variety show which showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008, encompassing 1093 episodes.
Lee’s documentary will highlight how Apollo shaped American music and the cultural impact it had, most especially in New York. The theater was born out of the Harlem Renaissance and was the Harlem’s answer to Carnegie Hall, AlwaysAList.com notes. Folks who frequented the theater will also be featured in the film to discuss their fond memories.
Oscar-nominated Daniels, and the Apollo’s President and CEO Jonelle Procope, have both petitioned the public to submit images, memorabilia, personal concert videos and other nostalgia to help enhance the film.
“We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material — audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film,” Daniels and Procope said in announcing the project. “We have established a website for anyone who wants to submit. We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property.”
Known as the place “where stars are born and legends are made,” music artists who got their start at the Apollo include: Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo, and Machine Gun Kelly. Jimi Hendrix won the first place prize in an amateur musician contest at the Apollo in 1964.
It is estimated that 1.3 million people visit the Apollo every year.
In related news, Lee’s hit Fox series “Empire” returns March 30, and he’s also in production on a second drama for Fox called “Star.”