Several years ago I agreed to write the screenplay of Sammy Davis Jr.’s life story for Actor/Comedian Tommy Davidson through a mutual friend of ours, Tommy Pooch, the Associate Producer, who is actively shopping the script around with Tommy Davidson.
The daunting task of taking Sammy’s life which spanned 60 years on stage from vaudeville to television to movies to Broadway and London productions, mixed with the Civil Rights Movement and the Rat Pack generation of stars to his music, dancing(hoofing), losing his left eye in a car accident, made a pariah for marrying a white woman, changing Las Vegas’ rules of “No Blacks Allowed” to stay in the hotels, to staying at the Whitehouse with President Nixon, and so much more, that to squeeze it into basically a two hour movie was to say at the very least an incredible, if not, overwhelming challenge.
It was like writing a real-life Forrest Gump Movie.
But I loved Sammy and really wanted to honor him the only way I knew how. So I looked up everything I could about him on You Tube to actually watch as much footage of him as I could. There is a wealth of great videos of him even all the way back to when he was 7 years old and played in a movie, RUFUS JONES FOR PRESIDENT, in which he gets to sing and tap. WOW! Talk about having enough material to use. But still, I had to put together his personal, offstage life which was the most difficult of all. Sammy was extremely complex to put down on paper, because he was a great guy, but like all of us, with flaws, and an ugly side, and I needed to show that side of him while striving to keep him sympathetic and likeable, and most of all, redeemable. And it had to be truthful. Since I never knew Sammy personally that was the hardest part of all. I can only hope I succeeded. As Tommy Davidson told me when I completed the first draft, “You are the first person to put pen to paper to write Sammy Davis Jr.’s life story as a movie.”
Although, it has been several years since I completed it, I recently picked it back up and did a complete rewrite, tightening it where I could, rearranging scenes and making it, I believe, even better than it was. I put on my producer’s hat and cut it from 150 pages to 129 pages, streamlining it while keeping the theme and emotional aspect of it intact. With Tommy D’s input I have rewritten this screenplay several times over, always with the idea of gearing it to be produced and Tommy D. playing the lead.
I don’t know what, if anything will become of it, but certainly, the time is ripe for this story to be made into a movie. Hollywood loves biopics, and whose life story is better to tell than perhaps the greatest entertainer of the 20th century.
As it has been a dream for Tommy Davidson to play Sammy, I can only hope and pray he gets that chance and the script they use will be mine. 🙂 That would be my dream!
Tommy Davidson and I at the Hard Rock in Hollywood after one of his stand up shows. Hilarious, by the way. I presented him with a copy of Gideon the Novel and he graciously took this picture with me.
In any case, here is the logline.
Normally I would post my script on its page, but this script I must keep under wraps as it is being sent out to be produced. I am extremely excited and hopeful this script will be picked up for Tommy D. and greenlit.
We thank you again for visiting.
RW and AY