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EXCLUSIVE: After stepping up as a producer on his next film Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple has found its next Martin Scorsese project and its subject is a band the Oscar winner knows well. Sources tell Deadline, Scorsese is on board to direct and produce a new untitled biopic on the Grateful Dead with Jonah Hill on board to play the group’s frontman, Jerry Garcia. Hill will also produce the pic.
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who received rave reviews for penning American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, are writing the script with Rick Yorn of LBI Entertainment joining Hill and Scorsese as producers. Bernie Cahill, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Trixie Garcia and Eric Eisner will exec produce. Insiders add that with the band and the group’s management participating in the film, Apple has rights to use the groups musical catalogue for the film.
While its unknown what will be covered in the film, the story of the group goes back to the band’s formation in the Bay Area amid the rise of the psychedelic counterculture of the ’60s. They continued to record albums and conduct tours where Deadhead fans would follow them throughout the years all over the country for lengthy rave-like jam sessions. The good times came to an end when band leader Jerry Garcia died in 1995, though surviving members have done their best to carry on.
Scorsese has a long track record of producing and directing rock docus over the years which included a Grateful Dead doc Long Strange Trip in 2017 but this would mark the first time the director has gone the biopic route for an iconic musical act. The project also reunites Hill and Scorsese, who first worked together on The Wolf of Wall Street, which earned Hill his second Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. The two have been looking for something to work on together ever since then and the opportunity to play a rock legend like Garcia was too good to pass up for Hill.
The project is another big win for Apple as they continue to build up a versatile and strong slate of film projects with plenty of star power with Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon among the first major scores for the studio. That film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons and recently wrapped filming. Other recent films added to the slate include Ridley Scott’s Napoleon pic Kitbag starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jodie Comer, Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation starring Will Smith and an new untitled thriller starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
The film also comes on the heels of Scorsese and his production banner Sikelia Productions signing a first look deal with Apple last year for film and TV. Scorsese and Hill are repped by WME and LBI Entertainment. Alexander and Karaszewski are repped by Management 360 and atttorney Christine Cuddy at Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo.
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