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Berry Gordy Wants to Tell Motown’s Story on Broadway


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For decades, the Motown Records catalog has been an untouched Broadway gold mine, mostly because the label's founder, Berry Gordy, has been reluctant to allow producers to use his tunes. A version of the Motown story was told in the musical Dreamgirls, but that show painted its Gordy-inspired character in a negative light and therefore did not get permission to use Motown tracks. However, according to the New York Post, the 81-year-old Gordy, with help from a Rent producer, is finally planning to bring the label's history and music to the stage. The musical will tell the Motown story from Gordy's perspective, so instead of being the power-hungry, back-stabbing mogul he probably was in real life, Berry will be the hero. It'll be like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, but without the dangerous wire stunts (and with better music).

"Berry's been wanting to do this for a long time. He's got the money and investors lined up," a source told the Post. "He's trying to involve Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson. This is Berry's chance to set the record straight." Given the huge number of classic songs in the Motown catalog, you could probably stage at least four musicals based on the record label and still have enough music left over for a dozen Off-Broadway shows and an episode of Glee. Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson 5, early Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Spinners, and many more artists you've heard of all recorded music for the Detroit label.

In addition to the Motown musical, Berry is still working on the long-gestating Marvin Gaye biopic, which at one point drew the interest of directors Cameron Crowe and F. Gary Gray before both left after disputes with Gordy over music rights. "[Gordy] basically owns the rights to the Marvin Gaye story, and he's been quietly blocking the scripts and music because he doesn't want his name dragged through the mud," the source said. Gaye and Gordy had what you could call a tumultuous relationship, so a Gaye biopic probably wouldn't paint Gordy in the best light. Gaye married (then divorced) Gordy's sister Anna, which is how Gordy came to own the rights to Marvin's life story in the first place. Director Julien Temple is reportedly now helming the Gaye biopic.

[Photo: Maury Phillips/]


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