Scripts about Jimi Hendrix all lack excitement

September 27, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Janis Joplin got the feature-film treatment in the fictionalized "The Rose" (1979). Jim Morrison's life will be dramatized in Oliver Stone's upcoming movie about The Doors. But a feature film about legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix -- who died in 1970 at 27 -- is still without voltage.

Alan Douglas, who supervises the production of the Hendrix music catalogs and related merchandising (including the upcoming concert video of Hendrix's last major concert at the Isle of Wight Festival), says he receives a steady stream of scripts -- many of them from independent producers and "smaller studios" that promise financing. At present, "a stack about 3 1/2 feet tall is sitting in my office."

The problem is, says Douglas, "they all say the same thing -- nothing. We've yet to see one that's got something to say about him that's special."

Douglas, who produced Band of Gypsies -- Hendrix's final group -- says there were talks several years ago with Warner Bros. and various film makers. "But nothing ever got going. I don't think anyone understood how to write the story," says Douglas, who claims "Jimi was all music. That's what he was about. Consequently, you don't have the colorful stories of a Jim Morrison or a Janis Joplin. There are no sordid stories."

But, what about all those tales, many of which have made their way into assorted Hendrix bios, about the sensuous rocker's appetite for women and drugs?

"So what! The guy was a superstar at 25. Sure he had a lot of women. And, yeah, he did drugs -- like everyone else. But his isn't the story of a junkie." Stressing that Hendrix died of asphyxiation when he choked on his own vomit -- "not from a straight overdose" -- Douglas adds, "sex and drugs were a part of the backdrop of the times. But they weren't what he was about."

Donald Sutherland joins the cast of Imagine's "Backdraft," the drama about an arson investigation currently shooting in Chicago under the direction of Ron Howard. Sutherland will play the arsonist. Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Rebecca De Mornay and Jason Gedrick co-star.

In TIG Productions' "China Moon," Ed Harris will star as a Florida homicide cop who finds himself on the wrong side of the law TC when his lover, Madeleine Stowe, kills her husband. The film, executive produced by Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, will be directed by John Bailey from Roy Carlson's script. Production on the Orion release gets under way Oct. 1.

Sondra Locke, whose last directorial effort was "Impulse," has signed with Orion to direct "Oh, Baby," a comedy set in the wonderful world of genetic engineering.

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