So the film company DreamWorks announces it’s planning a big screen biopic of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And what do two of his children do? They threaten to sue. Why? They weren’t consulted by their brother.
If ever there was a time for their mom and dad to be here to stop this foolishness, it’s now.
The principals involved are, on one side, Dexter King, and on the other, his brother and sister, Bernice and Martin III.
The latter say they had no input at all in brokering the deal with DreamWorks, which lists the venerable director Steven Spielberg as co-producer. The project was greenlighted by Dexter, who happens to be chair and CEO of King Inc.
Bernice and Martin III say they found out about the film project in an e-mail from their brother, and say it’s moving forward without their blessing. That likely means yet another lawsuit pitting King against King. There are currently three outstanding, including one involving a book deal worth a reported $1.4 million dollars about the life of their mother Coretta Scott King. That deal fell apart, BTW.
All this is a stain on the legacy of their parents.
I’m sure both sides here would argue this isn’t about money, and certainly not about sibling rivalry, but just what is it about? Does Dexter really think it’s appropriate to make a film deal and tell his brother and sister about it in an e-mail? Do Bernice and Martin III really want to file another lawsuit and continue a cycle that makes them look greedy and small?
While there have been several television movies on Dr. King’s life, there has only been one film, a documentary that was shown once in theaters, back in 1970. That’s why the nation loses if the Kings keep fighting. A well done theatrical film about Dr. King would go a long way toward keeping his legacy fresh in the minds of those who weren’t alive during the civil rights movement.
There is no excuse for the ugliness that has surrounded the Kings since this fighting began. Put simply, there’s more than enough blame to go around. If they’re not careful, people will substitute their squabbling for the extraordinary work both Martin and Coretta Scott King did during their lives.
It’s not worth the money, or the control. Dexter, Bernice, Martin III, somehow you’ve forgotten you are family. Sit down, break bread, end the lawsuits, and most importantly, live up to your family legacy.
That’s what your parents would want, isn’t it?
How far do you think this should go and who should give?