The Jerry Garcia biopic that's currently in the works has hit a major roadblock, as Grateful Dead productions is blocking any use of the Dead's or Garcia's music for the film. They've also stated that director/producer Amir Bar-Lev will not be granted access to any of Garcia's family members.
"We want to make clear that neither Grateful Dead Productions nor the Jerry Garcia Family LLC are in any way working with - or are in any other way affiliated with - the supposed upcoming Amir Bar-Lev-directed biopic about Jerry Garcia," Grateful Dead Productions said in a released statement. "Furthermore, we will not be licensing any recordings from Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia's music library for this production nor will we provide the producer/director with access to any Garcia family members."
The Garcia biopic, which is supposed to chronicle a young Garcia's pre-Dead life, recently confirmed that a script based upon Robert Greenfield's "Dark Star: An Oral History Of Jerry Garcia" has been written and Bar-Lev has signed on to direct. Obviously, without the use of any Grateful Dead music or access to those closest to them, the validity of this project is now in question.
What exactly happened? Book rights are usually sold well in advance for film adaptations, so if the film really was to be adapted from "Dark Star," money has most likely already been exchanged for this project. But music licensing can get tricky these days and it sounds as if an agreement couldn't be made over how much the studios would be willing to pay for access to the catalog - either that, or the Grateful Dead Productions just aren't confident in lending out the Dead's rich source material.
Because of the pre-Dead timeframe of the story, it's still possible to pull the movie off. But it's rather hard to imagine a Jerry Garcia film without the familiar chorus of "Uncle John's Band" - that song just screams "montage sequence."
Thanks for the report to Spinner.com.