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There's a Buddy Holly Biopic in Development Again

Mario Van Peebles is now attached to direct the upcoming Buddy Holly movie 'That'll Be the Day.'

buddy holly
Source: Geffen Records

Buddy Holly was an early rock and roll pioneer.

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Here's another music biopic to add to your list: Mario Van Peebles has been tapped to direct the upcoming Buddy Holly movie That'll Be the Day.

Variety reports that the film will tell "the story of how Buddy Holly and other musicians of the late 1950s helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll and influence the wider societal and cultural landscape, including the civil rights movement."

“America’s tumultuous cultural melting pot has produced transcendent musical talent, including Buddy Holly, who was our first bad ass rock ’n’ roll nerd,” Van Peebles said in a statement.

Van Peebles, son of the late blaxploitation filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, previously directed the 1991 movie New Jack City and co-executive produced Hulu's series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which premiered in 2019. He also directed several episodes of the show.

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mario van peebles
Source: MEGA

Mario Van Peebles is attached to direct.

Van Peebles will direct That’ll Be the Day from a script penned by Patrick Shanahan and Matthew Benjamin based on a story by Rick French and Stephen Easley, general counsel to the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.

French is also producing alongside Stuart Benjamin, who previously produced the 1987 Lou Diamond Phillips-starring Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba and 2004's hit Ray Charles biopic Ray.

BMG, which manages the Buddy Holly estate and control's the rights to his music, provided development funding for the project. Easley, David Hirshland, and Peter Bradley, Jr. of the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation are executive producers, and Buddy Holly's widow Maria Elena Holly is serving as an associate producer.

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Although his career was all-too-brief – essentially just spanning two years, 1957 and 1958 – Buddy Holly was a pioneering figure in early rock and roll music who played a huge role in the genre's mainstream success.

In February 1959, after a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to travel to his next gig in Moorhead, Minnesota. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board: Holly, 22, other early rock and roll stars Ritchie Valens, 17, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28, and pilot Roger Peterson.

The tragedy, which came to be known as "The Day the Music Died," was later immortalized in Don McLean's 1971 No. 1 hit "American Pie."

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buddy holly
Source: UMG Recordings

Buddy Holly's career was cut short by a tragic plane crash in 1959.

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This isn't the first time that a Buddy Holly biopic has been attempted — or even the first time that this Buddy Holly biopic has been attempted.

In 2020, Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford was attached to helm an earlier version of the script for That'll Be the Day. That version of the project, then entitled Clear Lake, was going to star Irish actor Ruairi O’Connor as Holly alongside Colin Hanks as Holly's manager and producer Norman Petty, Diane Guerrero as Holly's wife Maria Elena Holly, and rapper Nelly as rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry.

Garey Busey previously played Holly in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story, which won an Academy Award for best score.


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