Following news that an “authorized” biopic about soul singer Sam Cooke and the strange circumstances surrounding his 1964 death was on the way, members of the Cooke family – including his younger brother L.C. Cooke – have since denied involvement in the project. The Cooke family, in association with ABKCO Films, were already at work on their own official Sam Cooke biopic, ABKCO said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
“Recent media reports about a proposed biographical film on the life of Sam Cooke and L.C. Cooke’s purported involvement with the project are false. ABKCO Films is the only company authorized by Sam Cooke’s widow and surviving siblings to produce a biopic of Sam Cooke’s life,” the statement read. While the film’s script – based on Peter Guralnick’s Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke – and cast still need to be solidified, the ABKCO biopic has already hired director Carl Franklin, who previously helmed Devil in a Blue Dress and Out of Time.
Producer Romeo Antonio, who said that he had family approval to begin work on a film focusing on Cooke’s mysterious death, also claimed that L.C. Cooke signed off on his film, but L.C. denies any role in a competing biopic. “Reports that I am involved with or have endorsed any Sam Cooke film biography other than the one that ABKCO Films is producing are totally false. I have been working with ABKCO for many years and am looking forward to bringing Sam’s story to the public in the near future,” L.C. Cooke said in a statement.
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter how the “murder-mystery” version could brand itself as “Cooke family-approved” when ABKCO already had the official rights to Cooke’s story, Antonio responded, “Saying ‘the family and siblings’ is 100% incorrect! Brother David, [Cooke’s former sister-in-law] Phyllis and [the singer’s nephew] Eugene completely back my movie!”
Sam Cooke had three children and seven siblings – who in turn had children of their own – so there are no shortage of Cooke family members to recruit to give their seal of approval to a variety of Cooke projects. However, the official stand of the Cooke family is that the ABKCO biopic is the only official film about the soul singer.