Chess Records Biopic Arrives in March

 

Jerry Zaks-directed Who
Do You Love already picking up some film festival love. Features Robert
Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and others in key musical roles.

 

 

By Blurt Staff

 

It’s not the first time Chess Records has been portrayed on
the big screen – the label was referenced in Back to the Future, of course, and more recently it was given a
semi-fictional treatment with the Adrian Brody vehicle Cadillac Records (go here to see Blurt’s coverage of that film).

 

But Chess remains fertile storytelling turf, so following
the acclaimed premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival of Who Do You Love – the new film
from four-time Tony Award-winner Jerry
Zaks (Marvin’s Room) – Chess will get a fresh look in theaters
beginning in March/April 2010.

 

The film, which presents an intimate look into the lives of Leonard and Phil Chess, legendary
founders of Chess Records, stars
Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant
Chanel
, Junebug), Jon
Abrahams (Meet The Parents), acclaimed musicians Robert Randolph (as Bo Diddley), Keb’ Mo’,  Raheem DeVaughn and Ryan Shaw, David Oyelowo (Last King Of Scotland), Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies,”
“Boston Legal”), Megalyn Ann
Echikunwoke and Marika Dominczyk.

 

The film features authentic musical performances and a score
steeped in hits from the Chess Records canon including Muddy Waters’ “Stuff You Gotta Watch,” Etta James’ “At Last,” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” The score is
assembled by renowned music supervisers Budd
Carr-who has provided his expertise to over 70 films including every
Oliver Stone film (JFK, The Doors, Born on the Fourth of July,
Natural Born Killers, etc.)-and Nora
Felder, who has overseen A&R efforts for Paul Simon, Sinead
O’Connor, Les Paul and Iggy Pop.

Who Do You Love tells the story of Leonard Chess, a Polish immigrant
living in Chicago,
who becomes enamored with the new blues sound emanating from the city in the
mid-1940s. Chess and his brother Phil open a club called Macomba and gamble on
producing “race records” with the help of bass player and songwriter Willie Dixon. After initial failure,
they find tremendous success with the iconic bluesman Muddy Waters, and on the strength of his popularity, started Chess
Records. Chess Records quickly grew into an influential label, launching the
careers of Waters, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Chuck Berry, among others, and introducing the Blues to American
audiences on a broader scale. Who Do You Love tracks the growth of Chess
Records, but more importantly, presents a poignant look into the strains the
label placed on Leonard Chess’ family, namely his wife Revetta and his son
Marshall.

Marshall Chess himself said, in
a statement, “Who Do You Love is a great snapshot of the era in which
the music that was to become the foundation of Rock & Roll was created. The
music, the cars, the clothes, and the many amazing characters of my childhood
are brought to life in this film, which also gives a taste of the many roads
travelled by my family to make Chess Records one of the greatest record labels
of all time.”

 

 

 

Leave a Reply