The director of a forthcoming movie about Martin Luther King Jr. has vowed he won’t show him in bed with a prostitute.
For months now, King’s family has been nervous about “Selma.” Produced by Brad Pitt and “Slumdog Millionaire” Oscar-winner Christian Colson, the project’s script portrays King (r.) as the tireless martyr of America’s civil rights movement. But Paul Webb’s screenplay also shows him to be a flesh-and-blood man who had, as his colleague Ralph Abernathy wrote, a “weakness for women.”
In one scene, President Lyndon Johnson tells FBI director J. Edgar Hoover that he doesn’t know or care “whether [King] has a gargantuan appetite for p- or whether he just sometimes needs a woman’s touch when he’s away from home …”
In another scene at a Washington hotel, King meets a flirtatious woman who tells him, “You look like you need some tender loving care, honey.”
“You’re way out of my price bracket,” says King.
“I’ll donate part of my fee to the cause,” she says.
Soon thereafter, Hoover’s agents are seen recording King’s lovemaking with the woman, as well as their postcoital conversation. King’s wife, Coretta, receives a copy of the tape, with an anonymous blackmail letter.
The Nobel Prize winner actually received such a tape and letter. According to King biographer David Garrow, King explained his numerous extramarital affairs as “a form of anxiety reduction.” In 1968, according to historian Taylor Branch, he admitted to Coretta that he’d carried on a five-year romance with a married woman.
Still, King’s heirs are trying to keep his dalliances out of “Selma.” Last week, a rep for Martin Luther King 3rd told us, “Our attorneys are reviewing the script.”
But now, “Selma” director Lee Daniels tells us the Kings can relax. “The script they have is not my script,” says Daniels, whose last movie, “Precious,” has sparked major Oscar buzz.
Daniels is still “evaluating” the draft by Webb (who has written a script on Abraham Lincoln for Steven Spielberg). But Daniels says he doesn’t believe the hooker scene is necessary.
“This project is still in an embryonic stage,” he says. “But I can tell you my story focuses on the civil rights marches. It’s not about tapes and prostitutes. It’s about the African-American man who changed history.”