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Zoe Saldana’s Nina Simone biopic might be doomed

The movie portraying Nina Simone’s life is surrounded by controversy.

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Nina, Ealing Studios’ movie chronicling the life of legendary jazz musician Nina Simone, is set to debut this week at Cannes. However, the movie has been shrouded in controversy ever since casting was announced, leaving many to question the fate of the film.

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Nina first came under fire when it was announced that Rosemary’s Baby actress Zoe Saldana would be playing the title role. Many Simone fans voiced their disappointment in the choice, citing racial differences, departure in appearance between Simone and Zaldana and the fact that Saldana’s voice would not be up to par.

Simone’s family members have also had a hard time swallowing some of the plot content. Daughter Simone claims that the movie’s love story between the singer and her assistant, Clifton Henderson, is completely false, according to Clutch magazine. Simone penned an open letter to the producers of the flick, saying, “Please note, this project is unauthorized. The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate.” She added: “By the way: Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is… Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one. Please correct me, but isn’t a biopic the story of one’s life?”

Casting and plot criticisms aside, the biggest problem at hand for the film now appears to be an internal issue. Earlier this week, Nina’s co-writer and director Cynthia Mort filed a lawsuit against the British Ealing Studios production company, claiming the terms of her directing deal had been breached, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Apparently Mort no longer wants to be linked to the film because it is not representative of her original vision. The suit, filed by attorney Howard Weitzman, states, “She (Mort) worked tirelessly to prepare the Film for a wide and successful commercial release. Yet, throughout the course of the Film’s production and post-production, Defendants consistently acted to frustrate Mort’s involvement in the Film, thereby breaching the Director Agreement.”

There are plenty of Hollywood legends involving TV shows and movies that have been cursed. Recently, WGN’s show Salem was rumored to be jinxed after several cast members were injured on set. Mia Farrow and the rest of the original Rosemary’s Baby production team were thought to be ill-fated as well.

Only time will tell for Nina, and we’ll be watching to see how the premiere turns out at this week’s festival.

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