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  1. #1

    Disrespectful Robert Townsend

    Hi!

    I'm sorry to say, but I lost my respect for the director Robert Townsend.
    Please see Mickey McGill's od the Dells and my comments beneath the following video with an interview with Robert:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFcgebJRpmw

    Best regards
    Heikki

  2. #2
    Hi!

    I still put those comments here. First Michael McGill:

    Actor Michael Wright & Marvin Junior became good friends ..... Just ask Michael,
    because he's real, and will tell the truth about The 5 Heartbeats

    themightydells

    Really? The Making of The 5 Heartbeats, and omitting THE DELLS,
    who's life story was the SCRIPT for this great movie. Well it's a little late
    for that Robert Townsend, because the Genie is already 'Out of the Jug'
    and Everyone knows that The Mighty Dells were the Template for this movie.
    Maybe You should review, some of the Award Shows, where you presented The Dells with
    Awards for The 5 Heartbeats. Maybe you should tell The World, how The
    Dells performed "Oh What A Nite" and "Stay In My Corner" in the Movie, that you left
    on the Cutting Room Floor. Maybe you should stop lying.

  3. #3
    ... and then mine:

    Hi! Just a few sentences from my interview with the members of the Dells in the late 1990s:

    Chuck Barksdale: "This was not supposed to be a story about the Dells from the beginning. This was supposed to be a story about a stand-up vocal group, black, that was gonna be a comedy. Robert Townsend, the director, was brought to our dressing room by a young lady by the name of Kitty Sears, because he wanted to come and ask us, if it would be okay for him to use "Stay In My Corner" and "Oh What A Nite" in this up-coming comedy. When he mentioned 'comedy', Marvin Junior chimed in and said 'hey, wait a minute, ain't nothing funny about being a black stand-up vocal group. It's a major struggle, and the struggle continues today.' Robert said 'well, tell me more', and asked 'wait a minute, are you guys on tour now?' We said 'yes, we're on tour for the next six weeks.' He said 'do you mind, if I travel around with you. I like what I'm hearing so far.'" He travelled with us for the next six weeks. He watched our comradery, he heard us argue, saw us work on stage, riding on a bus, have dinner together. He took that and literally changed the script."

    Marvin Junior: "That was 85 % our story. When it was in the theatres, it was not that successful, but then they put it on video and on television, then it became very popular. The company didn't know how to handle that. They were so busy with the black movies with the killing and drugs and the whole bit - and here came a movie about entertainers, and they didn't quite know how to handle that."

    Michael McGill: "Don't ever let any other group or anybody else tell you that the movie was about them. Robert Townsend travelled with the Dells. Marvin told Robert things, and he was taking it all in --- so the story came from the Dells.

    Best regards/Heikki (Soul Express)

  4. #4
    Hmmm... These debates, discussions, and disagreements, particularly as relates to some of these (claimed semi-biographical) films ALWAYS begin to pop up. Dreamgirls???... Was it a film about The Supremes???...That's STILL debated by many and has never really been settled. The Temptations film which was based on Otis writing a book after all the other members had passed away leaving Otis as the only person who could tell that story in an "undisputed" way???...Was it an accurate depiction of the what actually occurred? I have personally spoken to folks quite close to the events in the film who say it was just a propaganda piece by Otis trying to make him look good and responsible for most, if not all of the groups success... others who believe it was just Otis trying to tell the groups story as he recalls it while trying to make a few bucks off the story for himself at the same time (I did enjoy the film, perhaps because I saw firsthand many of the incidents and had the opportunity to speak to group members, particularly one member who was a friend of mine going back to my youth) and who is to say how much was actually reality and how much was editorial license which occurs frequently in the film making process. Now all of a sudden this bruhaha pertaining to the Five Heartbeats film and what artists or groups may have been the inspiration. First of all...I though it was a pretty decent well produced...not a "great film" which may explain why it wasn't such a hit at the box office... Although I'm not as familiar with the entire history of the legendary Dells as I am with many of the Motown artists and groups (being a Detroit guy), and The Impressions were always my favorite Chicago group...but Marvin Junior was certainly an iconic R&B lead singer...one of the best. As for Townsend...I always did admire his determination in creating and building his career...from his initial efforts to produce his first successful endeavor...Hollywood Shuffle, which not being able to secure funding to make the film...reportedly put most of the production costs on his American Express card, which takes HUGE cajones and the acceptance of great risk. I never knew that about his relationship with David Ruffin and the dinner at Arethas house which he mentions in this interview, yet always assumed that the template for his Five Heartbeats film was more a compilation of the entire R&B group scene of the 50's and 60's, with a heavy emphasis on The Dells, and if it in fact did take him 10 years to produce the film as he claims...then hanging for a few weeks with The Dells would become perhaps a very significant part of the film, but not the entire story. To me...the lead singer in the film did in fact more closely resembled David Ruffin than Marvin Junior both stylistically and vocal range... So I understand how these controversy's arise, as they always seem to … As for the intergroup dynamics depicted in this film...having been the music director and bandleader for at least one such typical R&B/Soul group in the 60's, I can tell you for sure that these types of situations, arguments, disagreements, changes in personnel as guys quit for a variety of reasons and other come aboard and even fights were pretty commonplace and typical when you get five guys plus management together all with different ideas, real life situations, and up to and even what songs and in what order that nights performance would include. Coincidentally, just this past week I was reminded and had this discussion with a friend and former group mate about such an incident and dust-up I was personally involved with relating to what the song order of our show would be LOL...In the final analysis...it's the filmmaker who told the story that he/she wanted to tell, and whatever influenced their creative endeavor remains largely under the purview of their artistic license...except in cases where money is involved by way of plagiarism or other financial agreements, both of which are legal, not creative issues... Just my thoughts on this...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 09-01-2018 at 01:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Ok I'll admit I did not read everything here yet, but is Robert Townsend now claiming that "The Five Heartbeats" was not about the Dells?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Ok I'll admit I did not read everything here yet, but is Robert Townsend now claiming that "The Five Heartbeats" was not about the Dells?
    In the interview posted, Robert now claims David Ruffin was a "big part" of making "The Five Heartbeats" when for years it has always been about the Dells and that's why Mickey McGill had to address the situation.

    That said, Eddie Kane Jr. in the film definitely did take after David Ruffin.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    In the interview posted, Robert now claims David Ruffin was a "big part" of making "The Five Heartbeats" when for years it has always been about the Dells and that's why Mickey McGill had to address the situation.

    That said, Eddie Kane Jr. in the film definitely did take after David Ruffin.
    I believe he is lying. First all, there was no mention by Robert of David Ruffin in any of this promo interviews at the time. The film was released in the same year David passed (about 2 1/2 months before David died). Robert used the Dells in his promotion for the movie. If Eddie Kane Jr. was David Ruffin, then Big Red was Berry Gordy Jr. and that is not how they described who was the inspiration for that character at that time.
    I can remember Marvin Junior mentioning someone, a real person that did the thing Big Red did back in the day.

    Robert Townsend continually made a deal out of he and the Dells being from Chicago when he was promoting the film.

  8. #8
    He mentions being at David Ruffin's funeral. I was there and I do remember seeing him along with a host of celebrities, so what!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Hmmm... These debates, discussions, and disagreements, particularly as relates to some of these (claimed semi-biographical) films ALWAYS begin to pop up. Dreamgirls???... Was it a film about The Supremes???...That's STILL debated by many and has never really been settled. The Temptations film which was based on Otis writing a book after all the other members had passed away leaving Otis as the only person who could tell that story in an "undisputed" way???...Was it an accurate depiction of the what actually occurred? I have personally spoken to folks quite close to the events in the film who say it was just a propaganda piece by Otis trying to make him look good and responsible for most, if not all of the groups success... others who believe it was just Otis trying to tell the groups story as he recalls it while trying to make a few bucks off the story for himself at the same time (I did enjoy the film, perhaps because I saw firsthand many of the incidents and had the opportunity to speak to group members, particularly one member who was a friend of mine going back to my youth) and who is to say how much was actually reality and how much was editorial license which occurs frequently in the film making process. Now all of a sudden this bruhaha pertaining to the Five Heartbeats film and what artists or groups may have been the inspiration. First of all...I though it was a pretty decent well produced...not a "great film" which may explain why it wasn't such a hit at the box office... Although I'm not as familiar with the entire history of the legendary Dells as I am with many of the Motown artists and groups (being a Detroit guy), and The Impressions were always my favorite Chicago group...but Marvin Junior was certainly an iconic R&B lead singer...one of the best. As for Townsend...I always did admire his determination in creating and building his career...from his initial efforts to produce his first successful endeavor...Hollywood Shuffle, which not being able to secure funding to make the film...reportedly put most of the production costs on his American Express card, which takes HUGE cajones and the acceptance of great risk. I never knew that about his relationship with David Ruffin and the dinner at Arethas house which he mentions in this interview, yet always assumed that the template for his Five Heartbeats film was more a compilation of the entire R&B group scene of the 50's and 60's, with a heavy emphasis on The Dells, and if it in fact did take him 10 years to produce the film as he claims...then hanging for a few weeks with The Dells would become perhaps a very significant part of the film, but not the entire story. To me...the lead singer in the film did in fact more closely resembled David Ruffin than Marvin Junior both stylistically and vocal range... So I understand how these controversy's arise, as they always seem to … As for the intergroup dynamics depicted in this film...having been the music director and bandleader for at least one such typical R&B/Soul group in the 60's, I can tell you for sure that these types of situations, arguments, disagreements, changes in personnel as guys quit for a variety of reasons and other come aboard and even fights were pretty commonplace and typical when you get five guys plus management together all with different ideas, real life situations, and up to and even what songs and in what order that nights performance would include. Coincidentally, just this past week I was reminded and had this discussion with a friend and former group mate about such an incident and dust-up I was personally involved with relating to what the song order of our show would be LOL...In the final analysis...it's the filmmaker who told the story that he/she wanted to tell, and whatever influenced their creative endeavor remains largely under the purview of their artistic license...except in cases where money is involved by way of plagiarism or other financial agreements, both of which are legal, not creative issues... Just my thoughts on this...
    So Stu, are you saying that this film could have been about any group for that era?

  10. #10
    I'm saying that the film was never purported to be a biographical or biopic project and while The Dells were admittedly a significant influence in the project, there are many discrepancies and dissimilarities to the Dells, including the lead singer of the group (a most significant character) having little in common, either in appearance, vocal range and style, or stage presence, or alleged lifestyle to the great Marvin Junior (definitely a David Ruffin persona IMO)... One must take the word of the projects creators as to what they had in mind when they did the film, but it was NOT a biography of the Dells and was most certainly a compilation of many groups from back in the day. As for percentages of influence...folks can spend the next century arguing about that...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 09-01-2018 at 08:50 PM.

  11. #11
    Townsend has claimed since 1991 that the film is a compilation of several groups from that era as evidenced by this article. Why is this all of a sudden becoming an issue some 27 years later 🤔???http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...based-townsend

  12. #12
    I don't understand why heikki is so chapped. Have any of the Dells complained about Townsend not making the movie a strictly biographical film? When the movie was in the cinemas, he was saying it was based on the Dells but that doesn't mean that it was about them. I assumed that they were happy with it since they participated and provided the tracks.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    I'm saying that the film was never purported to be a biographical or biopic project and while The Dells were admittedly a significant influence in the project, there are many discrepancies and dissimilarities to the Dells, including the lead singer of the group (a most significant character) having little in common, either in appearance, vocal range and style, or stage presence, or alleged lifestyle to the great Marvin Junior (definitely a David Ruffin persona IMO)... One must take the word of the projects creators as to what they had in mind when they did the film, but it was NOT a biography of the Dells and was most certainly a compilation of many groups from back in the day. As for percentages of influence...folks can spend the next century arguing about that...
    Ok cool. I agree that the lead singer persona was not that of Marvin Junior of the Dells.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Townsend has claimed since 1991 that the film is a compilation of several groups from that era as evidenced by this article. Why is this all of a sudden becoming an issue some 27 years later ��???http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...based-townsend
    It is an issue now because the surviving members of the Dells are feeling slighted and used.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Oz View Post
    I don't understand why heikki is so chapped. Have any of the Dells complained about Townsend not making the movie a strictly biographical film? When the movie was in the cinemas, he was saying it was based on the Dells but that doesn't mean that it was about them. I assumed that they were happy with it since they participated and provided the tracks.
    Jerry it was because Robert traveled with the Dells for a period of like 6 weeks and interviewed them about their experiences along the way. Once the film came out, I distinctly remember members of the Dells commenting that the Five Heartbeats was their story. I don't know if Robert told them directly that it was about them, but some how he gave them that impression.

  16. #16
    Who wouldn't want to be immortalized in a movie especially if you are an entertainer and never really received your props from the mainstream.

  17. #17
    Townsend has consistently stated since 1991 that this film was based on a compilation of groups, not a Dells biopic...the lead singer, his main character, appears to be modeled after Ruffin. Nobody should get their panties in a bunch because a couple of songs or scenes featuring them got left on the cutting room floor...happens every day on the film industry. If they worked, the would have likely been left in...Not a producers job to give folks props. Their job to make a good film...

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Jerry it was because Robert traveled with the Dells for a period of like 6 weeks and interviewed them about their experiences along the way. Once the film came out, I distinctly remember members of the Dells commenting that the Five Heartbeats was their story. I don't know if Robert told them directly that it was about them, but some how he gave them that impression.
    I remember them saying the movie was based on them but I read it and didn't see the interviews. Perhaps the writers took it out of context, but I never once read an article suggesting that they were unhappy with it. Until this thread, I thought that they were proud of the movie and their participation in it. If for nothing else, it gave them two of their biggest hits in decades. Guess I'll be Googling this tonight to find out what I missed 20 years ago.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Oz View Post
    I remember them saying the movie was based on them but I read it and didn't see the interviews. Perhaps the writers took it out of context, but I never once read an article suggesting that they were unhappy with it. Until this thread, I thought that they were proud of the movie and their participation in it. If for nothing else, it gave them two of their biggest hits in decades. Guess I'll be Googling this tonight to find out what I missed 20 years ago.
    Oh they were very happy with the results and the attention from the film. Now, with Roberts documentary and his saying that it was about David Ruffin or something else leaves the surviving Dells feeling used and disrespected. I'm not saying that the way they feel is right, I'm just saying that if you asked Mickey and them, that is most likely what they would tell you.

  20. #20
    Gotcha. God bless 'em, I guess. But anybody can watch that movie and recognize it borrows from the lives of several artists and groups. And a few other movies, too. But they clearly were the inspiration and it's too bad that they feel disrespected because I don't think Townsend wants that. And unless heikki is one of the Dells, I still don't know what the ruckus is all about or why anybody not associated in the fan should be pissed off by proxy.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Townsend has claimed since 1991 that the film is a compilation of several groups from that era as evidenced by this article. Why is this all of a sudden becoming an issue some 27 years later 樂???http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...based-townsend
    It's because Townsend has just released a documentary, Making 'The Five Heartbeats' and is doing press about it.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Oz View Post
    Gotcha. God bless 'em, I guess. But anybody can watch that movie and recognize it borrows from the lives of several artists and groups. And a few other movies, too. But they clearly were the inspiration and it's too bad that they feel disrespected because I don't think Townsend wants that. And unless heikki is one of the Dells, I still don't know what the ruckus is all about or why anybody not associated in the fan should be pissed off by proxy.
    Oh you know how it is LOL! Seriously, we all love our music and our favorite artists. People you've listen to for so long that they have become a part of your lives if only through the music. When something happens to them we tend to side with them because they are "your favorites" or special to you because you've enjoyed their music, their artistry for a number of years.
    I completely understand. I did not like it last week the media claimed that the Eagles had the best selling album of all time and beat out Michael Jackson (luckily that was not true after all). Now with Aretha gone.......need I say more. Her music was LIFE! I don't remember when her music was not somewhere around me from the time I was a small child up to now.

  23. #23
    I also think part of the reason for the emphasis on Ruffin in this interview, in addition to his leads character being likely modeled after him was due to Arethas death and funeral coincidentally the same week and he was telling a story about sitting with Aretha at David's funeral and the ensuing dinner at Arethas home. Events converging at the same time... Once again, I have no doubt The Dells were significant influences in the story line, but not the subjects of the film, although I'm sure Townsend learned a lot about group dynamics hanging out with them, and he did, as has been pointed out, pay tribute to The Dells on several occasions...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 09-02-2018 at 02:17 AM.

  24. #24
    I mean one look at the film and you can tell that they took some liberties. I doubt Marvin Junior acted like Eddie Kane anyway. None of the Dells left the group unless it was to raise a family (original member Eddie Funches, who Johnny Carter replaced). None of them had drug problems or alcoholism (as far as we know). There WERE two brothers in the group (Lucius and Mickey McGill) but the only difference is Lucius left the group before they started to take off. There was a reason they said, "LOOSELY BASED", rather than simply based on, the Dells. I'm thinking they feel slighted because Robert mentioned Ruffin. That's about it.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    I mean one look at the film and you can tell that they took some liberties. I doubt Marvin Junior acted like Eddie Kane anyway. None of the Dells left the group unless it was to raise a family (original member Eddie Funches, who Johnny Carter replaced). None of them had drug problems or alcoholism (as far as we know). There WERE two brothers in the group (Lucius and Mickey McGill) but the only difference is Lucius left the group before they started to take off. There was a reason they said, "LOOSELY BASED", rather than simply based on, the Dells. I'm thinking they feel slighted because Robert mentioned Ruffin. That's about it.
    Fun fact: The character's name is actually Eddie King, Jr., but because of the unforgettable way Michael Wright says it ("Eddie KAAAAAAAAAAAANG!!!"), many of us received it as "Kane."


    https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com...e-j-1822522454

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Fun fact: The character's name is actually Eddie King, Jr., but because of the unforgettable way Michael Wright says it ("Eddie KAAAAAAAAAAAANG!!!"), many of us received it as "Kane."


    https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com...e-j-1822522454
    Heh yeah I knew it was King but everyone of us called him Kane.

  27. #27
    While I will concede that Eddie King Jr. seemed to be based upon David Ruffin & many of the situations DID NOT fit what we knew The Dells to have been (breakups, lead singer situation, et.al), the fact of the matter is that from "Day One", Robert has always said that the movie was based on The Dells.

    They didn't say this first, as i recall it he did & there have been more than a few videos on the internet showing him say this & have been on the internet for years.

  28. #28
    Jerry Oz, indeed one of the members of The Dells has commented on that video. I won't say who he is, but he's using the name "The Mighty Dells".

    He feels insulted.

  29. #29
    That's truly unfortunate. It seems like there are movies where a character like Eddie appears and the people that the story is based upon complain, saying that it was never like that with them. As I said before, most objective people can see that the film was based on the Dells history but that there were many elements borrowed from other groups. There hasn't been a new story in music since the '50s. If he's never disrespected them, it's sad that they feel that he is suddenly trying to minimize their role in the story.

  30. #30
    To go from "this movie was inspired by the Dells" to "actually no this movie was inspired by David Ruffin" is definitely a slap in the surviving Dells members' faces.

    The Dells had Robert travel around the R&B circuit with them, told them about their history, and some basic stuff about the Heartbeats were definitely Dells-related (them including two brothers, having two lead singers - a gruff baritone and a falsetto, surviving decades of musical change) while other scenes were far more exaggerated (the Temptations-like drama within the Heartbeats, Eddie King Jr. becoming David Ruffin, JT being the songwriter so that would make him the Smokey Robinson of the group, the sudden breakup, etc.).

    This is why I hope the Dells and the estates of the late members can expound on their history on a future Unsung. They need to hurry though since most of the members are either ill or dead.

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