Mos Def Drops Out of Thelonious Monk Biopic After Estate Denounces the Project

Monk's estate says the biopic is "totally unauthorized"

Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def, to play Thelonious Monk, photo courtesy of artist

Less than a day after word broke of a Thelonious Monk biopic starring Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def, the project has all but fallen apart. After the jazz legend’s estate denounced the film as “totally unauthorized,” Bey has dropped out of the lead role.

“Let me be clear, if the Monk Estate is not happy with it, if Mr. Monk III is not happy with it, then neither am I,” Bey said in an Instagram video posted on Thursday. “To be clear, I was given every indication by the production company that the family was on board. It was one of my primary questions.”

“This was something I was really excited about,” Bey added. “Perhaps another time under better auspices, but not right now. C’est la vie.”

In a statement to Pitchfork,  T.S. Monk —Thelonious Monk’s son and head of the Thelonious Monk Estate said the proposed film is not authorized by the estate. “This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog. There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”

Peter Lord Moreland, the producer behind the biopic, has not yet addressed the estate’s public rebuke or Bey’s departure. We’ve reached out to Moreland for comment.



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