1 October 2009 3:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

When Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider said in May that DreamWorks planned to make a biopic on Martin Luther King Jr., it took less than 24 hours for the project to hit a speed bump.

Two of King's children disputed a third's authority to speak for the estate, and soon enough King's own words came to mind: "All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem."

Granted, putting someone's life story on film hardly compares to the struggle for civil rights. But the biographical movie is a uniquely frustrating beast. Discovering a fascinating life story is the easy part, but acquiring the appropriate life/film/art/music rights, appeasing relatives' and audiences' expectations, persuading financiers to ante up and actually making money on the project can be as arduous a task as universal equality.

This is why, despite their undeniable magnetism at awards time, »


- By Jay A. Fernandez

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