Suffice it to Say – CM Marion Barry is Pissed at NBC’s Tom Sherwood

A lotta action on former Mayor and current Council Member Marion Barry’s twitter page starting around 9:45 and concluding around 10 this morning:

“It’s really sad that @HBO solicits two white men to write a story about my life, profit therefrom, and has not talked to me once.

@tomsherwood has made a career riding me, and now is working with @HBO & George Pelocanos to further exploit my life. Disgusted.

I’m appalled at HBO, @tomsherwood and Pelocanos. As for you Tom, please don’t ever call me again for anything.You’ve coopted my life enough.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself @tomsherwood. How does it feel to profit off of my life? Off of my service? My struggles?

Does it feel good @tomsherwood to write about my life, to profit from my life? Just because u are asked doesn’t not make it right. #Coopt

Just so u know @hbo, @tomsherwood, U don’t know the half of my life.But u don’t care u just want 2 exploit another man’s life 4 ur own gain

Really @Tomsherwood do think u even know me or my history to TRY to write about MY life? Typical. The lion always wants to tell the story.

Hide behind your contract with @hbo @tomsherwood. But u cannot hide from me your arrogance & exploitation & disrespect.

Some white people really do think they should tell the history of black experiences. Sad paternalists. We can speak for ourselves.”

Ed. Note: The Hollywood Reporter reports:

“HBO Films is developing an untitled television biopic centered on former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, whom [Eddie] Murphy would play should the project move forward.

Journalists Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood have been tapped to consult, along with The Nine Lives of Marion Barry filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer. Jaffe and Sherwood penned a book published in 1994 entitled Dream City detailing politics in D.C.”

Washington CityPaper reports:

“Barry says he turned against the HBO project after having dinner with John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave who was attached to the project with Spike Lee as the director. Barry says he was unhappy with how Ridley planned to portray his arrest at the Vista Hotel for smoking crack.”

CityPaper also notes George Pelecanos will be on the screenwriting team.

33 Comment

  • I understand why Barry would be pissed off. If I was in his shoes, I would be pissed off as well.
    That said, this is one of the risks you take when you put yourself in the public spotlight. People talk and write about you, without your permission. You don’t control the narrative – that’s the price of fame.

  • well, the racist rhetoric is obviously an issue. however, unauthorized biographies are in my opinion distasteful. especially when the subject is still alive…

    • Why distasteful? I would think authorized biographies would be controlled too much by the subject or the person writing it would be too enamored of the subject to be truly objective.

      • There is a happy medium here. The subject is still living, so a consultation seems obvious. To not even get their opinion seems like a waste (even if that opinion is extremely subjective and not fit for the biopic).

  • So, Barry, which is it? You claim the writers haven’t met with you once in your tweet, but then admit in the City Paper article that you met the chief screenwriter, John Ridley, for dinner, and refused further cooperation because you didn’t like how they were going to portray your crack bust.

    • Please forgive the inconsistencies. It can be very difficult to navigate through life when your brain is riddled with holes from smoking crack.

  • I can’t wait to see this movie.

  • What a charming racist rant at the end by Barry. He becomes an even bigger loser every time he opens his mouth.

  • Poor old Marion Barry! If he were white and such a racist, well…just ask Donald Sterling.

    By the way, “Mr. Mayor for Life,” his name is spelled GEORGE PELECANOS.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Does Marion Barry not understand how being a public figure works? Is he senile?

  • Once a Crackhead always a…

  • Yeah, white people only get to write about other white people. It is rules.

  • I think it is true that Sherwood does not know the half of Barry’s life, but my guess is that he does know the interesting half.

    • Have you read Dream City? The depiction of Barry is definitely multidimensional. Sherwood delves into the many positives and many negatives of Barry’s life and provides a sympathetic view of the FBI bust. I came away from the book feeling that Barry was a very intelligent and very complex person.

  • KSB

    I gained a lot of perspective on him after watching The Nine Lives of Marion Barry – he had a lot of promise and was a great advocate for his constituents back in the day. This Barry we know now has a sliver of that left but still hasn’t figured out that working collaboratively on this project would have benefited him much more than a weird series of tweets.

  • What’s really sad is that we keep electing this horrible bigot / racist who hates everyone but straight black people. Remember how much he hates those “dirty asians” opening stores in Anacostia or those “filthy filipino nurses” taking all the jobs at our hospitals? Or that he and Alexander were the only two people on the City Council to vote against marriage equality back in 2009? Or his hatred of all white people, which you could publish a novel of examples about?
    It’s so disappointing that we keep bringing such a bigot back to office year after year after year. Really makes me sad. I hope HBO portrays him honestly and is factually accurate about all of the horrible, awful things he has said and done so people can see the real disaster that he is as a person and as a legislator.

    • It is not okay to trash or insult other races just because you are black and have been discriminated against. I dare ask the question what would the reaction be if he were Arabic, White, Asian, etc…?

  • Leave it to Marion Barry to make it about race once again. Always the victim and all other people besides straight blacks are out to tarnish his stellar record. Once again set up by the man.

  • Last I checked, John Ridley was black

  • If you don’t like the facts attack the messenger.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Sounds like a Dream Team to me. I’m familiar with Sherwood, but not his book. I’ve read Pelecanos and love the way him makes the DC area a character in his work. Read “In the Night Garden” for an example.

  • LOL what? If he had ranted about the movie being unauthorized, that’s one thing. But to rant about white people when the chief screenwriter AND director are black? He’s such a buffoon.

  • The last toothless snarl of a diseased old lion. George Pelecanos is the THE MAN. From iconic street novels read across the world, to scripting the Wire and Treme. Nuff said. Tom Sherwood is and has been one of the few credible veteran journalists covering local DC politics. So sorry, Marion. Yet I’ve always thought a far more interesting movie would be Barry and Dick Cheney together. Think about it: they are opposite sides of the same rusty, old tetanus-carrying coin. One, hopefully, which is now settling the coldest muck at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Yet the true believers for whom these assholes are metaphors just keep wanting to polish this damn thing and stick it in our eyeballs…

  • Try reading all those angry tweets with an Eddie-Murphy-as-Donkey-from-Shrek inflection. Your day will get better.

  • I can see Barry’s point of view. His story – and the city’s – is complicated and I too would worry about being a caricature. The crack bust/setup sticks in people’s minds for obvious reasons but Barry should also be known for sticking up for poor blacks at a time when few people did, and turning them into a potent political force. Yes, the man is riddled with personal problems and the city, particularly and ironically poor blacks, suffered considerably under his tenure, but being mayor of DC in the 80’s was a losing proposition. Could someone have done a better job? Probably, but the reality is that Barry got us through those dark days.

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