Loose Lips

Marion Barry Wants to Release a Biopic About His Life Before HBO Does

Heads up, Tinseltown: Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry is looking for someone to tell his story in celluloid. The mayor-for-life told LL earlier this week that he's in a race against time to get a film about his life made.

Dedicated Barry watchers will remember that HBO Films is already working on a Barry biopic. Unhappy about how he thinks he'll be portrayed in the HBO movie, Barry says he wants someone else to release a film version more to his liking first.

“At one point I was trying to kill it," Barry says  of the HBO movie. "But I’m going another route now, because I'm going to sell my movie rights in the next two or three months."

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.

"I told him right then and there, you're on the wrong track," Barry says. "You're going to sensationalize something that's serious."

(What kind of account of the Vista arrest would Barry approve of? Look no further than his upcoming autobiography, which calls it "the night of embarrassment.")

Barry's schedule might not suggest much time for frenzied filmmaking, with the councilmember headed up to New York City in June to promote his book. But HBO doesn't seem to be in a rush, either. Two-and-a-half years after it was first reported, the project is still in development, according to an HBO rep.

Still, HBO has one advantage over Barry: It's already found a screenwriter. According to the HBO rep, District noir novelist George Pelecanos, who's also written episodes of The Wire and Treme, has joined the biopic's screenwriting team.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery


  1. Sebastian Townview

    No matter who makes the film, the question remains - who will play Marion Barry? I think a bunch of actors might be interested. He's a big character.

  2. #2

    Listen, Barry absolutely had it coming and he was living a destructive lifestyle. But if you actually read what went down that night at the Vista, it's hard not to feel that he wasn't at least a little entrapped. He repeatedly says he wants to leave without smoking, etc. Again, he definitely had it coming, but to focus primarily on that night itself isn't really fair to the man.

  3. #3

    There is SOO much about Marion Barry's life that a film about him would be a great story.
    Do you know he was an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts?
    Do you know he has a Masters degree in ORGANIC CHEMISTRY from the Fisk University?
    Do you know he was an active participant in the NAACP and SNCC in Mississippi in the 1960's? That took MAJOR BALLS.
    Do you know he was the first elected at-large DC City Councilman in 1974?
    Do you remember he was held hostage and SHOT IN THE CHEST by Hanafi Muslims who took over the District Building in 1977?
    Do you know he was Mayor of DC from 1979 - 1991, then again from 1995 - 2001?

    Forget the phony in the commercial proclaiming he's the "Most Interesting Man in the World". I proclaim Marion Barry is the most interesting man in the United States.

    Hopefully HBO does his story justice.

  4. #4

    @Typical DC BS

    Do you know he raped a woman during a trip to the Virgin Islands?

  5. #5

    What happened to the webseries "Mayor For Life" from a few years ago? It was very promising, but all of the episodes appear to have been scrubbed from the internet.

  6. #6

    who gives a fuck Barry is still the King Fish. Fuck all you crackers!! Just Give Black People Reperation!! Let's talk about that. Now all white people got quiet. smdh white bitches!!

  7. #7

    Oh and what about that white racist dog out in L.A. Clipper!! let's talk about that. Enough of the i'm not racist talk, if you're not racist support what's right Reperations Now! After 300 years of slavery it's no way any white person can say they didn't benefit. Nowithstanding, the current racists everywhere you go from the bank to church to the basketball game. REPERATIONS NOW FOR ALL BLACK PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DECENT PERIOD!!

  8. Sho me the money

    perhaps with a good rights deal he will finally be able to pay off his tax bills....

  9. ward 1 resident

    Didn't HBO already produce a Marion Barry Documentary in 2009 (The Nine Lives of Marion Barry)?

  10. #10

    @Bargain - that was alleged to have happened (i.e. raping a woman in the Virgin Islands). Of course, we all know Marion Barry had his dark side, no doubt about that.

    If anything, it makes him even more interesting.

  11. #11

    I like cheese and crackers. mmmm good.

  12. #12

    "Williams Gary",

    Only in your mind.

    In actual life, Barry is a crack riddled alcoholic with one functioning (but failing)kidney, felon racist who repeatedly embarrased and cheated on the only woman who loved him.

    He is an embarrasing father, a decade long tax cheat, a multi-DUI repeater who has spent more time in a court room the past decade than he has the Council Chamber.

    He directs city contracts to girlfriends, then takes a piece for himself, then again...thats all the illiterate and unemployed of Ward 8 want out of their Councilman.

    I laugh every every time I see that ghetto crack head in the news, and thankfully soon, the City he nearly detroyed will be rid of him forever.

  13. #13

    @ Dom

    I checked in on the Barry reality show about 2 years ago (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2012/08/29/creator-cagey-about-fate-of-marion-barry-reality-show/). The people who produced it said something would still happen with it, but two years later, that seems even less likely. After I wrote the post, the episodes went offline.

  14. #14

    All I ask is this: when this guy kicks the bucket, and I hope that is sooner rather than later, please refrain from any glorifying spectacle such as when chuck brown died.

    Meanwhile, good dedicated people of DC who live their lives in proper service us all are overlooked and forgotten, and these morons are celebrated.

    Obey me or I'll make you sleep in the rental car.

  15. #15

    reparation for what? are you fer real? i wasn't born when slavery existed and will ever ever take the blame for it, grow up and shut up a haters, And fuck you gary williams, whatever your real name is. No slaves in DC so shut yer piehole and get a job

  16. #16

    Who should play him? Danny Glover. Young(er) Barry: Anthony Mackie, mostly because of his southern roots.

  17. #17

    Marion Barry is a tragedy. Yes, he started out a well-educated Black man. Unfortunately he got caught up politics and its corruptive air and became corrupted himself.
    As far as the Vista Hotel business is concerned, it did show a bad side of Barry but it also showed a bad side of FBI: coercing the woman who lured him there because she was under indictment and showing the world what he was doing as a way of getting rid of him. The world wasn't impressed with him--they had seen worse. So much for that. Anyway Barry needs to retire as he has stayed too long at the fair.

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  1. Pastor Mikes Report | Marion Barry Blasts HBO’s Take on His Life, Mentions Race of Film’s Consultants

    [...] contends the writers are set on sensationalizing the harder moments from his past, like the time he was arrested for smoking [...]

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