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Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
Published: 27 May 2009

(NNPA) - DreamWorks' plan to film a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic may be stalled if the civil rights icon's children can't work out their differences, according to Eurweb.com.

Bernice King and Martin Luther King III are threatening legal action against their brother Dexter, the overseer of their father's estate, for signing off on the DreamWorks deal without their involvement in the negotiations.

The studio said May 20 that it still wants to make a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. ''provided that there is unity'' among his kids.

''The purpose of making a movie about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is to tell a great story which could bridge distances and bring people together,'' read the statement provided to The Associated Press by DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan. ''We remain committed to pursuing a film chronicling Martin Luther King's life provided that there is unity in the family so we can make a film about unity in our nation. We believe this is what Dr. King would have wanted.''

The studio touted the project as the first big-screen portrayal of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner that would be authorized by the estate and use King's intellectual property, including copyrighted speeches and other works, as the basis for the film. Steven Spielberg was listed as a co-producer.

''I sincerely believe that the film project we have been working on with DreamWorks ... offers an unprecedented opportunity for educating the largest possible audience about our father's legacy as the leader of America's greatest nonviolent movement,'' Dexter King said in a statement.

''I sincerely hope my brother and sister will join us in supporting this urgently needed project,'' he said.

He said although his communication with family members has ''been somewhat stymied by the current litigation,'' he continues to reach out to them.

Bernice King and King III have accused their brother of tarnishing their parents' legacy with his business decisions, and say he has been operating The King Estate for years without their input.

In March, Dexter King brokered a deal with EMI Music Publishing for his father's words and image. Last month, his siblings took issue with an $800,000 licensing deal their brother struck with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation, which is building a monument to King on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The siblings still haven't settled three lawsuits involving their parents' estates, including one attempting to force Dexter King to open the books of The King Estate. Another would determine who should control Coretta Scott King's personal items — some of which were at the center of a $1.4 million book deal about their mother's life that fell apart last year.

Information from Eurweb.com and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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