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I was disappointed when I found out the film wasn't about this place too. To hear that Idlewild, Ga doesn't even exist disappoints me even more. What would possess them to choose a historical name like that for a fictional movie?

Michigan's Idlewild takes issue with new film

Associated Press

For moviegoers, "Idlewild" is the title of a new film starring platinum-selling hip-hop duo OutKast. For many others, however, Idlewild is a historical landmark.

Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton, known to rap fans as "Andre 3000" and "Big Boi," respectively, star in the film, which is a musical drama set in the 1930s in Idlewild, Ga.

But, there's one thing -- Idlewild doesn't exist. At least not in Georgia.

There is an Idlewild, Mich., and some who have frequented it aren't happy because outside of the name, the movie has nothing to do with the small town in northwest Michigan.

"It's an insult," says Coy W. Davis Jr., a Grandville filmmaker who directed the historical documentary "Whatever Happened to Idlewild?"

As a child, Davis spent many summers from the 1950s through the '70s in the Lake County town where his family owned a cottage.

"They take something with such historical significance as Idlewild, take the peripheral aspects of it, and turn it into a shoot-'em-up, bang-bang minstrel show," he recently told the Grand Rapids Press. "It demeans me as an African American.

"I understand it's just entertainment," Davis adds. "But call it 'Mishawaka,' call it 'Schenectady.' Don't call it 'Idlewild.' "

Idlewild, Mich., about 60 miles south of Traverse City, was a haven for black entertainment during the segregation era. Its rich, storied history is remembered mostly in glowing nostalgic terms. It was a place where black professionals from all over the Midwest vacationed and saw performances by legendary entertainers such as Louis Armstrong and B.B. King.

According to Ronald J. Stephens, a Detroit native and author of "Idlewild: The Black Eden of Michigan," the movie draws a few parallels to the real Idlewild, but nothing more.

"Its biggest asset is it puts the name in the public's imagination in ways the small town of Idlewild, Mich., couldn't do," Stephens says.

John Meeks, owner of the Morton Motel in Idlewild and the self-proclaimed "unpaid, unofficial Idlewild ambassador," says prospective filmmakers have been sniffing around the town for years, but the makers of "Idlewild" never came by.

"A lot of people are disappointed when they find out it isn't about Idlewild at all," he says. "It's unfortunate that the name is being exploited, that it has no connection to the history of one of the most famous black resorts."

The film, which opened nationally Friday, co-stars Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson, Ving Rhames and Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard, along with musicians Macy Gray and Patti LaBelle.



Yeah, so if you don't know what Idlewild is and you actually give a shit then check these out:



( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 28th, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)

idlewild is also the name of jfk airport before 1963.

maybe that's where they got the name as well.
Aug. 28th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm sure.......................
Aug. 28th, 2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
see, not having seen the movie, but having seen the posters....

i thought it was some postwar cotton-club like flick.

(idlewild airport opened in 1946 or something like that, right after the war.)

didn't know about this place in michigan.

Aug. 28th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
It's too bad that there aren't more movies that draw from history....then people wouldn't feel so bad when some liberties are taken with it.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 28th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, glad you understand.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 28th, 2006 01:15 pm (UTC)
i was shitty when i found out dude didn't really exist in the whole rosewood thing.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 28th, 2006 01:27 pm (UTC)
What do you mean by flippy?

This is just a story that came through on my watch that I felt blackfolk might like to know about. I do have personal feelings about it because I have known about and visited the real Idlewild long before this movie came about.

I always thought there was another Idlewild that this movie was depicting because the storyline sounds nothing like the Idlewild I was told about (other than being a black gathering out in the middle of nowhere).

Idlewild isn't exactly a name you'd just pull out of your ass... so I have a hard time believing that the naming of this movie was coincidental. Even if it were coincidental, I'm sure they were aware of the conflict well before the point of no return.

As for you not feeling the same way I do... do what you do, it is what it is, etc., etc. Just because it's been done before doesn't mean that I should just ignore it when it happens again.
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
Idlewild isn't exactly a name you'd just pull out of your ass...

Well it certainly isn't rare. It's the name of a band, too.

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Aug. 28th, 2006 02:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah---the thing with Angel Davenport and Macy Gray's character was really uncomfortable. I'm disappointed that they didn't even try to make her a better drawn character.
Aug. 28th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
What would possess them to choose a historical name like that for a fictional movie?

Why wouldn't they? Perhaps they heard about the real Idlewild, got to thinking about what it would be like if such a cultural center existed in GA (these guys have been reppin ATL from day one, so we really couldn't expect them to set their movie anywhere else) and ran with it from there. Should they have changed the name? Perhaps. But if they did, this wouldn't be a topic of conversation and I, for one, would still have no idea that Idlewild, MI ever existed. Maybe it will open some doors and the historical account will be told to a much wider audience now (whether tv or film).

Aug. 28th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC)
If they knew that Idlewild, Mi existed, then that makes it even worse, IMO. That'd be like Spike Lee making a lighthearted western named "Rosewood".
Aug. 28th, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC)
Idlewild, MI is that historically significant? That's hard to believe.
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
I guess there is not much more to say in this conversation until you read up on it.
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
Ok, just so I get this straight:

The massacre of a town = a vacation mecca (which is a summation from the Idlewild chamber of commerce website) in terms of historical significance?


They're rappers. They made a movie about a juke joint. They happened to name it the same name as another town. That town was once a place where black people thrived. But Outkast didn't owe the town anything when they named the movie that. And I really don't think we should have such high expectations, especially when we look at the cinematic stories other rappers are telling.
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
LMAO, you're right. You shouldn't expect much from the world of cinema, no wonder we don't get much.
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Aug. 28th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC)
Nod, they should be like "seen the film? Now see the real Idlewild- former black mecca" It'd be great.
Aug. 28th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah---that's the kind of PR slogan you'd have to pay out the ass for.
Aug. 28th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
you'd THINK some smart black person in the real Idlewild would go, "Free Publicity!" and run with it. But, no, let us undermine an all black film production because it doesn't jive with the creative sensibilities of a town that,

Good point. In the final analysis bitching about it is a waste of energies.

If someone who's interested in telling the story of the Real Idelwild can come up on some funding, they should make a doc, capture the publicity this film has provided them, and call it a day.

Aug. 28th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
Up the street (in the 'burbs) there's an Idlewild church (Tony Dungy's son's funeral was held there), school, neighborhood, and travelling across the state (FL) I've had multiple Idlewild sightings.

I'd never heard of the place (Idlewild, MI) though this movie did inspire a half-assed inspiration to find out about real places with a similar vibe outside of Harlem, but I don't understand how they can get so snippy over a fictional film (I mean, the soundtrack is basically Speakerboxx/The Love Below!)

Aug. 28th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
The massacre of a town = a vacation mecca (which is a summation from the Idlewild chamber of commerce website) in terms of historical significance?

Both you and him misinterpreted me. I did not compare events.

Idlewild is a resort town that thrived for half a century because Jim Crow laws didn't allow black people to visit mainstream resorts. If that isn't historically significant then I don't know what the hell is...
Aug. 29th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, it is. And I never doubted it. I was questioning the level of historical significance, at which point you pointed to Rosewood, thereby indicating a comparison.
Aug. 29th, 2006 02:01 pm (UTC)
I was questioning the level of historical significance, at which point you pointed to Rosewood, thereby indicating a comparison.

Nah, I was doing an analogy of the naming, not the events.
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
You DO know about Idlewild. Just think back. ;)
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
My bad. I didn't know of its existence in that context.
Aug. 28th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
you know I always thought it was a word. :/ guess not [maybe still, a combo of 2 words..]
Aug. 28th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
I really think it's that vague memory of JFK airport we have... Like maybe we've seen it here and there in an old news report or from our grandparents, so it sounds vaguely familiar.
Aug. 28th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
omg, your icon almost caused me to throw my laptop across the room!!!!

Aug. 28th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
whoops sorry about that. I have roaches.
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
I have roaches.

As pets or as pests?
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
Re: ...
As in major pests. New apartment.
Bug dude came by today to nuke em.
Aug. 28th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: ...
EWWW!!! You poor thing...
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
Which makes it even more irresponsible.
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
Interesting--thanks for link.
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
While putting the name on the map is certainly a good thing, it would have been more interesting and significant to have told the story of the real Idlewild.
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Aug. 28th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
It's called simply having an opinion.

I'm not upset about what they did make, I'd just be more interested and think it would have been more significant if it would have breathed life into that piece of history; especially if they're going to reference it.
Aug. 28th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
I dunno. It just doesn't bother me that a movie that's not being billed as a documentary would be based in a made up city.
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)
I think what's also problematic is that these movies are so hard to get made in the first place. It shouldn't be such a struggle to tell and market these stories---but there you go.

As Benjamin (alias Andre 3000) explains, the group has been trying to get a movie off the ground ever since their 1998 album, "Aquemini." The pair was always coming up with elaborate visual concepts in tandem with their longtime video director, Bryan Barber. But they were naive about how long it would take to film such a project, let alone how hard it would to coordinate it with an album release.

Years ago, the group went to MTV to ask for financing. The channel liked the notion of an OutKast flick but, for the lead actors, they wanted to cast rappers who were better known at the time. The guys balked.

Then they shopped the movie idea to conventional Hollywood studios. But executives shot down the `30s setting, suggesting a stereotypical shoot-`em-up exploitation scenario instead. Again, the group said no way. Finally, in 2004, OutKast's management approached HBO Films about doing a TV flick with the guys playing `30s musicians. HBO liked Barber's script, so they gave them the green light, albeit with a pixie-sized budget.

OutKast had always hoped their flick would end up as more than a TV release. "We knew the history of HBO. So we knew if we made a really good movie, like `American Splendor,' they'll put it in theaters," Benjamin says. "That was our goal."

HBO played along, eventually upping the budget to top $25 million - paltry by some standards, but way bigger than the group started with.

The filming took place in nervous fits and starts over a long period, snaking back to July of 2004. Along the way, the group faced plenty of resistance. "It's a musical, for one," Benjamin explains "It's a black musical, for another. Then there's a first-time director (Barber). And even though Big Boi and I acted in some films before, we were kinda new on the scene. Everything was up against us."

Worse, when the movie started shooting, the group had only a few songs written. Benjamin says they felt they needed to work on the fly since "if we kept pushing it back, people might not be so excited about the movie anymore. This was our chance."

Once they finally completed the flick, they hawked it to Universal Pictures for distribution. Now, they're concerned about how the company will market it. "I just hope they don't pigeonhole it as an urban movie just because it stars black actors," Benjamin says.

Aug. 29th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Nice link. Makes me appreciate the film all the more.
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
I think it would be good if someone made a for-t.v. or dvd release documentary about the real Idelwild to tell that untold story and play off the notoriety that that the movie has brought to it. I think that would really satisfy the issue.

Also if when the Outkast's film is released on dvd, if it had a 15/20 minute extra about the real Idelwild, that would be great. That would really go a long way towards driving the real story home.
Aug. 28th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
Good call on the DVD extra... that way other Idlewild-ignorant folks can get enlightened.

Just with how "Andre 3000" this movie is, it never even crossed my mind that this would be based on anything but whimsy and suspenders.
Aug. 29th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
yup. now im not going to see the movie becuase it's "historically innacurate". i wish it were as historically accurate as World Trade Centre or something...that would be...yeah.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )



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