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Yasiin Bey Steps Back From Thelonious Monk Biopic After Estate’s Disapproval

Yasiin Bey has stepped back from his role portraying Thelonious Monk in an upcoming biopic after the jazz legend’s estate issued a statement to “condemn” the unauthorized film.

Yesterday, it was reported that Yasiin Bey, the man formerly known as Mos Def, was set to star in Thelonious, a new movie about the life of jazz legend Thelonious Monk. This would’ve been Bey’s first film role in years. It won’t happen. Today, Bey has announced that he won’t move forward with the movie without the approval of Monk’s family.

Yesterday, after the news that Bey would star in Thelonious came out, Thelonious Monk’s son TS Monk spoke to Pitchfork, saying that Monk’s estate had not approved the film: “This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog. There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”

In response, Yasiin Bey posted a four-minute Instagram video, claiming that he’d been told that the Monk family approved the film: “To be clear, I was given every indication by the production company that the family was on board. It was one of my primary questions — just as important as the music, if not more important, that the family supported the project. I took them at their word, and clearly, that wasn’t the case.”

Bey says that he’s “super-excited, still, if there’s an opportunity to tell this type of story in the right way, and only with the estate’s approval and full involvement and acceptance… Perhaps another time, under better auspices, but not right now.” Here’s Bey’s video:

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