Movie, concerts highlight busy stretch for Allman

pramati@macon.comJanuary 9, 2014 

Books Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman is an executive producer of “Midnight Rider,” a film based on his autobiography “My Cross to Bear.”

GERALD HERBERT — AP

It’s a busy time for Gregg Allman on stage and on screen.

This week, the production company filming a biopic of Allman’s life called “Midnight Rider,” based on his best-selling autobiography “My Cross to Bear,” announced that Academy Award winner William Hurt has signed on to play the older version of Allman in the movie.

Michael Lehman, Allman’s manager, said principal photography is set to begin next month in Savannah.

“Gregg is so excited,” said Lehman, who will serve as an executive producer on the movie along with Allman. “We’ve got such a great cast on board. ... He and William have been in close contact.”

Randall Miller, whose career Hurt helped launch, will direct the movie, which Miller co-wrote with Jody Savin, according to a news release.

Hurt won a Best Actor Oscar in 1986 for “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and he has been nominated three other times.

Singer Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects band will play the younger version of Allman, while actor Wyatt Russell will portray the late Duane Allman, his brother and the guitarist for The Allman Brothers Band. The movie will cover the early years and success of the band as well as Allman’s struggles with drug addiction.

Lehman and production company spokeswoman Nadine Jolson said they expect some filming to be done in Macon, but they didn’t know of a shooting schedule. The movie will be filmed from February to April, and producers hope to release it either by the end of the year or early 2015.

Lehman said figures from Macon who were key parts of The Allman Brothers Band’s early years, such as Chank Middleton, Allman’s longtime friend and personal assistant, and H&H Restaurant co-owner “Mama Louise” Hudson, will be portrayed by actors in the movie.

Lehman said he hopes “Midnight Rider” will follow the recent tradition of critically acclaimed movies based on musicians, including “Walk The Line,” “Ray” and “Crazy Heart.”

Meanwhile, Allman has been preparing for a Friday night show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in his honor, featuring an all-star lineup of musicians, including Trace Adkins, Natalie Cole, Vince Gill, Dr. John and Widespread Panic.

Allman also is set to perform Tuesday at a sold-out show at the Grand Opera House in Macon. What makes this show special, Lehman said, is that a crew will film the concert, which will later be sold as a live CD and DVD concert film. In addition, the film crew will shoot parts of Macon that will be included on the DVD.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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