'Get On Up' Gets James Brown's Manager Wrong
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the new Brown biopic.
In a poignant scene in Get On Up, James Brown is shown shoveling dirt on his manager Ben Bart's coffin. It’s a touching, rare moment in which Brown is shown caring for someone other than himself. Unfortunately, according to Bart’s son Jack, it’s not true — and the Godfather of Soul wasn’t even at the funeral in question.
That's just one of many alleged inaccuracies in the film, Jack Bart and Jeff Allen -- who now runs the elder Bart’s old agency Universal Attractions -- tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Allen says that the film inaccurately suggests that Brown took the lead in making business decisions, including changing the way his concerts were promoted.
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"The truth is … that was Ben’s idea and Ben’s expertise because he started as a club owner and a concert promoter," Allen says. "So where they portray Ben as kind of following James Brown’s lead, it was the other way around. Everything that Brown knew or learned or accomplished was through Ben Bart’s tutelage." Bart’s support for his talented client isn’t accurately portrayed, making it seem "as if Brown gave Ben a free ride," Allen adds.
Get On Up also diminishes the elder Bart’s role in Brown’s discovery, Bart’s son says. The film suggests that producer/talent scout Ralph Bass discovered Brown, something the younger Bart calls "totally inaccurate."
In reality, Jack Bart says his father got a call from a club owner in Atlanta who told him, "There’s a young fellow down here by the name of James Brown that is a great dancer and … he’s got a lot of potential. You should come down and take a look at him."
Ben Bart then flew to Atlanta, saw Brown and signed him. "That’s how James Brown was discovered," Jack Bart says. By way of comparison, the movie doesn’t even introduce the character of Ben Bart until he meets with James Brown later in his career and urges him to go solo.
To be fair, Bass has been credited by many for discovering Brown, with even the late musician noting in his autobiography that Bass signed him and his then band the Famous Flames before Bart came on board.
Bart’s son and Allen claim they were never contacted by anyone affiliated with the production, meaning Dan Aykroyd's portrayal of the elder Bart may be due to a lack of information.
There are some parts of the film that ring true, Jack Bart says…