BBC Films has come on board to back a feature documentary on Theodore DeReese “Teddy” Pendergrass (March 26, 1950 – January 13, 2010), the late singer–songwriter and composer, who rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade.
The project is being shopped (repped by Content Media) at the ongoing European Film Market (EFM), which kicked off yesterday in Berlin.
To be produced by Storyvault Films, Tempo Productions and Wasted Talent, the film will examining the personal and professional life, as well as the legacy of Pendergrass, who achieved international success with hits including “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” It will be directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Olivia Lichtenstein (“The Silent Twin: Without My Shadow,” “Broadmoor”), who will also produce (via her TV production company, the aforementioned Storyvault Films).
In 1982, at just 31 years old, Pendergrass was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the chest down. He subsequently founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps those with spinal cord injuries. His last performance was on a PBS special at Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino in November 2008. On June 5, 2009, Pendergrass underwent successful surgery for colon cancer and returned home to recover. A few weeks later he returned to the hospital with respiratory issues. After seven months, he died of respiratory failure on January 13, 2010, at age 59, with wife Joan by his side, while hospitalized at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His body was interred at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
There have long been plans to produce a scripted feature biopic of Pendergrass’s life, with Tyrese Gibson rumored to star, but nothing has moved on that front.
Production on “Pendergrass” is due to start in April.
One of many wonderful memories of the singer follows below: