Country singer Glenn Campbell's known for a lot of things — True Grit, literally calling himself "Rhinestone Cowboy", playing in The Beach Boys on the DL, his comeback album Ghost on The Canvas which featured a Guided by Voices cover — but once he went public with his Alzheimer's diagnosis, his public tours have taken on a more poignant meaning. I reviewed one of these shows at Carnegie Hall, and found it a remarkable experience: given the severity of his most recent albums, and the diagnosis, I was expecting something stark and sad. I got the exact opposite, a cheery old man only too happy to make boner jokes on stage and play the old hits. There were a couple signs of the disease, which was surprising: you'd think an artist would only be willing to take the stage with complete control of their own facilities. Campbell missed a few cues, struggled a bit to find the microphone, and then rocked the house. To see someone be that open with a disability as sever as Alzheimer's was liberating.
Turns out I'm not the only one who felt that way! Campbell has been involved with a documentary about the experience, and it's called I'll Be There, and it's already been booked for festivals. It features both Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift, and will probably be pretty moving! The first part of the trailer features some weird musical choices better suited for Statham movies, but once it gets to the good stuff, and the interview with The Edge, it's easy to see that it will be an optimistic and important look into the day-to-day of a disease that's often pushed to the shadows. However, it's hitting a tough legal snag: a lawsuit by a company obnoxiously titled the Record Company, complete with undercase t, about Campbell's connection with the film's director. Via The Hollywood Reporter,
The Record Company is a production house claiming the film violates an agreement it made in June 2011 to develop a project about the country music icon with him and Keach, whose credits include producing the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. In a complaint filed against Campbell on Monday, the studio alleges it was "excluded from participating in the documentary in every way" despite its "exclusive" agreement with Campbell.
The point of contention is Keach's involvement. A copy of the 2011 agreement attached to the Record Company's filing specifies that the studio had the exclusive right to develop a "project involving producer/director James Keach, featuring and/or based on" Campbell. Further, even beyond the term of the deal, "if there is any later development of the project or other media venture involving James Keach in any way, then our rights to participate in the project or other such venture are revived."
One's got to feel a bit sorry for tRC, hopefully they're already aware of the horrible PR that would fall upon anyone suing a musical legend struck with a debilitating disease. This is one that will probably get settled the way most things in Hollywood do, out-of-court mediation. If they actively stop the film from being shown, they'll have moved beyond typical high stakes tic-for-tac into real pieces of shit.