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Biopic Based on the Life of the Late Merle Haggard in the Works

Getty Images
Getty Images

It might be a new record: exactly one week ago today, treasured singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Merle Haggard passed away at age 79 due to complications resulting from double pneumonia. Last night, after a mere six days, Deadline had the exclusive that GMH Productions has optioned Done It All, a script adapting Haggard’s life, times, and works into a biopic. Scribe Cliff Hollingsworth, the pen behind the James J. Braddock biopic Cinderella Man, drew up the screenplay with the cooperation of Haggard‘s personal friend Carl Cooper and began working on the project before Haggard’s death. Even so, the promptness here feels a bit convenient.

Merle Haggard death conspiracy theories aside, Done It All is expected to be another moving-yet-inspiring period piece with potential to earn Oscar gold for its parent studio, in the vein of the thrice-nominated Cinderella Man. Haggard was born into poverty, son to a pair of Depression casualties, and lost his father to a brain hemorrhage at age five. As children without guidance often do, he fell into a life of small-time crime and served a little time in San Quentin before getting back on the straight and narrow. He pursued a career in country music and met with little success until 1963, when fellow crooner Wynn Stewart helped turn him into a sensation with the single “Song A Sad Song,” which would be Haggard’s first hit. He came up as a counterculture figure (Haggard has copped to performing under the influence of marijuana on numerous occasions, though who hasn’t, really) and aged into a position as one of country-western music’s elder statesman.

So, best case? We get a nice, handsomely mounted tribute to a deserving musicians and a fine film in its own right. Worst case? Another rote recitation of the old music-biopic cliches, though that provides the perfect opportunity to quote Walk Hard, so it’s really a win-win.

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