Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson has tweeted that he will portray the late and legendary singer Teddy Pendergrass. "I have officially secured the life rights to the life story of Teddy Pendergrass, my inspiration," announced Gibson. "This movie will be made."
Pendergrass shot to fame as the lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in the mid-1970s. The Philadelphia-born Pendergrass later went solo and became one of most electric and iconic singers to emerge in the R&B and disco era. Pendergrass' famous baritone vocals on tracks such as "The Love I Lost", "Bad Luck" and the brilliant cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way" defined Black gay dance music in the 1970s and 1980s.
Openly gay and Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels should direct the bio-pic, Gibson told IndieWire. "He’s from Philadelphia and he’s raw, knows how to tell the truth about characters and layers," said Gibson. "He knows how to get people to go there. That would be my ideal situation. Lee Daniels would hit it out of the park. It’ll be my first time singing in a movie."
Especially interesting would be how the film would depict Pendergrass' life-altering 1982 car accident. Pendergrass crashed his Rolls-Royce and was left paralyzed from the waist down. The passenger in the car crash, Tenika Watson, was relatively unhurt. Watson turned out to be a well-known Philadelphia transgender nightclub performer. Pendergrass would only say that Watson was a "casual acquaintance" whom he was giving a ride home. Pendergrass repeatedly refused to discuss the circumstances of the accident beyond that.
In the spring of 2008, Chicago's Black Ensemble Theater debuted "I Am Who I Am: The Story of Teddy Pendergrass". The last half of the play concentrated on the accident, Teddy's post-accident career and questions about his sexuality. Speaking to a reporter at the Chicago Free Press, the LGBT weekly, Pendergrass refused to discuss the accident and claimed he was unaware of music's impact on the gay community. Said Pendergrass: "My music appeals to everybody. No, I don’t keep a running list of who listens and who doesn’t. That’s not my job."