Variety is reporting that Forest Whitaker is on board to direct and star in a biopic of jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong that is named after his signature tune, “What a Wonderful World.”
The first big screen project to be authorized by the Armstrong estate, “World” will follow the musician’s impoverished early years in New Orleans and primarily chronicle his career as a trumpet virtuoso and improvisational singer.
“Armstrong left a monumental mark on our lives and our culture,” said Whitaker, who portrayed jazz great Charlie Parker in “Bird.” “He lived an amazing life and, through his art, shifted the way music was played and would be heard after him, not just here in the U.S. but all over the world.”
Oscar Cohen, executive of the Armstrong estate and the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, began working for the musician in the late ’40s as his road manager. He’ll serve as an executive producer on the project and has granted the filmmakers exclusive access to his personal accounts as well as to letters and other material in the Armstrong archives.
“What a Wonderful World” will begin shooting in the summer in Louisiana. Whitaker’s directing credits include “Waiting to Exhale,” “Hope Floats” and “First Daughter.” He won an Oscar in 2006 for his role as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”