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It’s been almost three decades since “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” — a novelty dance track featuring rapid, part-rapped, part-scatted and mostly nonsensical rhymes — shot to the top of music charts around the world, especially in Europe. Now, the man behind the song is getting the biopic treatment.
John Larkin — better known by his stage name Scatman John — passed away from cancer in 1999 at the age of 57 — just five years after his most famous track was first released. But international production banner Trick Candle Productions has acquired the rights to his life story and is developing Scatman, set to chronicle the musician’s “wild life and positive influence.”
Written by Stephen Basilone (Community, The Goldbergs) and Annie Mebane (The Goldbergs, Shrinking), the film — which will include unparalleled access to the entire Scatman music library, as well as private home videos — will detail Larkin’s struggles with being a lifelong stutterer, bullying, abuse at home and his battles with drug addiction and alcoholism. However, after meeting the love of his life in rehab, he conquered his addictions and became an overnight sensation as Scatman John at the age of 53, selling millions of CDs, garnering 14 gold records and 18 platinum records. A generation on, his songs are still being sampled by DJs and artists, while his videos have reached more than 164 million views on YouTube alone.
Tom Malloy (Lansky, Ask Me to Dance), founder of Trick Candle Productions, and Steve Valentine (MonsterHigh, The Walk) brokered the deal with Lee Newman, Larkin’s stepson, who handles the estate.
“Today, more than ever, John’s message resonates and needs to be heard,” said Valentine. “He was a true legend, tearing down barriers that would have deterred many from attempting to accomplish their dreams. We are excited to work on this project with Lee, and are honored to be bringing Scatman John’s story to the big screen.”
Manfred Zahringer, Scatman John’s manager, along with Malloy, Valentine and Newman, will also serve as producers on the film.
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