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“Brother’s Keeper” – The Reel Story of Rick James

If there was ever a rock star that would make for an outrageous film character, it would have to be Rick James. The legendary Buffalo rocker, who lived his life to the fullest extreme, will finally be memorialized in TV-series-format, thanks to the efforts of Award-winning filmmaker, Addison Henderson (Night Owl Republic Films), in association with internationally acclaimed painter and attorney LeRoi C. Johnson, who will be teaming up with Emmy-nominated writer/producer Matt Fleckenstein and Buffalo Studios.

One of the best parts about this episodic project, currently titled Brother’s Keeper, is the firsthand accounts that will be provided by LeRoi C. Johnson, who is Rick’s brother. Johnson was also Rick’s “former manager, lawyer, and lifetime confidant,” which will provide an insight into the prolific musician’s life… and the notorious incidents and antics that led to so many drug-fueled controversies, accusations, court procedures, jail time, tumultuous career ups and downs, and an untimely death. 

“[This story is] about two driven brothers destined to join forces and conquer the world. Triumph and tragedy made them more than they could ever be alone,” says Henderson, who also shares that the filming will be the first project to go into production at Buffalo Studios

As for Johnson, he is personally excited to be telling the real stories, not just the sensational accounts of Rick’s life.

Johnson explains, “People know pieces of our journey, but no one knows the complete narrative. Ultimately, there is no one alive who knows my brother’s story like I do, period. To tell my family’s story is a dream come true, and to do it at Buffalo Studios feels like a perfect match.”

It’s interesting to think that such a celebrated “hometown personality” has relatively been brushed under the rug in Buffalo – the only real tribute we have is Rick’s gravestone that is found at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Of course Rick’s life was filled with salaciousness to the extreme, due to the fact that he lived the life of a notoriously swinging and abusive rockstar, both on stage and off stage. It could be said that Rick’s life was destined for greatness, and tragedy from the start. Johnson notes some of the moments that will be captured in the storyline:

  • Helping their mother run numbers for the mob as kids
  • Famously performing with the legendary Neil Young in the Canadian band, The Mynah Birds
  • The heartbreaking moment when Johnson’s young wife dies, leading him to join Rick on the road to build their empire
  • Flying a private jet over the eye of a hurricane while on the run from authorities in Texas

“I spent countless hours over the past year and a half with LeRoi soaking up the stories and turning them into a television series,” says Henderson, who has been wanting to tell this story for 15 years.

Henderson also notes that the production team has received a positive response from several major Hollywood studios and production companies. Ultimately, he believes that Buffalo is now perfectly positioned to capitalize on its growing film industry in ways that will begin to steamroll in coming years.

“My goal is to bring the world to Buffalo. It has so much to offer. It’s a city rich with history, creativity and an outstanding labor force that has an unwavering commitment to excellence.”

“One of our main goals is to be a home for great Buffalo talent to tell great Buffalo stories. Addison and LeRoi are telling one of the biggest Buffalo stories there is, and we’re thrilled we get to play a part,” adds Matt Fleckenstein, a multiple Emmy-nominated writer/producer with over 15 years of experience developing, writing, and producing content.

Brother’s Keeper will be one for the ages and it will again spotlight the city of Buffalo, along with Buffalo Studios in its journey to becoming a major player in the Film and TV industry,” sums up producer Trent Boling.

At long last, the perfect team has been assembled, to launch production work at a new world-acclaimed studio in Rick’s home town. This is, apparently, the same red hot spotlight that Rick always craved, which is why this project, at this time, is so Super Freakalicious.

Velocity Global Group along with ARC Building Partners arranged the Partnership and is supporting both Buffalo Studios and Brother’s Keeper. Buffalo Studios is on track to break ground this spring.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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