When the news hit earlier this month that Jerry Garcia's had denied the music rights to a planned biopic by director Amir Bar-Lev, it seemed like a near fatal blow to what looked like the next project from the director of My Kid Could Paint That and The Tillman Story. At the time the only news was coming from the statement by Garcia's estate, with no comment from Bar-Lev on the rights situation or how he might go forward with the project without access to the Grateful Dead catalog.

When I talked to Bar-Lev last week about The Tillman Story he at first wouldn't comment on the Garcia situation beyond insisting that, yes, it's his next project and he's moving forward with it. But he eventually offered that there is more to the story than what we've seen in the press so far:

"The reporting on that has been somebody taking a press release and just pawning it off as a news story."


He compared the situation to what's depicted in The Tillman Story, as the media bought the government's account of a former football player who died a war hero, when in fact Tillman was killed senselessly in Afghanistan as a result of friendly fire. Bar-Lev's astonishing documentary does a lot to deconstruct the modern media practice of "report first, ask questions later," and clearly he feels a little burned by the fact that a press release from Garcia's camp made the rounds as news without any statement from Bar-Lev or his fellow filmmakers.

We're not any better about this, of course, and this article itself is going up as a single-source story, but as Bar-Lev points out, it's all a practice that kind of stretches the definition of "news." While I sit here with my tail between my legs, though, you should all be happy to know that Bar-Lev is confident the Garcia biopic is next for him, so we'll have to wait and see how the rights issue works itself out. Check back later for more from my interview with Bar-Lev about The Tillman Story, which hits theaters this weekend.

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