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Reggie Ponder Talks With Creator And Cast Of Film ‘Spinning Gold’

Written by on March 24, 2023

As part of a roundtable discussion with the African-American Film Critics Association, Reggie “The Reel Critic” Ponder virtually sat down with Spinning Gold writer and director Timothy Scott Bogart, along with cast members Jeremy Jordan, Jay Pharaoh, Tayla Parx and Ledisi.

Spinning Gold tells the story of the rise of the independent music label Casablanca Records in the 1970s, and how Casablanca founder Neil Bogart helped push the career of music legends like the Isley Brothers and Donna Summers — and ended up changing the music industry forever. The film is written and directed by Timothy Scott Bogart, the son of Neil Bogart.

Reggie Ponder got the chance to talk to Timothy Bogart, and several cast members, as part of a virtual discussion with the African-American Film Critics Association. He asked Bogart about the film, and its connection to his relationship with his father, who passed away in 1982.

“It is, of course, a love letter to my father, also my mother, my step mother and my aunts and uncles,” Bogart told Ponder. “But these artists were my aunts and uncles, I grew up with them.”

Reggie also talked to cast members Jeremy Jordan, Jay Pharaoh, Tayla Parx and Ledisi about the film and what its music history meant to them, as people who were born after the peak of the artists they are portraying in the film.

Spinning Gold will be in theaters on March 31.

Reggie Ponder: Hey, I’m Reggie Ponder, the Reel Critic. I got a chance to speak with Timothy Bogart, the writer and director of the upcoming movie Spinning Gold, which is really about his father, Neil Bogart, and his run in the music industry. He worked with artists like Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, Kiss, Parliament, Funkadelic, the Isley Brothers and Bill Withers, to name a few. I also got a chance to speak to some of the stars, and you will hear from them in this order. You will hear from Ledisi, who played Gladys Knight; Tayla Parx, who played Donna Summer; Jay Pharaoh, who played Cecil Holmes; and Jeremy Jordan, who played Neil Bogart. Here’s an excerpt from that interview. 

Since this is about the music — for you, Tim — is… this seems like a love letter to your dad, but also a love letter to the sound. So I’d like for you to comment on that. And then for the cast, what do you know about this music? You’re all so young, you don’t know about this music! But I’d like to hear, what do y’all know about this music? [All laugh]

Timothy Bogart: Yes, it, of course, is a love letter to my father, also my mother and my stepmother, my aunts and uncles. But these artists were my aunts and uncles. I mean, I grew up with… Donna Summer’s daughter was my closest friend! We vacationed together, we ate together. Kiss was over all the time, Gladys was over all the time. These were incredibly consequential people to my life, and the love letter was not just to my father, when I set out from the beginning, it was to all of these remarkable artists and the music that they created. But for me, the experience and the life they opened my eyes up to. So it was absolutely a love letter to them all.

Ledisi: Mr. Ponder, you cannot love Black music and not love Gladys, get out of here! I grew up on Gladys, like that’s life! Claudine and all that. I know the music… don’t play with me! And Donna Summer, I mean, it’s like, she could have sang anything she wanted, but she chose disco, because she could sing country, pop, Broadway. That woman had lungs! But I’m done, opera, too, because she put that in her show, as well. But I’m gonna be quiet, you tell me I don’t know no music.

Tayla Parx: For me, growing up, I was very lucky that my parents had great taste in music. And, when I decided to say, “Oh, I want to be involved in music in any way, shape, or form.” My parents were very much so like, “Well, if you’re gonna do that, you’ll be a student.” And I’m a huge fan of being a student of your craft, whatever it is. And you have to go through the decades of people that came before you and understand like, “Well, what was it about them, to even build anything new?” I was definitely just lucky that I had that whole vibe of being able to say I had parents that were like, “You gotta be a student to be great.”

Jay Pharoah: My parents had an old school palette. So like, while I was riding to school, it would be the Isley Brothers, it would be Michael Jackson, Prince. It would be Donna Summers. Basically, everything that this guy Bobby J. used to play [on the radio], “Who’s on the line? It’s Bobby J!” I don’t know if you remember Bobby J., But he played all of the old school jams. And I wasn’t really allowed to listen to a lot of the contemporary tracks, like I didn’t listen to my first rap album until like 2000. It was Ludacris, Back For The First Time, that was my first album that I had. Besides that, if it wasn’t Al Green or something like that, it wasn’t playing in our house. So, I knew from my peoples!

Jeremy Jordan: Well, I think it’s kind of apparent in all these other answers… and I knew most of this music, I can’t say I knew every single thing that we put in the film, but this music has stood the test of time. And, you know, great music is going to continue to be great music, no matter when it was made. And Taylor’s always said this, a lot of times when we’ve talked, that music is cyclical. You come back, and then suddenly the ’80s are back in, and then the ’70s are back in. And we are all constantly borrowing from our… and the people that came before us. And the only way to know that is to know the music, and I always hear it. I hear it everywhere, all the time, still, to this day. So I think he really created something really special with Casablanca and and bringing these artists to the world.

Reggie Ponder: Okay, okay, okay, I’m sorry! Sorry! [All laugh]

Follow Reggie “The Reel Critic” Ponder on Twitter and Instagram

“The Reel Critic” is hosted and produced by Reggie Ponder

Introduction written by Omi Salisbury

Transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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