Update: Dan Gilbert Thanks Michael Bolton 'for Becoming a Detroiter'

October 03, 2015, 11:00 AM by  Alan Stamm

Detroit "royalty" was at the Fox Theatre for Friday night's first public look at chunks of singer Michael Bolton's screen homage to the city.

Dan Gilbert, Chris Ilitch, Mike Duggan, Debbie Stabenow and John Conyers were among guests, Brian McCollum reports at the Free Press.

"Thank you for becoming a Detroiter," Gilbert told Bolton, who is personally financing the $400,000 film. . . .

Martha Reeves, clutching a bouquet of red roses, was among the Motown figures on hand for the occasion, joining Bolton and young "American Idol" alum Jena Irene onstage for a night-closing performance of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

With Bolton and emcee Mitch Albom of the Free Press manning the stage, attendees were shown several lengthy segments from the film, which is in the final editing stage as producers aim for a run on the 2016 film-festival circuit. . . . 

Footage screened Friday night included an upbeat look at downtown's revival at the hands of the Ilitch family, Gilbert and Bill Ford, alongside the stories of younger upstarts such as Shinola and the Slow Roll weekly bike excursion. A segment with Gilbert drew a rousing cheer when the Quicken Loans founder said he foresees a day that Detroit becomes the top lure for the country's smartest college graduates.

Also featured were visits to area auto plants, scenes of Corktown, the Detroit Institute of Music Education, the dPop design firm, the GM Student Corps program and a tour of Veronica Scott's Empowerment Plan, which enlists women from local shelters to manufacture coats-turned-sleeping-bags for the homeless.

Original article, Friday morning

Michael Bolton, singer-filmmaker? Hey, why not?

The focus of this entertainment icon's career expansion, aptly, is an urban icon redefining itself.

"Gotta Keep Dreamin': Detroit's 21st Century Renaissance," a documentary he's co-producing, is Bolton's effort to help change views of the city.

Michael Bolton is Detroit this summer: “This is one of the greatest comeback stories in American history.”

It isn't done yet, Brian McCollum of the Freep writes, and footage will be added from Friday night's invitation-only Fox Theatre premiere of the work-in-progress.

The celebrity producer, who's making his second movie, also serves as narrator and co-director with his manager Christina Kiline. They hope to wrap by Oct. 14, the deadline for Sundance Film Festival submissions. 

McCollum reports:

The 62-year-old star was in Detroit on Thursday making the media rounds, including a news conference at the Westin Book Cadillac, where a film teaser featured historical footage and interviews with figures ranging from business heavyweights Bill Ford and Christopher Ilitch to entertainers such as Smokey Robinson and Alice Cooper.

The idea grew from Bolton’s 2012 decision to record an album of Motown songs, Geoff Edgars writes in an earlier, vastly longer Washington Post feature:

Bolton has spent three years and $250,000 of his own money in the hopes of recasting how the public views Detroit.

“This,” he says, “is one of the greatest comeback stories in American history.” . . .

The project has sparked considerable interest since Bolton began conducting interviews with everyone from Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson to Mayor Mike Duggan and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert.

Charlie LeDuff, the author of “Detroit: An American Autopsy” and no pushover, doesn’t snicker.

“I’ll reserve judgment until I see it,” he says. “Come on in. Do your thing. What have you got, brother?”

Gilbert, the billionaire Detroit native who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, goes further. He’s impressed by Bolton’s approach.

“Look, to have somebody of his stature reach out and tell the story, the way it is and not just tell ruin porn, showing the same six burned-out shops, I like that,” says Gilbert. “He’s going to show what happened, where this city was and then all the great things happening.”

Edgars' article is accompanied by a five-minute video (above) by McKenna Ewen of The Post, taped as Bolton oversaw shooting of his documentary in downtown Detroit (including inside Quicken Loans), the Motown Museum and other city highlights this past summer.

 The reporter asks the superstar whether his film "presents too rosy a portrait." 

“I don’t think anybody’s ever going to sweep the blight and issues of security under the carpet,” he says. “But the reality is that the people who have come through, who have also used up a lot of valuable time, wind up going and covering only the tough stuff about the city. There are great things going on now. . . .

"All of these journalists and interested parties have come in and presented themselves as people interested in the truth and in reality, [but] they’re just coming around and bludgeoning Detroit,” says Bolton. “Why aren’t people covering the great stories, the promising stories?” 

Spoiler: He doesn't claim to be trying anything of the sort.

During their 2012 album-related visit, Bolton and Kline met Dan Gilbert, among others. "Kline had taken cameras along simply to document Bolton’s Motown [studio] visit," Edgars writes in The Post.

Soon, the two realized they had a bigger story to tell, of the developers, entrepreneurs and regular people working on a Detroit revival.

On Friday night, the 170 or so Detroit Homecoming invitees got the first public look at how "Gotta Keep Dreamin'" is coming together.

Inevitably, the project already generates a familiar, tiresome trope pictured at right. Ask that question here at your risk.


Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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