GREG'S SPEECH AT MUHAMMAD ALI'S 70TH BIRTHDAY PARTY
This project is, and will always be, bittersweet. The bitter is that they didn’t shoot my script, or at least not enough of it. I shared credit on this movie. Too many cooks and no vision. The movie wasn’t awful. It just was a travelogue of Ali’s life. My script, “Power and Grace,” was epic, mythic, and character driven.
But the sweet, is and has been, very sweet: I’ve developed and maintained a relationship with Ali, his lovely wife, Lonnie, my sister from another mother; and Mr. Howard Bingham, official first friend of the champ. I would have to write several pages to express the joy these relationships have given me.
When I was hired to write Ali, Will Smith was the Fresh Prince; nothing more. He wasn’t then financeable. When he became a movie star, then the movie got made. By the time he became a star, I had been fired, the second writing team had been fired, and the director brought in his guy and they wrote their version. Ego destroyed the movie. Oh, what could’ve been.
There are now five names attached to the screenplay of Ali, the epic biographical film about the boxer Muhammad Ali directed by Michael Mann. But at the beginning, there was Gregory Allen Howard, whose screenplay for Remember the Titans, became one of the most successful sports films of all time.
How long has Ali, the movie about the heavyweight boxing champ, been kicking around Hollywood:
"When I first got hired, they said to write it for Lawrence Fishburne," says the film's scriptwriter, Gregory Allen Howard. "At the time, Larry was already too old for the part." And Will Smith - who eventually signed on - hadn't yet made Independence Day or Men in Black. He was still just the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Imagine Muhammad Ali being "childlike in sweetness" and Fidel Castro, "incredibly funny."
That's exactly how Greg Howard, a former Vallejoan and screenwriter, describes the famous men.
Howard, who grew up in Vallejo, met Castro earlier this year while accompanying Ali to Cuba.
Ali and a group of other Americans were delivering $2 million worth of medicine as a humanitarian effort to the embargoed nation.