The blaxploitation era will NEVER be the same! Along with the likes of Shaft, Superfly, and Sweet Sweetback – Dolemite was one of the signature characters that created the macho-pimp hero in urban filmmaking throughout the 1970′s. Even today that era has influence in film and music with many cats in hip-hop and pop culture emulating the blaxploitation era. Recently there has been renewed interest in the films that turned Black men and women into ghetto superstars – Black Dynamite and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained are just some recent examples of Dolemite and Rudy Ray Moore’s uinfluence on pop culture today.
Now years after Rudy Ray Moore’s death, Donald Randall, who served as Moore’s long time manager, is ready to tell the world the real story behind one of blaxploitations top brands! Donald is working on producing three major products around the Rudy Ray Moore brand – a biopic based on his life, and documentary, and a remake of his biggest classic, Dolemite. Along with his acting career Moore recorded hours and hours of his x-rated comedy shows and music that no one has ever seen.
I was able to sit down with Donald and he gave me a no holds barred account on Rudy’s life up until his death and after. Donald reveals many things about the unsung actor, including his sexuality! Read below….
Carlton Jordan: What is your affiliation with Rudy Ray Moore?
Donald: Prior to his death I was his manager/friend. Now I work with his family as executor of his estate to exploit his catalog, create future products and [re]create the Rudy Ray Moore brand.
Carlton Jordan: How did you become his manager?
Donald: In the mid-70′s Rudy was living in the Dunbar Hotel and my family lived down the street. He was filming the movie “Petey Wheatstraw” on Central Ave. and I would hang out and watch. My brother, friend and I ended up getting hired as part of the crew and helped dig a graveyard for one of the scenes. I actually did a scene in the movie that was eventually edited out. Rudy and I became friends and I would hang out with him and go to his parties that I was really too young to be at. In 1979 the blaxploitation era was coming to an end, his movie “The Disco Godfather” had failed and his fame was waning. Rudy was broke and there were no more fans and no more glamorous parties. He was still living in the then-condemned Dunbar Hotel and he would come to our house to get buckets of water and use our phone. In the 80′s when the rap/hip hop music scene took off, rappers started sampling Rudy and his popularity began to rise again. I took the initiative to go after the rappers who were sampling him and collect the money they owed him for the use of his work. And that’s how our business relationship began.
Carlton Jordan: Why have you just now decided to do a movie on him?
Donald Randall: The movie has been in the works for many years, but do to setbacks and Rudy’s death we haven’t been able to complete it.
Carlton Jordan: What will the movie be about?
Donald Randall: The movie will be about the life of Rudy Ray Moore including his rise to fame, his public persona and the very personal side that the public never saw. Rudy had a lot of demons and secrets that would really surprise the public and that contradict the persona he portrayed.
Carlton Jordan: Talk to me about the documentary you’re planning?
Donald Randall: About 90% is already shot. There are interviews with the people who worked closely with Rudy like Jerry Jones who wrote the screenplay for the movie “Dolemite” and also Ernie Hudson who played in “The Human Tornado” and “Ghostbusters.” The documentary is titled “Who Is Rudy Ray Moore” and is based on my experiences from my time and travels with Rudy. I’m going to include never-before-seen photos, documents, concert footage and shocking audio interviews with his close friends. I’ve also got a few stories of my own to share.
Carlton Jordan: Do you have the family’s blessing on the project?
Donald Randall: Oh yeah. I have an agreement with the family to do both the movie and the docu-pix as well as to exploit Rudy’s catalog.
Carlton Jordan: What do you think Rudy Ray Moore’s legacy is?
Donald Randall: Rudy was a cussing rhymer. He was an artist that influenced hip hop, black comedy and black filmmakers. The media loved him. He was considered a forerunner as far as producing and owning his own material and in his boldness with using foul language and nudity.
Carlton Jordan: What do you want people to learn about him?
Donald Randall: He wanted young people to believe in themselves and own themselves.
Carlton Jordan: Who has shown interest in the project? Writer? Director? Producer?
Donald Randall: Reginald Hudlin and comedian Michael Collier have all expressed interest in being involved with the film. Also we have a great treatment by a talented writer ready to go.
Carlton Jordan: Who do you envision playing Rudy Ray Moore? How do you feel about Anthony Mackie (plug).
Donald Randall: My personal favorites are Tracy Morgan and Charlie Murphy. Maybe underground comedian Scruncho. But Anthony Mackie is a good actor as well.
Carlton Jordan: Why was Rudy Ray Moore so misunderstood? Under-appreciated?
Donald Randall: Probably because of his foul mouth and because his style was ahead of its time. He was doing things that noone else dared to do and that were considered taboo. Also, Rudy was his own worse enemy. He didn’t make the best business decisions and that hurt him and his progress.
Carlton Jordan: Has there been a good response to the project? What you expected?
Donald Randall: We’re not at that point yet. We’re still coming up with ideas, but we’re expecting good things.
Carlton Jordan: Was Rudy ever married or have any kids? Have you heard about the rumors that Rudy Ray was a homosexual? How do you respond to that?
Donald Randall: He was never married and had no kids. I heard rumors over the years that Rudy was gay but I never saw any evidence of it. I have heard stories and have found now that the accusations were correct. I have footage of interviews with people outing him and if you listen to his comedy he does make reference to it. He also signed two drag queens to his label and had gay male actors in his movies. There were only three men around Rudy who weren’t gay. But I never knew this until his co-star and friend Jimmy Lynch told me. Then I believed it. Rudy did a very good job of covering it up.
Rudy did have some girlfriends according to his friend Ben Taylor. But he also had male lovers. The documentary will cover that.
Donald Randall: He had money but no happiness.
Carlton Jordan: Besides Rudy’s character, what other actors do you want in the movie.
Donald Randall: Terrance Howard as me! Red Grant, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dog, Sheryl Underwood, Lunell, Bishop Don Juan, and I’d really like to see Busta Rhymes.
Carlton Jordan : Was his finances career ever mismanaged? How so?
Donald Randall: Yes. Dimension Pictures (in 1975) filed bankruptcy on Rudy after releasing Dolomite. The movie made millions of dollars but he hasn’t seen a dime of it. So on paper he was worth millions, yet he never saw any on that money. Career-wise Rudy didn’t have the right people around him back in the day. He was strong-headed and independent and wanted to do things this way causing him to be creative but not a business man. Everybody from the film side and music side did nothing but exploit him. He got money but not what he deserved because people stole from him.
Carlton Jordan: When did you first come up with an idea to do a movie about his life? What has that process been like?
Donald Randall: 1997 was when we first started talking about it. Rudy would always tell me stories about his childhood, being on the road, being in the army, the making of his movies and I thought it would make a good story.
Carlton Jordan: Are you doing a doc, movie, and remake? Why do you feel the audience would care now?
Donald Randall: I’m self-producing and directing a documentary because I have terabytes of Rudy that I’ve personally filmed over the years. I’ve currently been interviewing fans, colleagues and industry insiders and I have archives of photos, articles and memorabilia, master tapes of his recordings and other original items that will make a great documentary. We also have a treatment and director in mind for a bio pic. There’s no deal in place but there is interest. Thirdly, the remake of the movie Dolemite will happen, but at this time Xenon Pictures has the rights after stealing them away and taking advantage of Rudy to get them. I have to tell you the story in person for you to get the whole story.
Carlton Jordan: Describe the footage/archives you have? What makes it so interesting?
Donald Randall: One-on-one interviews with Rudy and journalists, radio interviews, behind the scenes footage of the making of movies, live stand-up comedy, live singing performances with bands, Q&As at film festivals, Rudy interacting with fans at conventions and testimonies with actors and rappers etc.
Carlton Jordan: Which rappers were using his samples? How did you approach them for royalties?
Donald Randall: 2 Live Crew, Schooly D (Mr. Big Dick), Queen Latifah (Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children on All Hail the Queen), NWA (Gangster, Gangster; Just Don’t Bite It; She Swallowed It), Dr. Dre ( The Cronic: Dre Day, Deeez Nuuuts), Yo Yo (Mama Don’t Take No Mess), Master P, MC Ren, Snoop Dogg, Warren G., Ludacris and more that I can’t think of right now. I approached the record labels or attorneys and told them I was representing Rudy’s catalog and that their artists sampled him without permission and we wanted compensation.
Carlton Jordan: Did Rudy have beef with other comedians? Which ones and why?
Donald Randall: Rudy pretty much had a beef with anybody who was current, doing better than him and doing similar material but who didn’t give him credit for inspiring him. He thought he was under-appreciated. He would go from accusing Steve Harvey and the others of not being the kings of comedy to praising them for their talent and success. He said things about Richard Pryor stealing his act etc.
Rudy Ray Moore died at the age of 81 in 2008.
Check out out Rudy Ray Moore gallery below: