The pop singer screened excerpts from his “Gotta Keep Dreamin” and discussed it with several of the film’s subjects
A crowd of VIPs — including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Dan Gilbert, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Christopher Ilitch — were among those in attendance at the Fox Theatre Friday night as pop singer Michael Bolton screened excerpts from his forthcoming Detroit documentary, “Gotta Keep Dreamin.”
Bolton appeared on stage at the private, invitation-only event to introduce the clips and share the story of how an adult contemporary singer from Connecticut came to make a documentary about the revitalization of the Motor City. (The short answer: a lifelong love affair with Motown.)
Bolton’s goal for the film is to tell the story of the city’s revival to let outsiders know what is happening in the city. “Our intention is being part of the tipping point in perceptions about Detroit,” Bolton told reporters before the event.
Clips that were screened include segments that focus on the Ilitch family, Detroit’s weekly Slow Roll bike ride, the Shinola watch company, Dan Gilbert’s downtown rehabilitation efforts, the Empowerment Plan program, the contributions of Motown and techno to the city’s musical legacy and the importance of the Eminem “Imported from Detroit” commercial that aired during the Super Bowl in 2011.
Interview subjects in the film include Jerry Bruckheimer, Francis Ford Coppola, Quincy Jones, William Clay Ford, Jr., Mary Wilson, David Foster, Barrett Strong, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Martha Reeves and Phil Cooley, while the soundtrack features Rodriguez, Dej Loaf and songs from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Bolton’s 2013 album of Motown covers.
Gilbert and Ilitch were among those who, in between scenes, discussed their participation in the film, along with Jason Hall of Detroit’s Slow Roll, Melissa Price of the dPOP! design firm, Veronica Scott of the Empowerment Plan and several others. Mitch Albom hosted the event.
Gilbert had several colorful moments, explaining what he tells outsiders who are curious what is happening in Detroit. “Just get here, dude,” he says he tells them, and then, “When they get here, we’ve got them.” He also remarked about the suburbs versus the city, “There’s only so many Chinese restaurants in a strip mall you can go to.”
Gilbert also officially gave Bolton his Detroit stripes. “Thank you for becoming a Detroiter,” he told him, to which Bolton replied, “I’m honored.”
Bolton closed the event by singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” alongside Martha Reeves and Season 13 “American Idol” runner-up Jena Irene, of Farmington Hills.
“Gotta Keep Dreamin” will finish post-production later this month. Bolton plans to take “Dreamin’” on the film festival circuit and eventually hopes to give it a limited theatrical run.