The Twentieth Century Fox movie, Drumline is an indirect autobiography of music producer Dallas Austin. It follows the life of Devon Miles, (Nickelodeons Nick Cannon) as a member of the fictitious Atlanta A&T University Marching Band. As a member of a renowned HBCU band he experiences both success and failure.
In the movie, several real-life HBCU bands accompanied the fictional universitys band. To name a few, Morris-Brown College, Grambling State University, Clark-Atlanta University and Bethune-Cookman.
Even though several university marching bands were given the opportunity to take part in this movie which focused on HBCU band life, not all accepted.
As told by Southern, Florida A&M and Grambling State University they were offered the same amount, but only Grambling accepted.
All bands were offered a flat fee of $10,000 for the performance and $3,000 for the production and pre-records and phonorecords.
It has been rumored by some that Dr. Isaac Greggs, Southern Universitys Band Director, refused to appear in Drumline because he was not offered enough money and that he did not want the "Jukebox" to be secondary.
"No amount would have been enough. My pride is too high," said Greggs.
In the original script, Southern University, portrayed as New Orleans Tech ranked in third place, and Florida A&M, portrayed as Florida Central in fourth. The competition was a part of the Southern Classic, which is realistically known as the Bayou Classic.
After Dr. Greggs complained about his position in the competition and the false name of the university, the script was adjusted so that all universities would keep their names, but Southern would still come in third place and for this reason, Greggs declined.
"How could I explain to the students and band alumni that we had to come in third, I couldnt," said Greggs.
"I felt that it would be good to make it (the movie) a part of black college band history," said Dr. Larry Pannell, Director of Bands at Grambling. Pannell is disappointed that Southern did not participate and feels there was a very good reason for their refusal.
Dr. Greggs has often stated that " "the Jukebox is often imitated, but never duplicated." Imitation was seen throughout the movie, and it was clear that certain bands were mimicking other bands. For instance, the style of the Atlanta A&T University band, as well as its director, Dr. Lee, played by Orlando Jones, from the "Make 7-Up Yours" commercials, closely resembled that of the Southern University band and director.