Apollo Theater hosts star-studded ‘Get On Up’ premiere


Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

The great and the good of New York City and beyond turned out en masse at the Apollo Theater Monday night for the premiere of the James Brown biopic, Get on Up.

Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart, Who’s the Boss star Tony Danza and actress Tika Sumpter joined cast members Chadwick Bozeman, Dan Ackroyd, Craig Robinson and director Tate Taylor for the star-studded debut and after party.

The movie premiered on the same stage where Brown started out at Amateur Night in the 1950s, recorded “Live at the Apollo,” and later lay in-state as thousands passed by after his death on Christmas Day in 2006.

“I can’t think of a more fitting place for the premiere,” Apollo Theater CEO Janelle Procope said. “The Apollo stage has always been synonymous with James Brown, and vice-versa.”

While the night belonged to the movie, a funk-inflected romp through the life of “Soul Brother No. 1,” it was producer Mick Jagger who stole the show. Jagger, 70, produced “Get on Up” and had the  audience in stitches when he introduced the flick along with Taylor, the director, and co-producer Brian Grazer.

“I first saw James Brown at the Apollo, on that balcony, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” he said. “There was a lady next to me smoking a big joint. I didn’t partake but looked at it longingly.”

The Rolling Stone later joined his daughter, Elizabeth, 30, and son, Lucas, 14, at a private table at the Get on Up after party in a luxury tent erected behind the Apollo.

Jagger boogied on the dance floor with three women as Craig Robinson MC’d and his brother, DJ Chris Rob, spun James Brown tunes. His bodyguards brought him to his seat after several people began videotaping him busting a move. Meanwhile, his daughter, Lizzie, in a cream dress with black detailing, hopped on a chair to dance.

Other notables at the after party included Luke James, who left early, an iced-out Jill Scott, who posed for selfies with fans — as did Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s widow), Brown’s family — including 13-year-old James Brown Jr. — and Valerie Simpson.

The party raged until about 1 a.m., but not before Craig Robinson serenaded the crowd with a music medley that included a hilarious rendition of “Purple Rain.”

“Get on Up” opens in theaters nationwide on Aug. 1.

Follow Jennifer H. Cunningham on Twitter @jhcunningham.