The final hours of Martin Luther King Day plus all the hand-wringing about Ava DuVernay‘s Selma having gotten short shrift from the Academy reminds me what a tragedy it is that Scott Rudin and Paul Greengrass‘s Memphis project, which allegedly had a brilliant script, stalled in mid-2013 and has since gone south. Memphis, I suspect, is the King project that the Academy would have really gotten hot and bothered about. And not, Sasha Stone, because of the gender or ancestry of the director, but because it might have been really damn good. I can only repeat what Greengrass told me at a Captain Phillips after-party at the Academy in early October 2013. Greengrass had cast an Atlanta-based preacher — apparently an eloquent speech-giver and sermonizer — to play King in Memphis, but the poor guy passed away during the summer of ’13. Greengrass was dispirited by this loss (he didn’t want to go into it during our chat but it was clearly a sore subject for him) and apparently lost his directorial mojo as a result. I’m also reminded of a paragraph that Deadline‘s Michael Fleming posted as part of an article about the Memphis project in November 2012: “I read the script when Greengrass tried to make the movie last time around [in April 2011], and felt it was Oscar-calibre stuff that was a powerful testament to King’s struggle and his sacrifice, even if he was portrayed as an imperfect human being. I must say it’s as good as any script I’ve read in years.”