*VH1 has set February 2014 for the premiere of its latest “rock doc,” although it’s rap and not rock music that’s at the center of this 4-part documentary.
“The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop,” based on Steve Stoute’s bestseller The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created A Culture That Rewrote The Rules Of The New Economy, takes a trip down memory lane to examine how hip-hop culture influenced music, film, television, fashion, business, race relations and the politics that opened the door for Obama’s America, reports Deadline.com.
“Tanning” in this case is a phrase coined by Stoute for the deep-rooted influence traditionally African-American hip-hop has had on pop culture from “The Jeffersons” to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” to Eminem’s “8 Mile.”
Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys, 30 for 30‘s Broke and The U) directed the doc with Alfred Spellman producing, nabbing interviews with Diddy, Dr Dre, Mariah Carey, Will.i.am, Russell Simmons, Pharrell, Nas, Reverend Run, Rick Rubin, Fab 5 Freddy, Jimmy Iovine, Al Sharpton, Cory Booker, Brett Ratner, Brian Grazer, Tommy Hilfiger, Ron Howard, Stoute and more.
*Diddy is reportedly planning to produce and star in a remake of cult 1990 gangster movie, “King of New York.”
The 43-year-old star – real name Sean Combs – is teaming with Oscar-winning director and producer Brian Grazer for a fresh take on Abel Ferrara’s film, which starred Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes.
A source told the New York Post newspaper: “Sean optioned the rights to remake ‘King of New York’ for two years. The film is a cult classic, and it will be great to remake it. Our version won’t be exactly the same, but will have the same hard-core gangster feel.
“Sean wants to be in it, he was amazing in ‘Monster’s Ball’, and such strong characters sit perfectly with him.”
The dark drama follows a reformed drug lord who becomes a modern-day Robin Hood by redistributing his profits to the poor living in New York City’s deprived areas.
As well as appearing in “Monster’s Ball,” Diddy has had minor roles in “Get Him to the Greek” and “Made” and has parts in upcoming films “Draft Day” and “Muppets Most Wanted.”
Below, a scene from “The King of New York.”
*Nelsan Ellis has been set to play Bobby Byrd, James Brown’s longtime friend and musical collaborator in the Tate Taylor-directed “Get On Up” for Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures.
Imagine’s Brian Grazer is producing with Jagged Films’ Mick Jagger.
It’s a big role in the film behind Brown, who’s being played by Chadwick Boseman. As previously reported, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer also star.
Ellis is best known for playing Lafayette on the HBO vampire series “True Blood.” He was last seen on screen playing Martin Luther King Jr. in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and his screen credits include “The Express,” “The Soloist,” “Secretariat,” and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”
Universal will start production November in Mississippi.
*“The Butler” director Lee Daniels is taking his talents to the small screen.
Daniels and “The Butler” writer Danny Strong are teaming with producer Brian Grazer for a hip hop drama that sparked a heated bidding war among the four major broadcast networks before landing at Fox with a put pilot commitment, reports Deadline.com.
Written by Strong and to be directed by Daniels, the untitled project is described as a unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire. 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Imagine TV are producing, with Strong, Daniels, Grazer and Francie Calfo executive producing.
The deal for the TV project comes just as Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, crossed the $100 million box office mark in North America. It would mark Daniels’ TV debut, while Strong started his writing career in TV with HBO’s “Recount” and “Game Change,” earning Emmy nominations for both and winning for “Game Change.”
Imagine, meanwhile, produces “Parenthood” on NBC and the rebooted “Arrested Development” on Netflix as well as upcoming series “Gang Related” co-staring Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and “Those Who Kill” on A&E.
*Universal Pictures announced today it will release Tate Taylor‘s James Brown movie “Get On Up” on Oct. 17, 2014, reports Deadline.com.
On Monday, the studio announced that “42” star Chadwick Boseman will portray the Godfather of Soul. The pic charts a young boy’s rise from extreme poverty and violence to become one of the most influential musical artists in history, with a career spanning six decades.
This is Taylor’s follow-up to his 2011 Oscar Best Picture nominee “The Help.” Imagine Entertainment‘s Brian Grazer and Erica Huggins produce with Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman under their Jagged Films banner. Taylor also serves as a producer, while his Wyolah Films partner John Norris executive produces alongside Trish Hofmann and Peter Afterman.
Grazer started the project at a time when Brown was an active part in its development before he died in 2006.
*Spike Lee apparently doesn’t leave the best taste in Hollywood’s mouth.
It’s not that he doesn’t make some dynamic, worth-talking-about films. It’s more like he’s not someone they particularly want to work with … at least that’s the impression producer Brian Grazer gives.
Spike was on the list to direct the James Brown biopic, but Grazer changed his mind after analyzing a few things.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed why he went with a different, white, director.
RS: What happened with Spike Lee, who was said to be directing the original movie project before Brown’s death?
BG: He was the choice when I had the rights. I had just produced Inside Man with him. When the rights left me, I didn’t have any control, and I couldn’t make director choices. So when it came later with new people and new rights holders, we weren’t doing it with Spike Lee anymore. The world was different then. Now you have to make movies for less money.
RS: When it was announced that Lee was no longer involved and that a white director, Tate Taylor, was on board, the blogosphere went nuts. How do you respond to those comments?
BG: What would I say? I view that a bunch of different ways. Mick and I don’t see the world that way. I started my career making Boomerang and CB4. I’ve made so many movies where I’ve supported black artists. Tate made The Help, and that had almost an entirely black population. I just want to try to make the best movie.
RS: Were you surprised by those reactions?
BG: Well, I didn’t read them! I can’t make movies like that, where I’m going to look at some blog and change the course of the whole movie. I also think Mick is so amazing. For him to decide he’s going to participate and split half the money – he’s a man of integrity, and I feel pretty good about that.
Whether or not this means Spike demands a higher fee or production companies are not willing to take the same kind of financial risk with Spike as they are with, say a guy like Taylor, is still questionable.
You can get more of this story at Rolling Stone.
*Director Tate Taylor, who adapted and made his helming debut on “The Help,” is in negotiations to direct an untitled biopic on James Brown – with Imagine Entertainment‘s Brian Grazer and fellow musical icon Mick Jagger serving as producers.
According to Deadline.com, the film will be a co-production between Imagine Entertainment and Jagged Films. The two parties will now look for distribution, as well as search for an actor to portray the Godfather of Soul.
The story charts his young rise from extreme poverty and violence to become a soul legend, one of the most influential black artists in history whose career spanned six decades. Grazer started the project at a time when the singer himself was an active part in its development, before he died in late 2006.
For now, Grazer was glad to have the project moving forward with Jagger and Taylor, calling Brown “one of the most electric, exciting stage performers of all time.”
Said Jagger: “It’s a great honor to be involved with a project as rich as the story of the legendary James Brown. He was a mesmerizing performer with a fascinating life.”
Brown’s family will continue to be part of the package. “I am deeply honored that Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer, two of my husband James Brown’s favorite people, have entered into a partnership to bring his inspirational story to the big screen,” added Brown’s widow, Tommie Rae Brown. Added his daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas: “My father’s music has been a beacon to people all over the world and now his life story will impact future generations and show Why he is respected as The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown!”
*Jay-Z is is having director Ron Howard and his producing partner Brian Grazer film his two-day “Made in America” festival for a documentary to hit the big screen.
Jay-Z and Steve Stoute, both co- producers, will work in tandem with the Oscar- winning duo to document the entire festival and its 40-plus performers.
“The festival showcases 20 pre-eminent artists that speak to the new generation,” Grazer told the New York Post about the project. “I am producing the film with Steve Stoute and Jay. Ron is directing. It is going to be born through Jay-Z’s perspective… how he puts the event together.”
Grazer believes documenting the festival will solidify the Brooklyn-native as the phemon he’s grown to become throughout the ages.
“Jay stayed the king for a very long time… I can’t even begin to explain how he is capable of remaining relevant. He is a phenom, like a musical Michael Jordan.”
‘Made in America’ will be held in Philadelphia on September 1 and 2. Among the performers booked so far: Drake, Pearl Jam, Run-DMC, Skrillex, Rick Ross, Miike Snow, Odd Future and Janelle Monáe.
*Former Oscar host Chris Rock will return to the event this month as a presenter, producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today.
Rock joins previously announced presenters Halle Berry, Rose Byrne, Bradley Cooper, Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Ellie Kemper, Jennifer Lopez, Melissa McCarthy, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, Emma Stone and Kristen Wiig.
The 84th Academy Awards ceremony will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live on ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.
Rock served as host of the 77th Academy Awards in 2005. He will be seen next in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “2 Days in New York.”
*Brian Grazer has accepted the Academy’s 11th hour request that he replace Brett Ratner as producer of the 84th Academy Awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Academy president Tom Sherak had to hurry up and quickly to reboot the awards show, which had lost one of its producers as well as host Eddie Murphy, who announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing from the show in the wake of Ratner’s departure the previous day.
Grazer, a producer of the upcoming “J. Edgar,” was at the top of the list of producers whom Sherak approached to come aboard and co-produce the show along with the previously announced Don Mischer. Grazer’s first order of business will be naming a new host.
It will be the first time Grazer, who won the best picture award in 2001 for “A Beautiful Mind,” has produced the telecast, scheduled for Feb. 26.
“Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extranordinary body of work,” Sherak said. “he will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars.”
In addition to his “Mind” best picture win, Grazer has been nominated in the writing category for “Splash” and received best picture nominations in 1995 and 2008 for “Apollo 13” and “Frost/Nixon.”
*Russell Simmons says the television landscape needs an integrated channel that better reflects American culture – and he’s the one to make it happen.
The music mogul is looking to buy a TV network, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The channel would be truly “diverse,” not segregated as is the standard now. Simmons said at a charity event in Hong Kong Tuesday that when mainstream networks “say diversity they mean segregation. ‘Let’s do some more black TV.’ Instead, there’s all these cultures that should be more integrated properly.”
Simmons also said, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Networks are a little slow in how mainstream culture is shifting. There’s a lack of integration in Hollywood, and I want to address that.”
The Def Jam Recordings honcho also revealed during the event that he’s working with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard on a television project. A formal announcement about it is coming soon, promised Simmons, “Now you’ve heard about it. It’s going to happen.”
*Apparently, there was a rumor going around that movie producer Brian Grazer pulled the plug on his LeBron James movie “Baller” after the player caused a PR backlash with his “Decision.”
Not only is the film still on, but E! News is reporting that James and Grazer are finally moving full-steam ahead on the project.
The duo, who were spotted with their heads together Thursday night at an NBA All-Star Weekend event in Hollywood, are hoping to see a final script soon, and a rep for Grazer says they’re hoping to start shooting this summer, E! News reports.
As previously reported, the film is about a group of guys who attend adult basketball camp.
*Eddie Murphy has just signed on to star in “Tower Heist,” the crime caper that he was originally going to lead when the project was first conceived in 2005 as an all-black version of “Ocean’s Eleven.”
According to EW.com’s Hollywood Insider, the original idea of an African-American “Ocean’s Eleven” was hatched in a conversation between Murphy and producer Brian Grazer.
Fast-forward five years — and a slew of different screenwriters — and Murphy is now joining white co-star Ben Stiller, who plays an overworked manager of a Manhattan luxury high-rise.
Stiller’s character teams up with Murphy’s operation and maintenance workers to stage a heist of its penthouse tenant, a Wall Street capitalist, played by Alan Alda, who defrauded the staff of their pensions.
Brett Ratner is directing and production is set to begin by the end of the year.