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May 2001
©Blackflix.com™
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JA RULE ACTING DEBUT

   Rapper, Ja Rule is hitting the big screen in two films. The first, "The Fast and the Furious," which premieres in June and "Paid In Full" that also stars Cam'ron. Ja is also looking at the script for the Iceberg Slim novel, "Crime Partners," slated to co-star Ice T and Snoop Dogg.


BOAT TRIP MAY CRUISE WITH CUBA

   Cuba Gooding, Jr. and comedian Horatio Sanz (Saturday Night Live) are in negotiations to star in the independent buddy comedy, Boat Trip, about two straight men (Gooding and Sanz) who go on a Caribbean love boat cruise only to realize their on a gay cruise. Shooting will begin in Brazil on May 9.



RAY CHARLES MAY HIT BIG SCREEN

   Legendary musician Ray Charles life story is headed to the big screen. Crusader Entertainment has signed a long term deal for the option on all entertainment rights to Charles' life story and plans for a feature film, "Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story." The deal marks the first time Charles has agreed to let his life story be turned into a feature film.



PRAS WORKING ON TWO FLICKS

   Pras' latest project, "Higher Ed," has been picked up by Urbanworld Films for major distribution. The comedy stars Pras as a track athlete from the hood, working his way through college. It also stars Hill Harper, Aries Spears, and Leila Arcieri. Urbanworld plans a limited release of the film this summer. The soundtrack, which features Pras, is due in stores this summer.
"Higher Ed" writer and director Jean Claude LaMarre, is currently directing "Go for Broke," with Pras (who is producing and starring in the film) and co-stars Michael Goorjian, LisaRaye, and Bobby Brown.



LAURENCE JOINS COP MOVIE

   Bill Duke and Robinne Lee will join Martin Lawrence for "National Security," about a white cop wrongly accused of beating a black man (Lawrence) and then gets fired for it. Lawrence's character and the cop end up working together to pursue the real killers and a smuggling ring. "National Security" begins filming this month.



WASHINGTON TO DIRECT

   Denzel Washington soon be direct ing his first flick, "Finding Fish." for Fox Searchlight. The film is an autobiographical story about an aspiring screenwriter who once worked the Sony lot as a security guard. The untitled script begins with a 24-year-old sailor being sent to a Navy psychiatrist because of his violent temper.    Although no stars are signed yet, Washington says he wants to play the psychiatrist. He will also produce.



OTHELLO REMAKE TO HIT THEATERS

   The controversial modern-day remake of Shakespeare's "Othello," titled "O," will be distributed by Lions Gate Films and will co-star Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Martin Sheen.
   Scheduled to premiere two years ago, the film was delayed in part because of the rash of school shootings at that time, including Columbine. The film ends with a school shootout. "O" will open nationwide in August.




LAURENCE A BLACK KNIGHT

   Writer David Quarles feature film "Black Knight," will star Martin Lawrence. The film's release has been backed up and is now scheduled to be released early next year.


GOODING ON THIN ICE

   David Quarles will write and executive produce the deature film "Thin Ice." Rumor has it that Cuba Gooding Jr. has been approached to headline the movie's cast.


CONCERT FILM FOR GRIFFIN

   Eddie Griffin is jumping on the concert film bandwagon and is in talks to star in his own. Griffin has booked three of his live performances to be filmed for the movie's footage.



LIL' BOW WOW A BASKETBALL STAR

   Fourteen-year-old rap star Lil' Bow Wow will make his big screen debut in 20th Century Fox' recently purchased "Like Mike." The story centers on a teen who finds a pair of Michael Jordan's
sneakers that have magical powers and transforms the teen into a basketball star. The script is based loosely on the MTV series, "Hip Hopera."



LEMMONS ADAPTS MUSIC

   Writer/director Kasi Lemmons, who gave us 1997's "Eve's Bayou" and more recently "The Caveman's Valentine," starring Samuel L. Jackson, will adapt the Vikram Seth novel, "An Equal Music" into a film script. The story is about the romance of two musicians reunited 10 years after their first meeting. Despite the fact that one of them is now married, their romance begins to blossom.



MEKHI PHIFER'S IN SONG

   Mekhi Phifer will star in the remake of the 1971's "Brian's Song," about Chicago Bears runningback Brian Piccolo, who was struck down by cancer. Piccolo will be played by Sean Maher. Phifer will play teammate Gale Sayers. The original roles were played by James Caan and Billy Dee Williams.



WAYANS BROTHERS IN 4TUNE8

   Shawn and Marlon Wayans are set to star in the comedy feature, 4TUNE8, about a struggling R&B group who cover their skin so they can become a famous white boy band.



GABRIELLE HAS TWO UPCOMING FILMS

   Gabrielle Union, has signed on for two upcoming films. Union will star in "Welcome to Collinwood," and Paramount Pictures’ "Abandon." In Collinwood, she’ll play the blind younger sister of Isaiah Washington. Once that film wraps, she’ll join Katie Holmes and Benjamin Bratt on the set of Abandon.



MICHELE SUFFERS THE PLAGUE

   Michael Michele will be the female lead in "The Plague Season," about three generations of police officers, which also co-stars Ving Rhames and Kurt Russell. Michael plays an LAPD sergeant in love with one of her fellow officers, a romance that puts her at the center of controversy in the corrupt department. She will join the production after she completes shooting on Ali.



URBANWORLD LOVES MONEY

   Urbanworld Films, has acquired worldwide theatrical rights to For da Luv of Money. The comedy, will be the directing and writing debut of actor- comedian Pierre, and will center on an average guy who gets rich when bank robbers choose his backyard to hide their stolen cash. Pierre, who recently changed his name from Pierre Edwards, will also star in the film. The film will receive a limited release in 15 markets.



WHITAKER PRODUCING BOW WOW CLUB

   Fox Searchlight has purchased playwright/actor Levy Lee Simon's screenplay, "The Bow Wow Club," based on his play of the same name. Forest Whitaker and Tajamika Paxton will produce the film through Whitaker's Spirit Dance Entertainment company. The story is a black male reunion tale.



AALIYAH IN BLUE JAZZ

   After last year's "Romeo Must Die," singer Aaliyah is now scheduled to be in the love story, "Some Kind of Blue," about a man who falls in love with his jazz idol's daughter during the 1958 Newport Jazz Fest. The film was initially created to be a Broadway musical, and is still in negotiations. No filming or release dates have been set.



SNOOP AND DRE GET WASHED

   Rapper-actors Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg have signed to star in Lions Gate Films' "The Wash." Production began in April. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg also will also executive produce the project and contribute to the soundtrack. Lions Gate is planning a release date sometime this winter. The "Wash" takes place at a busy car wash, with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg as employees and mismatched roommates.



QUARLES TO DIRECT

   "Big Momma's House" writer Darryl Quarles is in negotiation with Columbia Pictures to direct his film "If The Shoe Fits," bout a street-wise black huckster who helps save a footwear company, only to be transformed into a polished executive.


BLUES SHORT GETS LONG FOR BIG SCREEN

   Independent filmmaker Marc Cayce's "Nikita Blues" will open May 11 in over 100 cities including Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Detroit, and New York, and about 200 movie houses across the country. It was first produced in 1999 as a short film and was selected as a finalist in that year's HBO Short Film Competition. The movie features Essence Atkins ("Smart Guy"), Roz Ryan, ("Amen") and Mari Morrow (Super Bowl Bud Light commercial).