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October 2002
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LIL' KIM IN WESTERN

Hip-hop star Lil' Kim is set to make her feature film debut in the indie urban Western "Guns and Roses." The cast also includes singer Bobby Brown, LisaRaye, Monica Calhoun, Marie Matiko, and Louis Mandylor. Set in the 1800s, the action film combines elements of spaghetti westerns and the world of hip-hop and follows five female outlaws out to avenge the murder of one of their own. The film is lensing in LA.



BENSON B-BALL STORY

Director/Actor Robert Townsend is working to bring the biopic of ex-con/NBA prospect Lee Benson to the big screen. Benson was a top NBA hopeful, but went to prison for drug trafficking in 1993 before realizing his dream of playing pro ball. Benson, now out on parole, has returned to the game. Towsend described the film saying, "The troubled road Lee Benson has traveled and survived has all of the elements to make a great motion picture, a cross between 'Boyz N the Hood' and 'The Rookie."



LL COOL "SMITH"

Actor LL Cool J will join Samuel L. Jackson in the new film "S.W.A.T." The movie is about a crime boss being transported by an LAPD Special Weapons and Tactics Team, but the crime boss has offerred $100 million to anyone who can free him. "S.W.A.T." also stars Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner, and Michelle Rodriguez. But this will be the first time LL will be credited by his real name, James Todd Smith. After "S.W.A.T.," LL (Smith) is signed up for the action-thriller "Mindhunters" and the romantic comedy "Deliver Us From Eva."



NEAL RISING IN MISSISSIPPI

Flatland Pictures is slated to release "The Rising Place," written, directed and produced by Tom Rice, in November. The flick takes place on the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s and follows the close friendship of two young women of different races and their struggles during times of social injustice and world war. The film stars Elise Neal, Frances Fisher, Alice Drummond, Laurel Holloman and features original songs by Jennifer Holliday.



GRIFFIN WANTS SAMMY BIOPIC

Eddie Griffin is in talks with Sammy Davis Jr.'s widow regarding production of a biopic about the legendary star.



LIL' ROMEO TO BE ROMEO

Lil' Romeo, who's currently shooting "Honey" in Toronto with Mekhi Phiffer, is being sought
out to play the part of Romeo, as in Romeo and Juliet for MGM. The film will be produced by his father, Master P along with Artists Production Group's Mark Canton. The script follows a teenage/hip-hop take on the Shakespeare classic with the violence in the original tale expressed through music and dance. A nationwide search will soon begin to find Juliet for the multiethnic and multicultural project.



LUDACRIS SIGNS WITH FAST & FURIOUS

Rapper Ludacris recently signed on for "The Fast and Furious 2" which will be directed by John Singleton. Production begins this fall in Miami. Ludacris will join Tyrese, JaRule, Eva Mendes and others. Ludacris short acting career includes a small part in the comedy "The Wash" and a guest appearance on the Showtime series "Soul Food."



WHITAKER'S "DEFENSE"

Showtime is going on the "Defense." The cable network will present "Deacons of Defense," starring Forest Whitaker and Ossie Davis, about the 1960s black militia group. Deacons of Defense and Justice was a vigilante group established in Louisiana in 1964 to protect black citizens against the Ku Klux Klan. Whitaker will play the group's leader, and Davis will play a local minister who urges a nonviolent approach.



"STATE" INCREASES CAST

Tracy Morgan of "Saturday Night Live," is the latest to join the film "Head of State" about an African-American running for President of the United States. The film also includes Chris Rock and Bernie Mac. Rock, who plays the lead role, also directs the film.



HENSON NEUTERS XMAS DOGG

The Jim Henson Company announced that, because of production concerns, approximately a half an hour of footage from the originally planned made-for-TV special "It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas" will be cut ... includinga brief cameo appearance by Snoop Dogg. Project Islamic Hope and conservative Bill O'Reilly both recently chastized the Dogg for openly advocating the use of drugs, gang violence, his sexually explicit music, and his appearance in porno movies. The Henson company says the cut occured because of "production reasons," not because of the heat brought by Snoop Dogg critics.



FUQUA IN NEW JACKET

"Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua is next going to helm "The Jacket," which is described as a psychological thriller about a man convicted of a crime he didn't commit. No shooting schedule or release date has been announced yet.



ISAIAH A VILLIAN

Isaiah Washington is set to play the lead villain in Revolution Studios' untitled cop project directed by Ron Shelton. Production is scheduled to begin late this month. Shelton wrote the project with retired police officer-turned-screenwriter Robert Souza.



MASTER P AND CASH MONEY?

Master P says he and Baby, the co-CEO of Cash Money Records, plan to collaborate on a new movie, "Ghetto Ballin." P calls the movie a "hood comedy," and will be about P and Baby having the same "babymama." Just days after the announcement, however, Cash Money representatives said they didn't know of the project. "Cash Money is involved in and working on great things, but movie venture with P isn't one of them," a spokesperson said.



"25th HOUR" NOT A 9/11 CHASER

In his upcoming film "25th Hour," director Spike Lee is respectful of the 9-11tragedy. His film was written before the September 11 tragedy, and he says, "We definitely wanted to make it apparent that the film takes place in a post-9/11 New York City. No one wants to seem like an ambulance chaser, -- making 9/11 films -- so they do it on the down low."



CAREY IN CABLE MOVIE

Mariah Carey is scheduled to appear in the Cinemax movie "Wisegirls" which debuts October 19. The film got rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and co-stars Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters. It's about three waitresses in an Italian family run restaurant. "It's been great for me," Carey said, "just to come into it as an actor and go forth and feel and to be creative and to express another side of my creative self. Its been the most freeing experience."



LAWRENCE RUNS FOR BORDER

Martin Lawrence is running, for the border! The comedic actor will star in a buddy comedy based on his recent real-life mishap in Acapulco. Lawrence attempted to leave Mexico after insulting a government official in his act. Things didn't go well and will be the basis for the movie.



GOSSET IN JASPER TEXAS

Showtime has given the greenlight to "Jasper, Texas," the true story of the racially motivated killing of James Byrd Jr., when Byrd's body was chained and dragged behind a pickup truck. The film stars Jon Voight, Louis Gosset, Jr., Joe Morton and Bokeem Woodbine.



SYMONE PART OF GIRL GROUP

The remaining members of 3LW will star in a new movie about a multiracial girl group. Raven Symone is on tap to also play a member of the fictional act. No release date has been scheduled yet.



GUILLAUME IN DREADLOCKS

Actors Robert Guillaume, Bill Erwin, Omar Gooding, Tangi Miller, and Sean Rector are signed up for the indie flick, "Tough Like Wearing Dreadlocks." Set in Washington, DC, the film tells the story of a white, male Harvard University student who is given a "loyalty task" by the fraternity he is pledging -- he must attend the predominately black, Howard University for a semester, pledge a black fraternity, and win the affection of a black woman. Principal photography is slated to begin this fall.