A little-known New York rapper will portray slain star Notorious B.I.G. in a biopic of the late hip-hop icon's life.
Producers Fox Searchlight--who wanted to avoid recruiting a well-known name--picked Brooklyn-based Jamal Woolard out of 100 hopefuls for the film, which will document the tragic rapper's childhood, his rise to fame and his untimely 1997 death in a Los Angeles drive-by shooting.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., the film--entitled Notorious--goes into production later this month and is set for release in January 2009.
The producers held an open casting call last fall in the hope of finding a realistic Notorious B.I.G. lookalike who could imitate the late star's rapping style, rather than hire a professional actor to play the part. Reggae star Sean Kingston and rapper Beanie Sigel were among the stars turned down.
Woolard--also known as Gravy--released a number of albums on independent labels in the 1990s before being signed by Warner Bros. In 1999, he was involved in a New York radio station shooting, but survived the attack.
Notorious B.I.G.'s mother, Voletta Wallace--who refers to her late son by his real name, Christopher Wallace--insists "Jamal's charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile" was the reason he was cast in the role.
She adds, "He is a talented and charismatic actor, and I am excited that he will bring Christopher's character to life."
COPYRIGHT 2008 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Rap artist Beanie Sigel was charged with assault for attacking a man on the
South Philadelphia street from which he derived his hip-hop moniker, police
told Reuters on Saturday.
Connie Stevens has appealed a reversed $4.3 judgement made by the San
Francisco State Supreme Court against her former manager, Norton Styne, who in
1998 claimed the singer owed him royalties from sales of her cosmetics line
on the Home Shopping Network. Stevens is testifying that
Styne was an unlicensed agent at the time, violating the state's Talent
Agencies Act, The Associated Press reports.
The Indian film Sandstorm, based on the true story of a low-caste
woman who was gang-raped for criticizing child marriages, won the best feature
film award at Zanzibar's Festival of the Dhow Countries on Saturday, the
Associated Press reports. Directed by Jag Mohan, the heroine of the film
seeks justice against the group of upper-caste men who raped her, confronting
sexism and political opportunism in the Indian judiciary.
At an inaugural annual festival in Rochester to celebrate the accomplishments
of women in film, Jackie Brown star Pam Grier will be presented with a
career achievement award on Oct. 20, Friday's Rochester Democrat and
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon helped sponsor a contest to help produce an
aspiring script writer's film, then documented the process for Project
Greenlight, a 13-episode documentary debuting on HBO in December.
According to the Associated Press, the documentary includes uncensored,
behind-the-scenes arguing about budgets and script revisions with Pete Jones,
a Chicago insurance salesman, who was selected from more than 7,000 entrants
for his script Stolen Summer.
The members of 'N Sync offered the Backstreet Boys' A.J. McLean their condolences
while he spends 30 days at a rehab clinic for depression and alcohol abuse.
"I really don't know what to say about that, except for, you know, I hope he
gets better," Chasez said in a telephone press conference Friday,
SonicNet.com reports. "It's kind of sad that he's got a problem like that,
and I wish the guy the best. I hope he pulls it together. At least he's
admitted to himself that he has a problem. And that's pretty much the first
Folk musician Joan Baez has canceled her appearance at the Singer Songwriter
Weekend festival on July 21 because of her sister's life-threatening cancer.
According to AP, the festival, sponsored by WXPN-FM, the public radio station
at the University of Pennsylvania, will continue with other performers,
including Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer.
Start with hard work a grueling arduous schedule and an industry already famous for fast living. Throw in lots of money and starstruck scantily dressed fans willing to do anything for a few moments with the men of their dreams and ... well you know. But there's more to "Backstage" than cognac bottles green leafy substances and female anatomy. Rappers eat sleep play fight discuss their inner struggles and admit to being moved to tears by "Good Will Hunting." Just don't expect the story of the girl who broke up the band -- the rivalries and conflicts are mostly low-key and a friendly paintball game supplies the only gunplay.
As major players in an image-conscious business the rappers and hip-hop impresarios profiled here do their fair share of posturing; at other times the conversations seem remarkably candid and revealing. Highlights include interviews with Jay-Z Beanie Sigel and DMX with some comic relief as hip-hop wannabes try to impress the touring rappers. Also noteworthy is the film's focus on music magnate Damon Dash and his high-decibel insights into management philosophy intellectual property and brand identity. (He is the producer after all.)
Documentary and music video director Chris Fiore chose to let the subjects of "Backstage" tell the story in their own words. Unlike many of his contemporaries he helped them out by editing miles of celluloid and tape into a well-structured comprehensible narrative. The film starts out loud and fast and keeps up the pace despite a detour into sex and drugs that lasts just a bit too long. Missing for the most part is the view from across the yawning gender gap -- little is heard from female hip-hop artist Amil despite her prominent billing in the credits.