A rare, not to say quixotic, attempt to bring rap music into the Broadway mainstream, Holler If Ya Hear Me will close Sunday at the Palace Theatre after 17 previews and 38 regular performances. Embedding the music of murdered poet and rapper Tupac Shakur into a tale of struggle to find dignity on mean streets, Holler featured a strong ensemble cast led by what, under happier circumstances, would have been a star-making performance by hip-hop poet and rapper Saul Williams.
The show was staged by Kenny Leon, who had just had a triumph directing a Broadway revival of A Raisin in The Sun starring Denzel Washington. Capitalized at about $8 million, the show lost money every week. Last week it took in just $154,948, or 17% of its gross potential, while playing to houses that were less than half-full in a legendary theater whose seating capacity already had been reduced by hundreds of seats for the show.
The musical, which opened in June, features over 20 Shakur songs, including the title number, ”California Love,” “I Get Around,” “Thugz Mansion,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Dear Mama,” “Me Against the World,” “Unconditional Love” and “Hail Mary.” Time magazine’s Richard Zoglin called the show “a bold effort to open up Broadway to a new musical idiom, without diluting it or reducing it to a cartoon. The show hollers, and you … Read More »
Tupac In The House Judy Garland Built
Saul Williams is impressive as the lead of a musical that is less about the iconic rapper and more about life on the streets set to his music. Deadline's Jeremy Gerard reports on opening night at the Palace.
Gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur died at 25, a few days after a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, where his crew from Death Row Records tangled with members of the Crips gang. Officially, the murder is unsolved, but a long investigation by the Los Angeles Times pointed the trigger finger at gang warfare. Shakur left an impressive catalog of words and music about life in prison, on the street and in the relative sanctuary of the recording studio, where the F-word and the N-word and plenty of other raw, uncensored, blistering words were turned into digital zeros and ones and launched into the world. (He also had a budding film career that included the 1992 Juice.)
Holler If Ya Hear Me, taken from a definitive 2Pac anthem, is the title of the show that opened last night at the Palace Theatre — yes, the Palace that Judy Garland played. It’s not a bio-musical; instead, Shakur’s scorching, sometimes mournful words and driving music are set in a book by Todd Kreidler that tells a more generic tale: Of life for the hopeless young and armed restless on the mean streets of an unnamed city that reads a lot like Detroit.
There is some very good news in the Broadway debut of Saul Williams, a gifted rapper himself, as the Shakur character here called John. He makes his entrance descending from the flies in a prison cell: Teardrops and closed caskets, the three-strikes … Read More »
The late hip hop icon Tupac Shakur is now the subject of two feature projects. His mother, Afeni Shakur, has long been involved in Tupac, the John Singleton-directed biopic that Open Road Films acquired U.S. rights to distribute. , the long-awaited and highly anticipated feature on the life of Tupac Shakur directed by John Singleton. Now, Tupac’s cousin, William Lesane, has written The Rise And Fall Of Makavelli The Don, and he is making plans to produce a movie about the events of Shakur’s life. He has raised a commitment of $15 million to shoot in New Mexico, but his reps won’t say if he’s got any rights to use Shakur’s tunes. Lesane said he secure the commitment from Giovanni De Francisci, the portfolio manager of Petschek Trust, along with Monegasque Movie Productions, the latter of which will make its debut on the film. Said Lesane: “The time has come to tell the real Tupac Shakur story, the movie his fans really want to see. Any movie that is produced about Tupac has to tell a truly great story with a bold statement attached. Our movie does that in spades…I lived this story with my cusin and paid tremendously for it.” Ed Arena is casting the film.
Usually in cases of competing music projects, the first one in production wins. The other Shakur project is far along, with a script by Jeremy Haft & Ed Gonzalez and Singleton, and … Read More »
John Singleton has signed on to direct, re-write, and produce Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films’ Tupac Shakur biopic, which is hitting up a summer 2014 shoot. The long-gestating pic about the late iconic rapper and sometimes actor known as 2Pac got renewed momentum last Fall when Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films joined Morgan Creek as co-financier. Singleton will work with Ed Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft to revise their original greenlit script. Needless to say, Shakur’s lifelong ambitions as a rap star yielded one of the more colorful and tragic life stories of recent decades. The charismatic Shakur, a legendary West Coast hip hop fixture and one of the best-selling artists of all time, dabbled in an acting career throughout the ’90s with memorable turns in Juice, Above the Rim and later Bullet, Gridlock’d, and Gang Related before he was killed at the age of 25 in a 1996 Las Vegas drive-by shooting that remains unsolved. Read More »
If you didn’t read some of Deadline’s Top Film stories this week, here’s your chance today:
‘Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston Will Next Play Blacklisted Scribe Dalton Trumbo
By Mike Fleming Jr – EXCLUSIVE: When he completes his tour de force run in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston will play the title role in the Jay Roach-directed Trumbo, the fact-based feature of the man who broke the Hollywood blacklist.
‘Prisoners’ Breaks Out For #1 With $21.4M; ‘Battle Of The Year’ #5 For Bleak $4.1M
By Nikki Finke - SUNDAY 1 AM, 4TH UPDATE: With the 65th Emmys broadcasting this weekend, Hollywood is only talking television, television, television. Read More »
UPDATE, 1:22 PM: Morgan Creek has confirmed Deadline’s report in a news release. It added that LT Hutton also is aboard as a producer and that the film will shoot in Atlanta.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films is teaming with Morgan Creek Productions to co-finance and co-produce Tupac, creating a new urgency for the long-gestating biopic on the hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur. They are working with a script by Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft, and a new draft is expected in two weeks. Several companies battled for the rights to partner on the film with Jim Robinson’s Morgan Creek before MCP president David Robinson sealed the deal with EFO. They are eyeing a February start date and a $45 million budget. They have the rights to exploit Tupac’s musical catalog, and his mother, Afeni Shakur, will be a producer on the film.
Born in East Harlem to parents who were members of the Black Panthers, Shakur shot to fame as a hip-hop artist and an actor. That rise started with the release of 2Pacalypse Now. His gruff delivery of politically charged, in-your-face lyrics and willingness to lead the “thug life” made him highly credible in the urban music scene. It also made him a target, particularly when a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers escalated from insults to gunfire. Tupac was gunned down on a street corner in Las Vegas in 1996, and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Starrbury has been brought on board to rewrite Morgan Creek Productions’ Tupac Shakur biopic. Starrbury wrote the screenplay for The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, which is premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The Tupac film was announced by Morgan Creek in early 2011. The screenplay for the movie about the iconic hip hop artist, who was killed in 1996, was originally written by Steve Bagatourian, Stephen Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson. James Robinson, David Robinson, and LT Hutton are producing, with Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur as executive producer. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, about two abandoned small boys trying to survive in the city, is generating a lot of interest at Sundance even though it doesn’t premiere until January 25. Select buyers got an advance look by attending a volunteer Inevitable screening on January 17. Starrbury is also currently finishing up adapting the graphic novel The Great Unknown for New Line. Mark Gordon and Jennifer Todd are producing the action comedy, with Jorma Taccone directing. Michael Starrbury is repped by CAA and Caliber Media.
Related: Sundance: Five Actors & Actresses To Watch
Morgan Creek Productions is doing well in selling offshore rights to Tupac, the biopic of rapper Tupac Shakur that will begin production by the summer with Antoine Fuqua directing. One might think a film about an American rapper who died in 1996 might be a tough sell outside the U.S. Not so. Morgan Creek has sold Canada TV rights to E!, Australia/New Zealand to Hopscotch, UK free TV to BBC, Benelux to Paradiso, Scandanavia to AB Svensk, South Africa to NuMetro, Middle East to Italia Films, Switzerland to Ascot Elite, Greece to Village Roadshow, Taiwan to Studio Solutions Group, India to Italia Films and Iceland to Sam Film. Universal is distributing in the US and Daniel Diamond, MCP’s president of International Sales & Distribution, continues to move territories in Berlin.