Today in history… September 13, 1996… Tupac Shakur died at a Las Vegas hospital at age 25, 6 days after being fatally shot in a driveby shooting that remains unsolved, despite claims by the LAPD and Tupac’s former bodyguard, most recently, that they know who killed him.
So will that Tupac biopic that’s been in development for a few years, ever happen?
Antoine Fuqua’s Tupac project, which seemed like it would be made, appears to be dead. As you might recall, it had been greenlit by Morgan Creek Productions, with shooting expected to begin in September last year, with Oscar-nominated screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Chris Wilkinson (for Ali & Nixon) hired to write the script.
The story would have reportedly center on the last day of Tupac’s life, and included flashback sequences that showed the previous years leading up to his death.
Screenwriter Rivele added that they weren’t interested in showing who killed Tupac, but rather why anyone would want to kill him.
The project had even began casting last spring, with the plan being to go with mostly unknowns. Fuqua said, “That’s the goal… I want to discover someone new… I want to discover a lot of new people if I can. Obviously I’m going to have to put some people in it that you know, just because actors have different skills. I want to go to the streets and find him anywhere he might be in the world.”
However, despite what seemed like forward motion on the project last year, nothing came from all that, and Fuqua eventually left the project.
So where is it now?
Well, this afternoon, I received an email from a trusted source who’s alerted us to a few stories in the past, telling me that the project is still very much alive, adding that a production start date of some time in early 2013 is expected, with Morgan Creek still behind the project, and Wilkinson and Rivele still listed as screenwriters.
The source also noted that Afeni Shakur is co-producing the film.
Here’s its official synopsis, from Morgan Creek:
The film centers on the life and legacy of Tupac Shakur, from his emergence as a young artist, through his imprisonment, and last prolific years that catapulted him into the upper echelon of American cultural icons.
No director is attached yet, although one will be selected and announced soon, which will then be followed by casting.
Shooting will take place primarily in Atlanta.
Universal Pictures will release the film (Morgan Creek distributes its films domestically through a deal with Universal Pictures).
There is also a Tupac Shakur stage musical with Kenny Leon (maybe the most popular black director working on Broadway right now; although there aren’t exactly many of them) helming.
It’ll be titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, the title of a track from 2Pac’s second solo album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
However, it won’t be a Tupac biopic per say; director Leon first mentioned the project last year, while doing press for The Mountaintop (Katori Hall’s award-winning play), stating:
“The idea was always to make a musical inspired by his music and not to do an autobiographical approach to his life or anything like that… And because I always thought that Tupac was a prophet and I thought if everybody could hear his words and hear his stories, they would see what I see.”
Earlier this year Naturi Naughton, revealed that she would be part of the workshop for the project, althugh she didn’t say exactly what her involvement was.
But Leon has continued to talk about it, so I’d say this project is likely going to happen, sometime next year.
Lastly, I should also mention that, last year, it was revealed that Tupac wrote a screenplay – the only one he ever penned – and the rights to that screenplay were acquired by a production team planning to make a filmed version of it.
Titled, Live 2 Tell, the script centers on a teenage drug lord’s efforts to leave the life of crime he leads. Not much else has been revealed thus far.
According to Variety, Tupac wrote the script while he was in jail for a weapons charge, written over an 11-month sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., in 1995; and last May 2011, Preston Holmes and Ivan Juzang’s NStar Studios (who collaborated with Shakur’s mother to make documentary Tupac: Resurrection), acquired the rights to script, with plans to produce a film some time this year, on a budget of $11 million.
Nothing new has developed since that annoucement.