Spike Lee‘s controversial and upcoming film “Chiraq” is an ambitious undertaking: a musical comedy and a play on the classic Greek tale “Lysistrata.” It’s controversy stems from the movie’s title; the slang nickname given to the city of Chicago because of its violent history and crime rates as one of America’s most dangerous cities. The story focuses on a woman who strives to end gang warfare in the city.
But one thing that’s off about original reports is that musician/rapper/fashion enthusiast and former Chi-town resident Kanye West will star in the movie. Apparently he’s not. A statement given to EW reads, “Contrary to published reports, Kanye West will not be starring in Chiraq. However, there are discussions for West’s possible involvement in the film’s soundtrack, schedule permitting.”
Perhaps Lee and West had some early discussions, but the rapper’s upcoming 2015 album Swish is due relatively soon with tours presumably to follow, so perhaps this is why West had to bow out. Knowing West’s busy schedule, don’t expect a full score, but maybe a song contribution here or there?
Meanwhile, as Lee prepares to shoot the movie in Chicago he is under intense scrutiny by the city and people of the Windy City who are very concerned with how he is going to pain the city still marred by violence. At a press conference today, Lee urged Chi-Town citizens to not prejudge the movie. “I love Chicago,” Lee said (via Chicago Sun Times), speaking at St. Sabina Church. “Wait until the movie comes out. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but see it first.”
Lee promised a respectful movie and added. “People are acting like they’ve never seen any of my films. Everything I’ve done has led up to this film.” John Cusack, also starring in the film, and a native of Chicago quipped, “I am 100 percent sure the great city of Chicago can survive a film of conscience just like it did [the film] ‘Transformers.’ I love my city of Chicago — all of Chicago — and I’d never do anything to hurt it.”
Zing on the Michael Bay joke, Cusack. Well played. Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven and Common round out the cast so far.