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Universal Picks Up N.W.A. Biopic From New Line w/ F. Gary Gray Directing. New Writer Hired

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 18, 2013 6:46 PM
7 Comments
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Updates on a project that's long been in development, which may or may not signify genuine progress...


Universal Pictures has hired Jonathan Herman to write the latest draft of the N.W.A. biopic that F. Gary Gray is attached to direct, with former member of the seminal rap group, Ice Cube, producing. 

I actually thought this was already in the can, and in post-production, especially after director Gray shared the above on-set photo late last year, on Twitter, along with the caption:


Dre & F Gary Gray - The NWA Movie kicks off the collaboration! Expect more incredible projects from this powerhouse duo

... Which suggested that production might be underway. 

Apparently, that wasn't the case. Maybe the pair was just scouting locations... or something. 

Gray even posted a casting notice, which we shared HERE, seeking actors to play the film's 5 leads.

Originally set up at New Line, Universal picked up the project in turnaround, with F. Gary Gray still attached to direct - so says The Hollywood Reporter. John Singleton was, at one time, interested in directing.

You'll recall that both Eazy E's son and daughter claimed that they were either in the running, or would be the best fits to play their father in the movie; The son said that there was a "high probability" that he'd play the part; the daughter just wanted her shot. She even created an audition video, demonstrating her chameleon skills, which you can watch HERE.

When asked about all of that, producer Ice Cube said that no promises had been made to anyone regarding casting, and everyone was going to have to earn whatever role is given to them, whether actors or children of the real-life men of NWA who want to play their fathers.

Cube added that none of the real members of NWA will be in the film; not even in cameos apparently.

Also worth noting, Eazy-E's widow, Tomica Woods, who inherited his share of NWA song rights, was also previously said to be involved, as a producer. This was when the project was languishing at New Line. At the time, Andrea Berloff, who wrote the screenplay to Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, was to pen the script. Jonathan Herman (whose only IMDB writing credit is for an erotic short film titled Firepussy) will write a new draft.

But here are a couple of questions for you folks: do any of you really want to see an NWA biopic? Fans of the group are 20+ years older now (myself included, while in high school during those days). And, while I can't speak for others, I can say that I'm not all-that interested in seeing a film based on the the group's story. I enjoyed the music - and even occasionally still blast it from time to time (with its thumping beats, and hard lyrics, it's great to work out with); but that's good enough for me; I'm not keen on seeing a film about them, and I wonder if others from my generation, who grew up with the music, feel the same way. I wonder who the film's target audience will be. I'd go out on a limb and say those under the age of 30 may not even be familiar enough with the group and its music to want to pay $12 to see their lives unfold on the big screen. So what audience is this film being made for? I don't know.

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7 Comments

  • CareyCarey | December 21, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    "I wonder who the film's target audience will be"

    More importantly, what's the nuts and bolts of the storyline? I do not believe NWA, the group, can carry an entire film. I mean, individual members, the least of which is Easy E, have interesting journeys and NWA's music (Chronic) set the world on fire, but as a group, there's not much there. But if the story factors in Suge Knight, the climb of Death Row Records, Interscope, Tupac, Time Warner, Michael "Harry-O" Harris, David Kenner, Godfather Entertainment and the East Coast vs. the West Coast fued, then we may have a movie worth talking about. As it stands, MWA alone has nothing to stand on.

    Btw, Notorious was a terrible movie.

  • E Free | December 20, 2013 11:39 PMReply

    With all due respect to your penultimate sentence, identifying who the audience is is unimportant. The priority is to tell the story. At some point, African Americans need to become chroniclers of their own history. Otherwise, a legacy of revisionists will be delighted to disinform future generations.

  • Dana | December 19, 2013 2:49 PMReply

    I think you are wrong on this one. I think people would want to see it and it will do well. I think that even though this is a group that came out in early '90s , the younger generation will still be able to relate to each one of the members life and struggles. It would also be a great one for the old heads to reminisce about their youth. So it would be good. This group was legendary. So, yes, I do think people would want to see it.

  • Rocket | December 19, 2013 11:38 AMReply

    I think you are underestimating the youth market. That's who this is for. Go to Youtube and look up any 90's rap video related to NWA and their spin offs. The comments sections are filled with self identified teens and young adults claiming not to like the current crop of rappers and holding up 90's gangster/hardcore rap as a standard. NWA has taken on a mythical quality them. It helps that Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Snoop (NWA spinoff artist) have become household names.

    Plus, the individual stories behind the members of NWA are actually pretty interesting. That and the impact of their music (not the music itself) is what will sell this movie.

  • Shanae | December 19, 2013 8:01 AMReply

    I think the biopic, if done EXTREMELY well could be very interesting and it could be something I would be proud to say I supported.

    However, I just don't think the biopic could be anything like Ray or What's Love Got to Do with It, or even Why Do Fools Fall in Love. Maybe it is because this would be a music biopic about a group and not focus on a single individual. I'm not sure.

  • Scripttease | December 19, 2013 12:31 AMReply

    I enjoyed Notorious, so I'm sure this one will be just as enjoyable. It seems I've left a comment like this before..... hum, deja vu perhaps?

  • Kevin Green | December 18, 2013 8:14 PMReply

    I'm from your generation... An inspiring story compels the masses - If it's executed properly, I'm sure it will be like Ray, What's Love Got to Do With It, Walk the Line etc. You don't have to be a hardcore fan to be interested in a great story. I didn't grow up listening to Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, or Ray Charles but i did enjoy the biopics.

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