HBO Pix ropes Rhames for Don King biopic

Ving Rhames (“Rosewood,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Pulp Fiction”) has signed to star as controversial boxing promoter Don King in the tentatively titled biopic “Don King” for HBO Pictures.

Film, skedded to begin production later this spring for an October or November debut over the Time Warner cabler, is based on the book, “Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King” by award-winning journalist and New York Post columnist Jack Newfield.

HBO made the deal to adapt the Newfield tome shortly after King negotiated a deal with Showtime Event TV to carry boxer Mike Tyson’s fights exclusively. Executive produced by Thomas Carter from a script by Kario Salem, “Don King” will not by done in coordination with HBO Sports or Time Warner Sports (unlike HBO’s earlier pic “Tyson”).

“This film makes tremendous sense for our audience. King has led a very colorful life and is a larger-than-life figure. His influence has literally changed the face of boxing. And we are fortunate to have found in Ving Rhames an actor whose commanding performances make him uniquely suited to portray King,” Matoian said.

Film will chronicle King’s rise from his life on the streets through his years as a big-time boxing promoter. Cost reportedly is somewhat in excess of HBO’s typical $7 million to $8 million production budget — possibly as much as $10 million.

Matoian says pic is “not a valentine, nor is it a vilification or a vendetta. It’s warts-and-all. But I think when King sees it, he’ll be impressed.”

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