‘Shaft’ shifts to Paramount

John Singleton’s remake of “Shaft” has been moved out of MGM and set up at Paramount Pictures with Scott Rudin producing, sources said. The project should be before the cameras in spring 1998.

The project, which Singleton has scripted and will direct, will be done with a modest budget in the mid-$20 million range. MGM and Singleton were at odds over the budget and other creative issues (Daily Variety, May 13).

Newly named Par production prexy Michelle Manning as well as Par chairman Sherry Lansing, vice chairman Rob Friedman and Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen were credited with deciding to bring the project to the studio.

“I’m glad ‘Shaft’ is at Paramount, and I will be working with a lot of cool people who really get it,” Singleton said. The remake has been a pet project of Singleton’s for several years.

Par and Warner Bros. were both looking to acquire the property, but Par ultimately stepped up to the plate, paying MGM an undisclosed sum.

The project will also be produced by Singleton’s longtime collaborator, Paul Hall.

Gordon Parks’ 1971 “Shaft,” which starred Richard Roundtree as private eye John Shaft (“The cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about”), was one of the most successful films of the so-called blaxploitation genre. The film won a best song Oscar for Isaac Hayes and spawned two sequels. It also launched a TV series.

Singleton is currently directing U’s “Golddiggaz.” His film credits include “Rosewood,” “Boyz N’ the Hood,” “Poetic Justice” and “Higher Learning.”

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