Pix lining up behind Usher

Lions Gate, MGM woo crooner

Singer-thesp Usher will take on his first dramatic vehicle with Lions Gate Films’ “Dying for Dolly,” while MGM is trying to line up another Usher project with “Step in the Name of Love.”

Ron Underwood will direct “Dying for Dolly,” with Emmanuelle Chriqui signed as the female lead. Chazz Palmintieri will also star in the film, which begins production Dec. 12.

Usher will star as the loyal right-hand man to a Mafia don. He’s been assigned to watch over the don’s daughter, but the dad doesn’t know the bodyguard and the girl have long nursed a mutual crush. Chanel Capra wrote the pic.

John Dellaverson and Bill Borden produce, with John Sacchi, Michael Paseornek and Holly Davis-Carter serving as exec producers.

Meanwhile, MGM has drafted Craig Brewer to rewrite “Step in the Name of Love” as an urban “Saturday Night Fever” that Usher would star in and produce.

Brewer will redraft a script by Carl Seaton and Kenny Young, who penned the spec, which the studio bought several months ago. Pic is set in the world of steppin’, a flashy kind of dance reminiscent of swing dancing.

Stephanie Allainand Michael Jenkinson are producing, and Raymond is exec producing with Jonetta Patton and Davis-Carter. Phil James, Nichelle Protho and Yalda Uhls are co-producers.

Usher has had supporting roles in “She’s All That” and “Light it Up.”

Brewer’s gaining kudos for writing and directing “Hustle & Flow,” which has been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival’s dramatic competition. His MGM “Step” deal thus far is for writing only.

Chriqui’s credits include “On the Line,” “Wrong Turn,” “100 Girls” and “Detroit Rock City.”

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