'Cool' thesp will play musician in Barclay pic

Andre Benjamin, better known as one-half of the multiplatinum group OutKast, has inked a deal for his first starring vehicle with Sam Nazarian’s Element Films, with Paris Barclay attached to direct.

Benjamin, who records under the moniker Andre 3000, will star in the untitled pic, which was written by Charles and Janice Raiteri. In the film, set in the mid-’70s, he will portray an upper-middle-class musical prodigy who falls in love with a lower-class free spirit who happens to be white. Production is skedded to begin in October in New Orleans.

Teek Films’ Kat Hantas and Chesley Seals produce with Element partners Adam Rosenfelt and Stavros Merjos. Nazarian will exec produce with Baron Davis and Malcolm Petal.

Funding for the untitled Andre Benjamin project comes from the LA2 film fund, which was established last year by Element, the Louisiana Economic Development Corp. and the Louisiana Institute of Film Technology. Petal founded Lift, and Davis became a major contributor to the fund in February.

Benjamin is in production on “Be Cool,” in which he stars opposite John Travolta and Uma Thurman.

Barclay’s feature directing credits include “The Big Time” and “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.” He has directed episodes of “Fastlane” and “The West Wing,” in addition to creating the series “City of Angels.”

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