Studio nabs rights to book by Marley's widow

The Weinstein Co. has optioned rights to “No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley,” by the reggae star’s widow Rita Marley, with plans to develop and produce a biopic about the legendary Jamaican singer.

The project is in early development, with a late 2009 release date anticipated.

Published by Hyperion in 2004, book chronicles the couple’s tempestuous marriage, which began in 1966 and weathered numerous separations and affairs, the birth of four children together (Marley may have fathered as many as 22 in all, 10 legally recognized) and an assassination attempt in 1976.

Bob Marley died of cancer at 36 in 1981, and in the book, Rita Marley defends herself against accusations that she financially mismanaged the estate.

“It’s an amazing love story between Bob and Rita,” said TWC’s Michael Cole.

“This is about a girl from the ghetto and a boy from the rural areas,” Marley said. “It’s more than being a superstar — we have trod the rocky roads. It’s more than just a story, it’s a reality.”

Rudy Langlais (“The Hurricane”) will produce the script by Lizzie Borden (“Working Girls”), and Rita Marley will exec produce.

Marley said prior offers and creative teams over the years hadn’t been satisfactory. Warner Bros. had optioned Timothy White’s “Catch a Fire” as the basis of a Marley biopic, which was inked for a 1999 start. At one point, Marley’s son Rohan was being considered for the lead, with Lauryn Hill suggested for Rita’s role.

Film started to fall apart after Ron Shelton, who wrote the adaptation and was its initial director, left the project, as did replacement helmer George Armitage. Producer Jerry Weintraub did overcome one hurdle: He secured rights to Marley’s recordings.

Pic comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that Martin Scorsese will be directing a documentary on Marley with Ziggy Marley co-producing. They hope to have the doc released on Feb. 6, 2010, which would have been Marley’s 65th birthday.

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