‘Learning’ inks Epps

Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday.

Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for the role of Malik.

“Six Degrees of Separation” star Will Smith’s name also surfaced briefly for the part.

Pending finalization, sources said, Epps will join an ensemble cast including rapper/actor Ice Cube (Singleton’s “Boyz N the Hood”), Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Rappaport, Kristy Swanson and Regina King. Columbia reps declined comment.

“Higher Learning” is billed as a college piece in which the sensibilities of “Nashville” meet “Boyz N the Hood,” although the filmmaker is keeping most details under wraps.

Epps is repped by Raelle Koota and Lorrie Bartlett from the Gersh Agency. The 22-year-old Shakur reportedly exited the “Higher” race after two recent legal incidents that sources said could have become a liability for the pic.

In November, Shakur was charged with aggravated assault in Atlanta for allegedly shooting two off-duty police officers. Later that month, a New York criminal court indicted him and two friends on charges of sexually attacking a 20-year-old woman in Shakur’s Manhattan hotel room.

“Higher” is produced by Singleton and Paul Hall, with Dwight Williams as co-producer.

More Film

  • Mark Duplass

    Mark Duplass Apologizes for 'Disaster' Tweet Praising Ben Shapiro

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Enter The Dragon Bruce Lee

    How Bruce Lee's Star Rose in the U.S. After His Death

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Second Act

    Jennifer Lopez Reinvents Her Life in 'Second Act' Trailer

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Vanessa Kirby photographed by Neil Krug

    'The Crown' Star Vanessa Kirby on 'Colorful' Princess Margaret, 'Mission: Impossible'

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Lionsgate Nominates Susan McCaw, John Malone's

    Lionsgate Nominates Susan McCaw and John Malone's Nephew Daniel Sanchez for Board

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Nashville Looks to Keep Film, TV

    Welcome to Nashville: The New Scoring Destination

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

  • Coming to America The Carol Burnett

    Who Makes Cedric the Entertainer Laugh? Get a Pen

    Omar Epps, who starred in “The Program,” will take on a key role in “Higher Learning,” helmer John Singleton’s next Columbia Pictures outing, sources said Thursday. Epps — who came to prominence in the 1992 inner-city gangster pic “Juice”– replaces rapper/actor (and fellow “Juice” thesp) Tupac Shakur, who was previously eyed by the studio for […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content