The Bob Marley biopic at Warner Bros., which has seen endless twists and turns, may now be turning into a Marley family affair. After screen-testing Marley’s son Rohan, Warner Bros. is keen on having him play his father. Rohan’s wife, singing sensation Lauryn Hill, is equally keen on playing her mother-in-law, Rita Marley.
Sources close to the film and the couple caution that no deals are in place. While the most famous Marley sibling has been musician Ziggy Marley, Rohan (who has been working with an acting coach), tasted success on a different stage as a defensive player for the U. of Miami Hurricanes.
Coupling the couple onscreen would be a good way for WB to land Hill, the photogenic songstress who was a multiple Grammy winner this year and who won kudos for best R&B and female video at last week’s MTV Video Music Awards. The singer most sought after by Hollywood, she’s been courted for numerous plum roles, ranging from starring with Will Smith in the Carl Franklin-directed WB remake of “A Star Is Born” to joining Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz in “Charlie’s Angels” for Columbia.
Hill, who appeared in 1993’s “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” has been reluctant to commit to a film. This one’s close to the heart, and she recorded a song mixing her voice with Marley’s for a tribute album this fall. She’s also expected to be part of an all-star roster for a Marley tribute concert in December.
The cries of caution by all parties is understandable, given recent setbacks for the pic. For one, the film needs a director. George Armitage (“Grosse Point Blank”) has ankled, after stepping in to rewrite the script and direct. He had replaced Ron Shelton, who spent years researching and writing the script, based on the Timothy White bio “Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley.”
Jerry Weintraub is producing, and WB exec Rob Guralnick continues to steer the project, which has just secured rights (from Island’s Chris Blackwell) to use Marley’s reggae songs. The pic’s team could go back to Shelton or find another director. But it’s likely the project will be developed with input from Marley and Hill, who are repped by William Morris.
SCARY REDOS: With supernatural and horror fare scaring up strong box office, it’s no surprise that bigscreen and TV execs would pore over fright classics for redos. Seven Arts has just signed Anthony Hickox to direct a $25 million feature remake of “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” Hickox, who’s repped by William Morris and Tollin/Robbins Management, is a veteran horror guy whose credits include “Hellraiser 3” and “Waxwork.”
Seven Arts, which has a first-look deal with Paramount, has the $25 million financing in place and envisions a teen pic done as soberly as “Dawson’s Creek,” with the added hormonal teen dilemma of the protagonist hairing over and growing sharp teeth at inopportune moments. (Michael Landon played the wolf boy in the 1957 original.)
On the TV side, Michael Preger’s Preger Entertainment has acquired small-screen rights from Universal to the John Wyndham sci-fi novel “The Midwich Cuckoos,” which was turned into “Village of the Damned,” the 1960 British pic about deadly kids who turn out to be aliens. John Carpenter remade it in 1995, and Preger, who produced that remake, has signed scribe-director Tom Holland to turn it into a miniseries. Holland’s fright flick credits include “Child’s Play,” “Stephen King’s The Langoliers” and “The Temp.” Preger Entertainment director of development Steven Siebert will be the production exec.
Preger’s also working with Holland on a steamy adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s “God’s Little Acre,” and a feature remake of “Day of the Triffids,” the adaptation of the Wyndham novel about an outbreak of intelligent plants spreading across the globe. While they would ease global warming, the plants will also weed out the human population and take over the planet.
Preger has also signed “Chicago Hope” vets Bill D’Elia and John Tinker to adapt “Meeting Evil,” Thomas Berger’s psychological thriller about a real estate salesman who meets a stranger and becomes an unwitting participant in a crime spree. Preger and Holland are repped by Laurence Becsey of Becsey, Wisdom, Kalajian and attorney Wayne Alexander. UTA reps D’Elia and Tinker.
CBS, VIACOM IN ROCK DUET: The synergistic relationships are crystallizing in the altared state between Viacom and CBS. The web’s working a deal with VH1 on its miniseries “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” for which the music cabler will run about 100 promo spots to pump the mini for its Nov. 7-10 CBS broadcast.
VH1 will then get to air “Shake” six to 12 times over a six-week period. One reason behind the massive promo and repeat airings will be to turn the soundtrack into a big seller. The soundtrack, done with MCA Records, will be in record stores in October, and will be promoted for online purchase during each broadcast of the mini.