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Lions Gate takes a ‘Life’

Fishburne's first helm-job gets October release

Lions Gate Films has acquired North American rights to the Shooting Gallery-produced “Once in the Life,” the directorial debut of actor Laurence Fishburne. The indie plans an October release.

“Once in the Life,” a gritty drama centered on brotherhood and friendship, is a cautionary tale about an individual drawn into a life of crime who discovers that “once in the life, always in the life.”

‘Riff Raff’ riff

Fishburne, who also stars in the film with Titus Welliver (“JFK”), Eamonn Walker (HBO’s “Oz”), Dominic Chianese Jr. (“The Thomas Crown Affair”), Paul Calderone (“Girlfight”), Annabella Sciorra (“Jungle Fever”) and Gregory Hines, adapted the screenplay from his own stage play “Riff Raff,” which ran at New York’s Circle Rep Theater.

The film was produced by David Bushell, Helen Sugland and Fishburne; Larry Meistrich and Stephen Carlis are executive producers.

“This is a powerful, passionate urban drama and we are proud that Laurence has entrusted us with his ‘baby,’ ” said Lions Gate Releasing co-president Mark Urman, who acquired the film with co-prexy Tom Ortenberg.

“It was a great pleasure working with Larry Meistrich and the Shooting Gallery,” Fishburne said. “They showed great courage in financing this film. I am also very excited about working with Lions Gate. Their support will be invaluable to the success of the film.”

Celebrated history

Fishburne, who most recently starred in “The Matrix,” was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 for his portrayal of Ike Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” In 1997, Fishburne received an Emmy nomination and a 1998 NAACP Image Award for his starring role in the HBO drama “Miss Evers’ Boys,” which he exec produced.

His film credits include “Othello,” “Event Horizon” and “Boyz N the Hood.”

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