‘Pygmalion’ rapped up

Simmons, Lathan signed to HBO pilot

NEW YORK — Hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and director-producer Stan Lathan (“The Steve Harvey Show”) have signed a deal with HBO to exec produce a pilot retelling the “Pygmalion” tale with a contemporary twist.

Jamal Joseph (“New York Undercover”) will pen the script that chronicles the transformation of a young black singer from the streets into a pop/rap music diva. Lathan, who has directed pilots for “Moesha,” “Martin” and “The Parkers,” may also helm this untitled pilot.

“It is the story of a modern-day music mogul — based on a composite of top CEOs and executives at the major labels — who acts as a mentor and molds a young woman into a star,” said Lathan. “We promise to offer a revealing look behind the closed door of the music industry.”

The pilot is the latest collaboration between the pay cable network and the team of Lathan and Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and chairman and CEO of Rush Communications. The duo created “Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam” for HBO.

Lathan and Simmons recently exec produced “It’s Black Entertainment,” a special for Showtime that Lathan also directed — the latest in a long list of projects on which the two have teamed.

The duo is working on a four-hour miniseries profiling the early years of Simmons’ career as a rap promoter. Written by Joseph, the mini is slated to air on Fox this fall.

Carolyn Strauss, senior VP of original programming, will oversee the pilot for HBO. CAA and Nina Shaw negotiated the deal with HBO on behalf of Simmons and Lathan.

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