Latifah, Story hail ‘Taxi’ remake at Fox

Besson penned original, set to produce new version

Twentieth Century Fox has set Queen Latifah to star in the English-language remake of “Taxi,” and has hailed “Barbershop” helmer Tim Story to direct the action comedy. Studio is eyeing an early fall start in New York.

Produced by Luc Besson, “Taxi” will be the Americanized version of the Besson-penned French hit about a pizza delivery boy turned cab driver whose ability to get to places quickly makes him the perfect chauffeur for a cop who’s trying to head off a group of bank robbers.

After Latifah toplined “Bringing Down the House” and was Oscar nommed for “Chicago,” Fox brass came courting with the offer to change the driver’s gender to make Latifah part of the buddy formula (Daily Variety, April 1).

Tina Chisolm, whose credits include “Drumline” and who’s adapting the Halle Berry vehicle “Nappily Ever After” for producer Marc Platt and Universal, has been brought in to do a rewrite of the script. Fox is looking to land a male star to play the cop.

Latifah has parlayed her bankability by making several deals that include developing “Beauty Shop,” a spinoff of Story’s “Barbershop.”

Story, who passed on doing the “Barbershop” sequel that will launch Latifah’s character, is developing the DreamWorks comedy “Date School,” the Universal Playtone pic “Society Cab” and the Imagine pic “Ralph.”

WMA reps Latifah and Story.