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MGM grooms Latifah, ‘Honey’ helmer

Vance rewriting Lanier script right before prod'n begins

“Honey” helmer Bille Woodruff is set to direct Queen Latifah in “Beauty Shop,” an MGM comedy that begins shooting in March. The film revolves around the character Latifah plays in “Barbershop 2,” which MGM opens Feb. 6.

Latifah plays Gina, who moves from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter can attend a prestigious music school. She becomes a stylist and, when her scamming boss takes credit for her work, opens her own shop, where her uptown clients clash with those from downtown. Kate Lanier wrote the script, and Norm Vance, who did script work on “Barbershop 2,” is doing a quick rewrite before production begins.

MGM put the film together last year after Latifah established herself as a bankable screen presence with “Bringing Down the House” and her Oscar-nominated perf in “Chicago.”

Woodruff was best known for musicvideos before he directed Jessica Alba in the coming-of-age film “Honey.”

“Beauty Shop” is produced by Mandeville’s David Hoberman, along with Latifah and her partner Shakim Compere and “Barbershop” producers Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr. Mandeville’s Todd Lieberman is exec producing with Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez. MGM’s Elizabeth Cantillon and Erik Baiers are producing the spinoff pic.

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