New Line sets ‘Harder’ to hip-hop

Search is under way for the pic's lead

Stephen Williams will direct a hip-hop remake of 1973 pic “The Harder They Come” for New Line Cinema, with production set for this fall.

Sara Risher will produce the film, in which a small-town singer sets out to make it big in New York’s rap scene and, in the process, becomes a legendary outlaw. Bryan Goluboff (“The Basketball Diaries”) wrote the script.

A search is under way for the pic’s lead. It’s unclear if the choice will be an actor who can sing or a rapper who can act.

The original film starred reggae legend Jimmy Cliff as a rural Jamaican musician who travels to Kingston and, pushed to desperation by devious record producers and crooked cops, achieves notoriety as a fugitive. The plot is loosely derived from the Jamaican folk legend of an outlaw hero during the days of British domination.

Directed by Perry Henzell, “The Harder They Come” was largely improvised on location in Jamaica. Regarded as a cult classic, it introduced reggae music to American audiences. The film’s soundtrack and Cliff’s performance of the pic’s title song still are considered landmarks of the genre.

Risher produced “Heart of Summer” for New Line. That pic, which stars Hilary Duff, is now in post.

A native of Jamaica, Williams is a veteran TV director with credits that include “Soul Food,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Dark Angel.”