Paramount Pictures and MTV Films have signed Sean “Puffy” Combs to develop a heist action-comedy as a starring vehicle for the music mogul.
The untitled project, to be produced by MTV, Maverick Entertainment Films and Combs’ Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, will be set in Combs’ hometown of Miami during the Miami Grand Prix and will be focused on the fast-paced, multi-cultural side of the city.
Combs, MTV exec VP David Gale and Maverick partner Guy Oseary will produce and are seeking writers and a director.
“This will definitely take a page out of all the great heist movies and return the favor by having two token white guys,” Combs told Daily Variety. “And it will be sophisticated. It won’t be a hip-hop film with guys in do-rags because I’m always trying to break down people’s perceptions and barriers.”
Combs developed the pitch with Oseary and MTV Films VP Heather Parry, who spearheaded the project with Jason Weiss, MTV senior director of development. Paramount exec VP Brian Witten and Eben Davidson will oversee for the studio; Maverick prexy Mark Morgan and inhouse producer Greg Mooradian will shepherd for Maverick.
Combs — hugely successful in the hip-hop music world — will produce the film soundtrack through his Bad Boy record label. He’s collaborated with top music artists such as David Bowie, Usher and Missy Elliot and received solid notices for his thesp turns in “Monster’s Ball” opposite Halle Berry and in “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway.
The deal with Combs is the latest move under Viacom co-prexy Tom Freston and newly installed studio chief Brad Grey to aim Paramount toward younger, hipper audiences by taking advantage of the MTV brand.
Par stunned Sundance on Jan. 23 with a multi-pic deal worth up to $16 million to buy John Singleton’s urban drama “Hustle & Flow.” It’s also signed a production deal with music execs Jimmy Iovine and Paul Rosenberg, who are producing “Locked and Loaded” with rap artist 50 Cent and directed by Jim Sheridan.
Insiders agree that MTV and sister shingle Nickelodeon will become far more active, autonomous and independent. Nick’s two recent films, “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” have performed respectably, as has MTV’s “Coach Carter.”