Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Atlanta(n) playing role in Tupac biopic and Broadway musical as two new docs delve deeper into murder conspiracy

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

How long will they mourn me?
  • Courtesy MVD Entertainment Group
  • How long will they mourn me?

This month may have marked the 17th anniversary of his Tupac Shakur's death but his legacy lives. And it looks like Atlanta - and one prominent Atlantan, in particular - will play key roles in forthcoming works to honor him.

The long-delayed biopic on Shakur is set to begin filming in Atlanta next year. Reports confirmed last week that Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla Films will team up to make Tupac. After a series of suits and countersuits between Morgan Creek and Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur, over creative control, the two parties settled in 2011. Afeni will serve as executive producer on the film.

No word yet on the who will be cast in the lead role, but the Internet is already tossing around options - including Anthony Mackie (who portrayed Shakur in the 2009 Biggie biopic Notorious) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station).

On the theater side, Former Alliance Theatre Artistic Director and current True Colors Theatre honcho Kenny Leon will helm the forthcoming Broadway musical Holler If You Hear Me. Rather than a biographical look at Shakur's life, the stage play will use Pac's music to tell "an unconditional love story" and "anti-violence story," Leon recently told The Wall Street Journal blog Speakeasy.

"[Tupac] was just trying to talk about life and say something about the country and being an American and raising a family here," Leon said. Afeni Shakur will produce the show with Eric Gold, Speakeasy reports. Todd Kreidler wrote the book and Wayne Cilento choreographed. The funding has already been raised and the musical has been workshopped three times. The production is currently looking for a home on Broadway.

Of course, Shakur's Atlanta connections were solidified in life and death. He lived here for a time, where he owned a home and infamously shot two off-duty Atlanta cops in 1993. The year before, he gave a keynote address at a banquet for the former Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in Atlanta. (The YouTube footage from that speech is classic.)

Today, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation is based in Stone Mountain and the Atlanta University Center's Woodruff Library houses an extensive Tupac Shakur Collection featuring manuscripts, memorabilia, handwritten poetry, song lyrics, and fan correspondence from the rapper who posthumously has become one of the best-selling artists of all time. (Woodruff Library hosted its first Tupac Shakur Conference in 2012 and plans to host another conference in the future.)

While his life and legacy will be memorialized on stage and screen, the conspiracy theories surrounding his unsolved murder continue. Two new straight-to-DVD documentaries were released this month on the anniversary of his death. Tupac: Conspiracy focuses on the light his former personal bodyguards Frank Alexander and Michael Moore shed on the clumsy investigation of Shakur's murder by Las Vegas Police in 1996. In on-camera interviews, they question the motives of Death Row record label owner Suge Knight and Reggie White, Jr., their employer at the time and the owner of Wrightway Security, the company contracted to provide security for Death Row artists. Wright was also a former police officer with the Compton Police, where his father served as chief.

On the night Tupac was killed, they both allege that they had been told by Wright not to carry their firearms. When Moore refused the order, he says he was taken off of the Tupac detail. After years of speaking out about the alleged conspiracies surrounding his death, both of his former bodyguards are now dead. (Alexander's 2013 death was ruled a suicide.)

The accompanying Tupac: Aftermath serves as a companion piece, featuring interviews with family and loved ones of the slain rapper. The double-feature is available for purchase online.

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