The first artist signed to Def Jam Records will be walking back into the spotlight in a cinematic way. The life of rapper T La Rock, who nearly lost everything at the height of his fame, will be the focus of a new biopic from 20th Century Fox and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons.
The studio recently picked up the rights to the recent profile on T La Rock titled “The Man Who Forgot He Was a Rap Legend,” penned by Joshuah Bearman of GQ. The writeup covers T La Rock’s rise as a groundbreaker in the rap scene, cruelly cut down by a nearly fatal beating, leaving him in a coma. Bearman then tells the story of the rapper’s rehabilitation in a Jewish nursing home in Brooklyn. The nursing home featured an unlikely group of patients, elderly and the home’s caregivers. Simmons said of the rapper:
T La Rock has always been an inspiration to me and many in the hip hop community. This is a man who was literally beaten to within an inch of his life at the height of his fame. How he regained his memory and recovered from his coma while being cared for and surrounded by the most unlikely group of therapists and friends is the kind of hope-filled and hopeful true story that will appeal to everyone, whether you love rap music or not.
According to THR, Simmons will produce alongside Jake Stein under their DEF Pictures banner, Mike Medavoy (“Black Swan”) with his own banner Phoenix Pictures, Benjamin Anderson and Bonnie Timmerman. Bearman, best known for writing the story that inspired “Argo,” co-founded Epic Magazine which has a first-look deal with Fox; he has also signed on as producer with co-founder Josh Davis. Arthur Spector will be overseeing the project for Epic.
Medavoy was shaken by Bearman’s story, leading to his involvement in the project:
…it really moved me that the first Def Jam artist, with such a promising future, ended up like a fish out of water in a Jewish nursing home surrounded by elderly patients, some of whom were Holocaust survivors. Through the help and kindness of these people, and the persistence of his mother visiting every day to try and restore his lost memories, he was able to have the rare chance to take stock of his life and determine a different path as he went out into the world. A chance to live a better life.
No casting details or premiere date have been released. Epic Magazine in repped by UTA, Simmons is repped by WME, and Phoenix is repped by Gang Tyre.