He’s backed by Emimem and Dr. Dre. He’s received a $1 million advance from Interscope Records for his first album. He’s been shot 9 times. Even though the first commercial album from rapper 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” only hits retail outlets today, he’s following the path of his mentor in moving towards the medium of film. Whereas it took the white rapper Eminem three albums before he committed to making his mark on celluloid, sources close to FilmJerk.com confirm that 50 Cent has agreed to star with Busta Rhymes in “Blood Money,” which begins lensing in Los Angeles beginning in March.
Not bad for the soon-to-be rap superstar (in real life, he’s 26 year old Curtis Jackson of Queens, NY), whose album is expected to top the charts in the first week as it receives the loudest amount of hype for a 2003 release so far. As there have been many threats on his life recently (he was in Jam Master Jay’s studio October 30th recording for his upcoming album when the Run DMC deejay was murdered) he better not leave home without his trademark bulletproof vest.
“Blood Money” focuses on Joshua Pope (to be played by Busta Rhymes, coming off glowing reviews for his turn in “Narc”), who returns to Alabaster County, Alabama, to claim his inheritance after the death of his father, and finds more trouble than any one man deserves in his life. The local law enforcement authorities have turned the Sheriff’s office into a front for protection and prostitution, ruling through fear and intimidation. But when Pope arrives in town, the sheriff senses trouble, and he sends his minions to assassinate Pope before he can cause any more trouble. Calling on his old buddy Duncan (to be played by 50 Cent), who now heads a posse of chopper-riding outlaws, they fight to reclaim their own stomping grounds- through any means necessary, of course. But once that happens, Pope is drawn into a confrontation with his Duncan, who takes over the reigns from Wallace when he takes over the police department and proves to be an even worse antagonist.In additional news, casting calls for the film’s other parts were released earlier this week. Producers are looking to fill out the rest of the primary cast, including:
- One of the main antagonists, Sheriff Bo Wallace, who is a heavyset man with beady eyes and in his 50s to 60s. The Sheriff of Alabaster County, he is dirty and corrupt – but he realizes he’s living the good life and has fun with it, too. When Wallace realizes that Pope is mobilizing against him and his crooked deputies, he sends his minions to assassinate Pope before he can cause any more trouble.
- Simone Banks, described as “a fireball of a woman, sexy and exotic.” An intelligent single mother with a sharp-tongued 10-year-old boy, Simone has already been abandoned by one smooth talker, and she has no intention of being blinded by the charms of Pope. But she can’t help herself from falling for the handsome stranger. Aware that her town is corrupt and dangerous, Simone watches in admiration and love as Pope does what needs to be done in order to clean up Alabaster County. She is listed as being in her 20s to early 30s.
- A cantankerous and irritable creature of habit, “Sleepy” Nelson is the manager of the Cadberry Arms, the tenement hotel inherited by Pope. Somewhere in his 30s to 50s, he spends most of his time asleep in front of his portable TV. But Sleepy is forced to wake up when Pope takes over – because the gunfire starts right away. A sharp-eyed old widower who misses his dead wife, Sleepy is having a clandestine affair with Ma Dukes, another resident of the hotel. A man with an encyclopedic knowledge of old Westerns, Sleepy recognizes Pope as the classic “good man who rides in to clean up a dirty town,” and treats him with friendship and respect.
- Willie Johnson, a bug-eyed, energetic fellow, is the smallest member of Duncan’s posse. Chattier and more aggressive than the others despite his size, Willie has a chip on his shoulder, and is a troublemaker who regularly provokes confrontations. An expert with munitions and explosives, Willie knows that Duncan keeps him around for fun, and this fact only makes him more irritable. After Duncan eliminates Wallace, Willie is quick to start trouble between Duncan and his old buddy Pope. And when Pope decides to start a shooting war, Willie is one of the first to be gunned to death.
- With a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue, Ma Dukes is one of the tenants at the Cadberry Arms. Having known Pope’s father very well, Ma Dukes is delighted to see Pope when he comes to town – because she’s got a lot of complaints. A sharply observant lady who tells it like it is, she watches with glee as Pope begins his one-man war against corrupt Sheriff Bo Wallace, and delights in Wallace’s downfall. But when Duncan turns out to be the new boss, Ma Dukes fears that Pope has bitten off more than any one man can chew.
- Carmichael McCloud is a deputy sheriff in Alabaster County, Wallace’s second in command. In charge of running the red light district, McCloud also assists with the protection racket in town. A wholly unscrupulous, very dirty cop, not as bright or as intimidating as Sheriff Wallace, McCloud is the kind of guy who’s really tough as long as he has an army of goons behind him, protecting him from real danger. McCloud is ordered to spy on Pope when Bo realizes that he has a nemesis in town. But McCloud thinks he’s untouchable – until he’s kidnapped by Pope and Duncan and shot to death.
- An ex-boxer who now runs the local barbershop in town, Ernest Caldwell is strong and stout, despite his 50-plus years of age. Once the middleweight champion, Ernest now has to tolerate the shakedown racket run by Wallace. The man whose barbershop is the center of town gossip, Ernest approves highly when Pope takes decisive action, killing three of Bo’s goons, and refuses to inform on Pope. Later, Ernest watches on as Pope and Duncan make war on Wallace and McCloud – but when Duncan and his outlaws take over the police department, Ernest suffers in silence as the protection racket gets even worse.
- Ezekiel Russaw, described as “a spindly man dressed in an ill fitting suit,” is the town undertaker. A scary-looking man whose presence frightens even Pope, Ezekiel finds that his business is picking up ever since Pope has come to town. Appearing whenever there are a few corpses on the ground, Ezekiel is grateful to Pope for his assistance in making ends meet, and lets Pope in on a few secrets about his father’s death.
Alabaster Productions will be the production company behind this film, and there are no indications which studio will invariably pick this up for distribution because of the talent so far attached. Directing will be mink (born Christopher Morrison), who has directed videos for artists including Master P, C-Murder, Lucy Pearl and the West Coast Bad Boys and many others. Prior to directing videos himself, mink worked closely with directors Hype Williams and Paul Hunter in a variety of production capacities with artists ranging from Busta Rhymes, J-LO, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Jay-Z, TLC-over 250 music videos over the course of three years. He’s not all that green beyond the camera, although this marks his first full-length release beyond the camera.
Because of 50 Cent’s involvement primarily, this could be a major box office winner when it hits multiplexes.
Producer: Preston Holmes
Screenwriter: Michael McCants
Start Date: March 3, 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Production Company: Alabaster Productions