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Delayed Tupac Shakur biopic gains steam

Last week marked the anniversary of Tupac Shakur’s death at age 25 due to complications after a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Seventeen years after the prolific rapper’s slaying, a long gestating biopic is another step closer to fruition.

Morgan Creek Productions is teaming with Emmett Furla Oasis Films to co-finance and co-produce the delayed film, “Tupac,” according to Deadline.

The producers are working with a script by Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft, with a new draft expected, and aiming to begin production in February.

In 2011, Morgan Creek was developing the film, with Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Brooklyn’s Finest”) attached to direct, and it launched an online casting call to find a lead to fill the shoes of the polarizing, often-embattled rapper.

RELATED: 'Tupac' biopic launches online casting call for lead role

At the time of the casting call, a draft of the film chronicled Shakur’s prolific rise as a rapper and actor, his legal troubles, his time at Death Row Records and, of course, his 1996 killing, which came at the height of the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry. 

His slaying, like that of peer Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G.), remains unsolved -- although theories about who gunned down the two are among hip-hop’s eeriest mythology.

No word on casting for the film. Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”) famously tackled Shakur’s persona in Wallace’s 2009 biopic, “Notorious.” That film opted for an unknown to play Biggie and landed both a look- and sound-alike in Jamal Woolard -- who ironically rapped alongside Shakur on his seventh posthumously released studio album, 2006's “Pac's Life.”

Producers of the biopic have the rights to Shakur’s extensive music catalog, and his mother, Afeni Shakur, will be a producer on the film.

Follow @GerrickKennedy

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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