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Prince: Back to the Movies

Prince has the movie bug again.

After returning to the top of the charts with his music for the box-office smash “Batman,” the renegade pop star wants to return to making his own films.

Prince has four properties in development under his Paisley Park Films, said his manager, Albert Magnoli, who directed Prince’s first--and most successful--film, 1984’s “Purple Rain.”

The two projects that are furthest along are “Graffiti Bridge"--an original, “street-oriented” musical in the vein of “Purple Rain"--and “The Robert Johnson Story.” Plans call for Prince to star in both films and for Magnoli to direct.

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“The Robert Johnson Story” is a biography of the legendary blues musician who was killed under mysterious circumstances at the age of 21 in 1937. The Rolling Stone Record Guide describes Johnson as “the greatest practitioner of the country-blues genre.”

The two other properties in development are “The Dawn” and the “Dark of the Moon,” which are also described as “street-oriented” musicals. All four films would be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Prince has appeared in three films to date. He followed “Purple Rain” with the box-office bomb “Under the Cherry Moon” and the critically lauded concert film “Sign o’ the Times.”

With this emphasis on film making, don’t hold your breath waiting for Prince’s next studio album. The performer intends to complete production chores on albums by Morris Day and a new group, Flash, and then tour the U.S., Europe and Japan next February through August, but has no plans to record another studio album.

Prince, the Los Angeles-based Magnoli suggests, has tired of playing the chart game and wants to write songs that are part of a larger context.

“What we would like to do is write music for a purpose,” said Magnoli, who has represented Prince since January when the latter ended a long-term association with the Los Angeles-based management firm of Cavallo, Ruffalo and Fargnoli. “Prince is looking for a vehicle such as a motion picture or a Broadway production with a particular set of themes and attitudes and emotions which music could then be written for.”

Prince’s plan is radical in an industry in which artists are hardly ever more than one album away from a regular studio album.

“I don’t think we need to be tied to any convention,” said Magnoli, 35. “As an artist one needs to take challenges. Having the opportunity to work in other areas that you have a gift for but wouldn’t necessarily have an opportunity to work in can only enhance your artistry.”

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Magnoli, who directs Paisley Park Enterprises--a broad-based, Minneapolis area entertainment company owned by Prince--said that it’s only coincidental that Prince’s last studio album before what may well be an extended hiatus was a commercial disappointment. The 1988 album, “Lovesexy,” was his first release in seven years to miss the Top 10.

Said Magnoli, “That’s a short-term consideration. We’re thinking long-term. The ‘Batman’ sound track was part of a long-term plan. In January, we sat down and formulated in our minds where we wanted to be artistically and where we wanted Paisley Park to be in the industry in the next five years and the next 10 years. And the ‘Batman’ sound track was a step towards those goals.”


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