All eyez are on Carl Franklin now. The “Devil in a Blue Dress” director has replaced John Singleton at the helm of “Tupac,” the long-gestating biopic about rapper Tupac Shakur.
Greg Mielcarz, executive vice president of marketing and publicity at Morgan Creek Productions, confirmed to The Times that Singleton left the project over creative differences a few months ago and Franklin has taken over as director.
The film, which has had several false starts over the years, is moving “full steam ahead,” according to Mielcarz. Casting began Monday, and the production is aiming to start in September. Open Road Films will distribute the biopic in the U.S.
Franklin is an actor turned director who has largely worked in TV. His directing credits include episodes of “The Newsroom,” “House of Cards,” “Homeland” and “The Affair.”
The Wrap first reported the news about Franklin replacing Singleton on Tuesday. Afterward, Singleton posted a screenshot of the report on his Instagram account and criticized the film, which he had been attached to on and off for a few years.
“Real talk! The reason I am not making this picture is because the people involved aren’t really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur,” Singleton wrote. The director, who worked with Shakur on the 1993 film “Poetic Justice,” added that he’s “still planning a movie on Tupac.” (When reached by The Times, Singleton’s manager declined to comment.)
Singleton also referenced Morgan Creek’s two-year legal battle with the slain rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who oversees Shakur’s estate. He wrote, “How you gonna make a movie about a man when you suing his mother to get the rights to tell his story?”
In February 2009, Morgan Creek sued Afeni Shakur’s Amaru Entertainment after she demanded extensive creative approval on the film. The parties came to a settlement in 2011 only for the project to suffer another setback when presumptive director Antoine Fuqua departed a few months later.
Mielcarz declined to comment directly on Singleton’s post but said there are “no legal issues outstanding” with Shakur’s estate and the filmmakers have the estate’s “full blessing.” Afeni Shakur is an executive producer on the film.
“Tupac,” written by Jeremy Haft and Ed Gonzalez, is to chronicle Shakur’s life and legacy, including his rise to stardom as a hip-hop artist and actor, his imprisonment for sexual assault, his controversial time at Death Row Records and his involvement in the East Coast-West Coast rap war of the 1990s.
Although Shakur was and remains an iconic figure in the hip-hop world, it’s an open question whether his story will have widespread commercial appeal. Last year a Broadway musical based on his songs, “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” closed after running for less than two months.
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