Actor Morgan Freeman Set to
Release Hip Hop Musical 'Colors'

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- MGM, the studio known for such classic musicals as "Singin' in the Rain" and "An American in Paris," is mounting a contemporary hip-hop-themed musical titled "Colors Straight Up," based on the Oscar-nominated documentary by Michele Ohayon. Morgan Freeman (news)'s Paramount Pictures-based Revelations Entertainment is producing, with Freeman expected to take one of the strong supporting roles in the film.

"Colors," penned by Bob Doleman, is near a green light at MGM with a tentative start date of June 23. The project tells the story of two male teachers -- one white and one black -- who overcome their personal differences to teach kids from Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood to come together using music and drama at a performing arts center for inner-city youth.

Freeman would star as one of the teachers, with the other role still uncast. Producers -- hoping to find unknown and fresh faces to fill the roles of the teens, who are really the stars of the movie -- are expected to launch a 10- to 12-city talent search to cast the film, sources said.

"Colors" is based on Ohayon's 1997 docu that tracked Colors United, a nonprofit organization that teaches inner-city kids music and drama, culminating in a performance of the musical "Watts Side Story." Her film also racked up noms at the Independent Spirit Awards and DGA Awards in 1998.

Producing the feature film are Howard Koch Jr., Ohayon, Ann Marie Gillen and Revelations CEO Lori McCreary. Freeman will take an executive producer credit. At the studio, the project is being overseen by executive vp production Toby Jaffe and vp production Eric Paquette.

Revelations and Freeman are repped by WMA. Freeman next stars in "Dreamcatcher," opening Friday, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment, followed by "Bruce Almighty" from Universal Pictures. Revelation's upcoming projects include Sony Pictures Classics' "Levity," starring Freeman alongside Billy Bob Thornton (news), Holly Hunter (news) and Kirsten Dunst (news).

Ohayon, who will make her narrative feature debut on "Colors," is repped by manager Gary Ungar at Exile Entertainment and attorney Todd Stern. She directed the Jodie Foster (news)-narrated docu "It Was a Wonderful Life."

MGM also is developing several other music-themed projects, including a Cole Porter project and the Bobby Darin (news) biopic to be directed by Kevin Spacey (news), who also stars. Its United Artists specialty arm is also producing the music-themed "Romance and Cigarettes," to be helmed by John Turturro (news).

courtesy Hollywood Reporter.. written by Chris Gardener