Universal Pictures is moving forward with an N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, and has tapped Jonathan Herman to pen the latest draft.
Sources say the studio is in the process of picking up the title in turnaround from New Line, which had been developing it for years. F. Gary Gray is attached to helm the project, which traces the roots of the seminal rap group and their rise to fame. Considered one of the most influential acts of the gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop sub-genres,N.W.A. changed rap and pop culture with lyrics highlighting social commentary, leading up to the L.A. riots.
The group’s original members were Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube, who is producing the film with his Cube Vision partner Matt Alvarez. MC Ren joined N.W.A. in 1988, with Arabian Prince decamping later that year. Ice Cube left in December of 1989 over royalty disputes. Several other members launched successful solo careers in the 1990s. Eazy-E died in 1995 due to AIDS-related causes. Also producing are Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods, and Dr. Dre under his Crucial Films banner. Will Packer is executive producing.
Alan Wenkus and Leigh Savidge wrote the original script, which takes place on the violence-plagued streets of L.A.’s Compton neighborhood, and sold it to New Line in 2008 with the music rights attached. They were brought in to do two rewrites. Andrea Berloff penned a subsequent draft of the script.
Universal’s Scott Bernstein and Sara Scott are poised to shepherd the project for the studio.
Herman has been on a roll at Universal, where he most recently was hired to rewrite the psychological thriller Demonologists for Robert Zemeckis‘ ImageMovers. He also wrote an untitled hacker film that Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson are producing that is loosely based on a GQ article titled “The Hacker Is Watching.” Herman also wrote a draft of Universal’s remake of Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds that Platinum Dunes is producing with Mandalay.
He is repped by WME, Stephen Crawford at Industry and attorney Melissa Rogal at Lichter, Grossman.