Blues breakers: 3 join 'Chess'


Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo and Jon Abrahams will sail the musical waters together in the feature biopic "Chess." Jerry Zaks is directing.

The story chronicles the life of Leonard Chess (Nivola), a self-made music impresario and renowned record company executive who brought blues into the public eye and jump-started the careers of some of the music industry's biggest names, including Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.

Oyelowo will play Waters, while Abrahams will play Phil Chess, Leonard's younger brother who worries when Leonard becomes involved with a singer who has been signed to their label.

The film will compete against Sony BMG Film's "Cadillac Records," which also centers on the rise and fall of Chess' blues label Chess Records. That film stars Adrien Body and Jeffrey Wright and is set to begin production in March.

The script for "Chess" was penned by Peter Wortmann and Bob Conte and is being produced by Jonathan Mitchell, Les Alexander and Andrea Baynes through Checkmate Prods.

Shooting is set to begin April 7 in New Orleans.

Nivola is repped by WMA and Management 360. Oyelowo is repped by ICM, Hamilton Hodell in London and Rigberg Entertainment Group. Abrahams is repped by Gersh and attorney Deborah Klein. Zaks is repped by WMA.