Death Row Records moves into movie biz

New film division to shoot 'Sons 2 the Grave' in Toronto

TORONTO -- Newly resurrected rap label Death Row Records is expanding into film production.

Death Row Records CEO Lara Lavi said her new Death Row Films division is set to shoot "Sons 2 the Grave" in Toronto in October, with Tonya Lee Williams, Dorian Harewood, K.C. Collins ("Flashpoint") and child actor Cameron Miles Jones on board.

The indie hood drama, written and produced by Lynn Stoltz and near to signing a director, features Collins as a young basketball phenom returning to an embattled inner-city ghetto after two gunshots cut short his dream of an NBA career.

"This film embodies what we're trying to do with Death Row, to tell human stories that don't always have happy endings, and that allow us to learn from violence and disenfranchised lives, but not glorify it," Lavi said.

WIDEawake Entertainment Group, Lavi's Toronto-based shingle, acquired Death Row Records out of bankruptcy in January for $18 million.

Death Row Films will tap the rap label's catalog to score "Sons 2 the Grave," before moving on to other projects.

"We're looking at film properties that relate to "Boyz n the Hood"-type stories, and to power the films with Death Row music," Lavi said.

She added the Death Row library, which includes iconic songs and albums by Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Danny Boy, is barely exploited.

"We're sitting here with 10,000 masters, of which only 10%-15% have been released to the public," she said.

Death Row Records is licensing its songs to film, TV, video game and advertising producers, including to EA Games, and the "CSI" and "Cold Case" TV series.

Music publisher Evergreen Copyrights is providing worldwide administration for the rap label.

And Death Row Records is also to rerelease on Sept. 1 Dr. Dre's "The Chronic." "The Chronic Re-lit" collectors disc will feature 16 original songs and seven new tunes, and unreleased video of Dre and other artists.

Death Row is also readying boxed sets of unreleased master recordings for the holiday season.