Mary J. Blige to play Nina Simone

Cynthia Mort's film focuses on Simone and her assistant

CANNES -- R&B songstress Mary J. Blige will tune up her jazz vocals after signing to star in Cynthia Mort's "Nina," a movie about legendary singer Nina Simone.

Mort's script focuses on Simone's relationship with her assistant Clifton Henderson, who will be played by David Oyelowo, backers said.

William Morris Endeavor's Global Finance & Distribution Group brought the film to U.K. production, finance and studio facility operator Ealing Studios.

Ealing is financing, producing and selling internationally the $10 million movie scheduled to shoot in the fall this year. WME Global is handling North American rights.

Simone was a singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist.

Mort's resume includes a stint as a writer-producer on TV's "Rosanne" and "Will & Grace" and as creator of "Tell Me You Love Me."