T La Rock: Fox to Develop Film About Life of the First Def Jam Artist


Fox developing a film about the life of Def Jam recording artist T La Rock

Fox developing a film about the life of Def Jam recording artist T La Rock

Twentieth Century Fox is developing a film about the life of the first Def Jam recording artist T La Rock. Fox acquired the rights to Joshuah Bearman’s GQ article about the life of T La Rock, upon which the film will be based. Academy Award-nominated producer Mike Medavoy, Joshuah Bearman, Benjamin Anderson, Jake Stein, Josh Davis and Bonnie Timmermann, along with Def Jam founder Russell Simmons will produce the film.  Bearman, who wrote Argo, is a co-founder of Epic Magazine, which has a first-look deal at Fox.

The film will be based on Bearman’s piece The Man Who Forgot He Was a Rap Legend, co-published by Epic Magazine and GQ, about a man who forgot he was a rap legend. It tracks the life of Terrence Keaton who grew up in the Bronx in the ’70s, where he was front and center for the birth of hip-hop. T was a DJ and emcee, and when hip hop crossed the Harlem River, T went with it, preforming around Manhattan and eventually recording the first Def Jam single “It’s Yours.” But in 1994, T stumbled into a street fight where he received a blow to the head and woke up with amnesia in the Haym Salomon Home for Rehabilitation, a kosher facility with a rabbi and five floors of Ashkenazi twilight. Disoriented and far from home, T worked to recover physically and remember who he was before the injury. What begins as a fish-out-of-water story becomes a tale of memory and the malleable nature of identity. In Haym Salomon, T learned that trying to figure out who you are creates an opportunity to decide who you want to be.

“When I first read the story of T La Rock’s life, it really moved me that the first Def Jam artist, with such a promising future, ended up like a fish out of water in a Jewish nursing home surrounded by elderly patients, some of whom were Holocaust survivors. The story struck me as both emotional and funny with their endeavors throughout his stay. Through the help and kindness of these people, and the persistence of his mother visiting every day to try and restore his lost memories, he was able to have the rare chance to take stock of his life and determine a different path as he went out into the world. A chance to live a better life,” said Medavoy.

“T La Rock has always been an inspiration to me and many in the hip hop community,” said Simmons. “This is a man who was literally beaten to within an inch of his life at the height of his fame. How he regained his memory and recovered from his coma while being cared for and surrounded by the most unlikely group of therapists and friends is the kind of hope-filled and hopeful true story that will appeal to everyone, whether you love rap music or not.”

Medavoy and Anderson will produce through their Phoenix Pictures Banner, while Simmons and Stein will produce through their production company DEF Pictures.  Bearman and Davis will produce through Epic Magazine, while Arthur Spector will be oversee the project at Epic.

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