Will Smith, Jay-Z to partner on 'Annie' remake

Afp/Relaxnews / January 28, 2011

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LOS ANGELES—Will Smith's production company, Overbrook Entertainment, plans to partner with rapper and music business impresario Jay-Z with a new film venture, it was announced on January 26.

One of their first projects will be a musical adaptation of Annie. The updated remake of the 1982 film will star Smith's ten-year-old daughter Willow, reports TheWrap.

The 1982 film, based on the comic Little Orphan Annie, follows a young girl in search of her real family. The original film starred Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Tim Curry, and featured the classic song "Tomorrow," as well as "Hard Knock Life," a song Jay-Z has sampled.

According to the Overbrook announcement, the deal emerged from a dinner meeting with Will Smith and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, with rapper Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter and producer James Lassiter.

"The time is right to bring back 'Annie' to the big screen," said Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures/Sony, Overbrook's home base, about this "dream project."

Overbrook Entertainment produced The Karate Kid starring the Smiths' son Jaden. Jay-Z and the Smiths also co-produced the Broadway musical production Fela!, which earned 11 Tony Award nominations in 2010.

Also in discussion is a film adaptation of Fela!, directed by Kennedy Center honoree and choreographer Bill T. Jones, about the Nigerian Afrobeat musician and political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Jay-Z added to the statement, "We've already produced a Tony Award winning play and we're developing a true superstar in Willow."

Last year, Willow Smith enjoyed her first multi-platinum hit single, "Whip My Hair," for Jay-Z's record label, Roc Nation.