Los Angeles, Calif., January 26, 2011 – Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have formed a joint venture with Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter to develop and produce major motion pictures. One of the projects being discussed is the re-imagination of the classic Broadway musical ANNIE as a vehicle for Willow Smith to star. The film will be developed with Sony Pictures Entertainment and produced by Overbrook Entertainment and Mr. Carter.
The partnership began over dinner with Jada, Will, James Lassiter and JAY-Z, where they decided to co-invest in the now successful beauty products line Carol’s Daughter. They continued this partnership as co-producers of the successful Broadway production Fela!, which earned a total of eleven Tony Award nominations in 2010. Additionally, Willow Smith, managed by OE Executive Miguel Melendez, signed onto JAY-Z’s record label, Roc Nation which produced her first single titled “Whip My Hair,” which has been certified Platinum. JAY-Z previously sampled the classic Annie song “It’s the Hard Knock Life” in his chart-busting single “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”
“The time is right to bring back ANNIE to the big screen. Of course, we’re true believers in Willow’s talent and believe she will be perfect in this role,” said Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad. “Combining Willow with the Overbrook team that reimagined Karate Kid and the spectacular JAY-Z makes this a dream project. A decade ago, JAY-Z proved that the power of the underlying Broadway property remains, by showing how these songs could be reinterpreted for a new generation with Hard-Knock Life. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with our friends at Overbrook as they launch this new venture.”
“We are excited to partner together to develop and produce a wide variety of films with our longtime friend JAY-Z, with whom we share a common global vision, both commercially and philosophically, and look forward to collaborating once again with the incredibly talented executives at Sony,” said Overbrook Co-Founder James Lassiter.
Stated Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, “The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision. We’ve already produced a Tony Award winning play and we’re developing a true superstar in Willow. This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative, and innovative.”
Overbrook Entertainment, founded by partners James Lassiter and Will Smith, is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment focused in film and television and has produced a diverse slate of both critically acclaimed and blockbuster feature films, which have generated more than $2.5 billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts and even more in home video sales. Some of Overbrook’s most successful films include ALI, HITCH, PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, I AM LEGEND, HANCOCK, SECRET LIVES OF BEES, and most recently THE KARATE KID.
Roc Nation is a groundbreaking, multi-tiered, multi-genre music and entertainment company. Founded in 2008 by Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter in collaboration with Live Nation, Roc Nation encompasses artist, songwriter, producer and engineer management; music publishing; touring & merchandising; new business ventures; and a music label.
The Broadway musical “Annie” is based upon the popular comic strip and features songs with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin and a book by Thomas Meehan. The show originally penned on April 21, 1977, and immediately became a hit, winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. In 1982, Columbia Pictures released a film adaptation directed by John Huston and starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, and Aileen Quinn as Annie.