Ice Cube is negotiating to join Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. He is also preparing to shop Chrome and Paint, a gritty Boyz N’ The Hood-style drama that Cube wrote with Eva Vives as a starring and directing vehicle that focuses on custom car culture of South Central Los Angeles. In 21 Jump Street, Cube will play the precinct captain role originated by Steven Williams in the TV series that launched the career of Johnny Depp. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing the pic for Sony Pictures. Cube livens up the cast, but if they are planning to replicate the series plot about undercover cops that infiltrate schools, I’m still waiting to see if they cast anybody that remotely looks like they might be proofed in a bar. Depp was a baby-faced 24 when he started the series: Tatum is 30 and Hill is 27. Shooting begins in late April and Neal Moritz is producing.

Cube will jump into that film after he finishes a role in the New Line romancer New Year’s Eve, matched with Hilary Swank. Cube, who directed the 2010 Oakland Raiders documentary Straight Outta L.A. for ESPN, hasn’t directed a narrative feature since 1998’s The Players Club, which he also wrote. In Chrome and Paint, Cube uses the subculture of tricked out Mercedes, BMW and Low Rider cars to frame a drama about the temptation to place materialism above all else. Cube’s hope is to have his agents at UTA and manager Jeff Kwatinetz set up the project within the next two weeks and shoot in late summer. He’s producing the project with Cube Vision partner Matt Alvarez. Cube and Alvarez are also moving on two projects at New Line: Cube and David O Russell will hire a writer shortly to craft an R-rated Dirty Harry-esque crime film that will team director and star for the first time since Three Kings; and Cube Vision is also producing Straight Outta Compton. World Trade Center’s Andrea Berloff is scripting a biopic of NWA, the politically charged hip-hop group that reflected the growing ire of urban youth in the 1980s and set the tone for gangsta Los Angeles rap culture.