Rapper Common Heading to Broadway in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE?
According to The New York Post's Michael Riedel, rapper Common (formerly known as Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.) may be heading to the Broadway stage as boxer Jack Jefferson, a role made famous by actor James Earl Jones in Howard Sackler's 1967 play "The Great White Hope." Jones received a Tony Award for his portrayal of the great sportsman, and an Oscar nomination for the film version which followed.
Riedel reports that Common participated in a reading the other week in which producers and investors were present. According to a source, it went well and the rapper was "excellent." In fact, Common is so eager to participate in the project that he has offered to help in the show's financing.
One hurdle which must first be overcome however, is that the play requires a cast of 25, bringing the cost of a full-scale production upwards of $4 million. "I think they'll have to hook up with one of the nonprofits," says a source. "It's something the Roundabout could - and should - do. It's a lot more interesting than putting on 'Cabaret' again."
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Common debuted in 1992, with the album Can I Borrow a Dollar? and maintained a significant underground following into the late 1990s, after which he gained notable mainstream success through his work with the Soulquarians. In 2011, Common launched Think Common Entertainment, his own record label imprint and in the past has released music under various other labels such as Relativity, Geffen and GOOD Music, among others.
Common's first major-label album Like Water for Chocolate, received widespread critical acclaim and tremendous commercial success. His first Grammy Awardwas in 2003, winning Best R&B Song for "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)", with Erykah Badu. Its popularity was matched by May 2005's Be, which was nominated for Best Rap Album, at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Common was awarded his second Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for "Southside" (featuring Kanye West), from his July 2007 album Finding Forever. His best-of album, Thisisme Then: The Best of Common, was released on November 27, 2007.
Common has also initiated a burgeoning acting career, starring significant roles in such films as Smokin' Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, Wanted,Terminator Salvation, Date Night, Just Wright, Happy Feet Two, and New Year's Eve. He also narrated the award-winning documentary Bouncing Cats, about one man's efforts to improve the lives of children in Uganda through hip-hop/b-boy culture. He currently stars as Elam Ferguson on the AMC western television seriesHell on Wheels.