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9/08/2005

 
UNIVERSAL PICTURES ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS TO HBO FILMS UNTITLED ORIGINAL MUSICAL STARRING GRAMMY-WINNING ARTISTS OUTKAST

ANDRE BENJAMIN AND ANTWAN PATTON STAR IN LEAD ROLES;
ALSO STARRING VING RHAMES, TERRENCE DASHON HOWARD, FAIZON LOVE, MALINDAWILLIAMS, PAULA PARKER, JACKIE LONG, PAULA PATTON AND PATTI LABELLE;
WITH MACY GRAY, BEN VEREEN AND CICELY TYSON

AWARD-WINNING BRYAN BARBER MAKES THEATRICAL
FEATURE FILM DIRECTING DEBUT

TONY-WINNER HINTON BATTLE CHOREOGRAPHS
DANCE SEQUENCES

Universal City, CA, September 08, 2005 Universal Pictures has acquired worldwide distribution rights to HBO Films untitled original motion picture musical starring multi-platinum and Grammy-winning LaFace/Zomba Label Group artists OutKast, it was announced today. OutKasts Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton both star in the film, which will feature new songs from the duos next album, which will be a soundtrack album. Bryan Barber, the award-winning director and longtime OutKast music video collaborator, makes his feature film directing debut on the film. The films soundtrack will feature all new songs by OutKast and will be released on LaFace/Zomba Label Group in the fourth quarter of 2005. Universal Pictures will wide release the film in 2006.

Seeing a very rough cut of this film was an incredibly exciting experience, announced Adam Fogelson, President, Universal Pictures Marketing and Eddie Egan, Co-President, Universal Pictures Marketing. We very much wanted to be part of bringing this film to a wide audience, and were delighted to be partnering with HBO Films and Charles Roven.

Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton are artists without parallel on the cultural landscape, said HBO Films President Colin Callender. Together with director Bryan Barber, their videos have taken the synthesis of music, cinema and style to a whole new dimension. We are proud and excited that they have chosen to work with HBO to bring their unique vision of an original musical to the screen, and we are delighted to be working with Universal Pictureswhose unbridled enthusiasm for the film promises to turn this into a major motion picture event.

It was a pleasure collaborating with Bryan Barber and OutKast in 2002, and I knew then that their talents would translate across all creative mediums. I am thrilled we at Mosaic were given the opportunity to work with them again and to help make this project a reality, said producer Chuck Roven.

Set amidst the backdrop of a 1930s southern speakeasy, the film follows two characters, Percival (Andre Benjamin), the clubs piano player, and Rooster (Antwan Patton), the clubs lead performer and manager, through intersecting stories of love and ambition.

The cast also includes Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible), Terrence Dashon Howard (Hustle & Flow), Faizon Love (Elf), Malinda Williams (Soul Food), Paula Jai Parker (She Hate Me), Jackie Long (Lovewrecked), newcomer Paula Patton and legendary recording artist Patti LaBelle (On the One). Also cast in the film are singer Macy Gray (Training Day), Tony Award winner Ben Vereen (Why Do Fools Fall In Love) and Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Cicely Tyson (Fried Green Tomatoes).

The as-yet-untitled film was shot on location in Wilmington, North Carolina and at Universal City, CA.

Universal Pictures and HBO Films Present A Mosaic Media Group and Forensic Films Production. The screenplay is written by Bryan Barber, and the dance sequences are choreographed by legendary performer and three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle. Mosaics Charles Roven (Batman Begins) and Robert Guralnick serve as producers. William Green and Forensic Films Robin OHara and Scott Macaulay are the executive producers, and Andre Benjamin, Antwan Patton, Michael Blue Williams, Bryan Barber and Erika Conner are co-producers. Keri Putnam, senior vice president, HBO Films, is the executive in charge of the project.

OutKasts fifth album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has been certified diamond in the U.S. and won three Grammy Awards last year, including Album of the Year and Best Rap Album. The disc also had several top hits including Hey Ya, The Way You Move and Roses.

OutKast launched their career with the infectious single Players Ball, which lead to a record deal. Their first three disks, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens and Aquemini have each sold more than a million copies. Their 2000 release Stankonia went triple platinum in only 12 weeks and produced the hit singles Bombs Over Baghdad and Ms. Jackson.

Andre Benjamins acting credits include the current hit Four Brothers, Be Cool and for television, The Shield. He will launch his own clothing line next year.

Antwan Patton has appeared in acting roles on televisions Martin and as a featured voice in the MTV series Volcano High, about a teenager with special martial arts skills, and in two episodes of Comedy Centrals Chappelles Show.

Ving Rhames received a Golden Globe for Best Actor for the title role in HBOs Don King: Only in America. He starred in both Mission: Impossible films and is currently shooting the third in the series. His additional credits include Dawn Of The Dead, Out of Sight, Striptease, Con Air, Bringing Out the Dead, Dave, Rosewood and his breakthrough role as Marsellus Wallace in Quentin Tarantinos cult indy film, Pulp Fiction.

Terrence Dashon Howard has starred in a wide array of films including Four Brothers, Hustle & Flow, Crash, Ray, Harts War, Big Mommas House, Butter, The Best Man and HBOs acclaimed Boycott and Lackawanna Blues.

Faizon Love has starred opposite Will Ferrell in the blockbuster Elf and has also been seen in Blue Crush, The Fighting Temptations and Wonderland.

Malinda Williams is best known for her television role as Tracy Bird Van Adams in Soul Food, for which she garnered a NAACP Image Award nomination. In addition to her other television roles on Roc and My So-Called Life, Williams has also starred in such feature films as A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and The Wood, as well as HBOs Dancing In September and Laurel Avenue.

Paula Jai Parkers film credits include Spike Lees She Hate Me, Phone Booth, High Crimes, Get On the Bus, Friday, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and HBOs Always Outnumbered.

Jackie Longs credits include African-American Idol: The Search for the Next Black Leader, Roommates and Playas Ball. He will soon be seen in the romantic comedy Lovewrecked, starring Amanda Bynes, Chris Carmack, Jamie-Lynn DiScala, NSYNCs Lance Bass, Kathy Griffin and Fred Willard.

Newcomer Paula Patton has been seen in this years smash comedy Hitch, starring Will Smith.

Vocalist Patti LaBelle is a legend in R&B and gospel music. Winner of two Grammy Awards for Burnin and for her performance in Live! One Last Night, LaBelle is also the recipient of the 1993 American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist. Among her long list of hits are the 1975 version of Lady Marmalade, her duet with Michael McDonald, On My Own, My Love, Sweet Love from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, and the smash hits New Attitude and Stir it Up from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. LaBelle has also performed in the films Carlitos Way, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Bruce Almighty, and appeared in the popular television series, A Different World, The Nanny and Roseanne. She was most recently seen in On the One alongside Eartha Kitt.

Singer Macy Grays debut album, On How Life Is was certified triple platinum by the RIAA and her hit single, I Try won a Grammy in 2000. In 2003, she released her third disk, The Trouble With Being Myself, and last year a greatest hits compilation, The Very Best Of Macy Gray. She has composed songs for the television show Miss Match as well as the feature films The Sweetest Thing and Spider-Man. Gray received critical acclaim for her role in Training Day, and she also appeared in the films Mona Lisa Smile, Around the World in 80 Days and Scary Movie 3. Additionally, she has appeared in HBOs Lackawanna Blues and in The Crow: Wicked Prayer.

Legendary actor, singer and dancer Ben Vereen won the Tony Award for his performance in Pippin. His extensive stage career includes Im Not Rappaport, Hair, Jellys Last Jam and Jesus Christ Superstar, for which he was also nominated for a Tony. His television credits include HBOs Oz, Fosse, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, The Jesse Owens Story and the seminal miniseries Roots. Mr. Vereen is currently starring on Broadway as the Wizard of Oz in Universal Pictures smash Broadway hit Wicked.

Celebrated actor and teacher Cicely Tyson won an Emmy and was nominated for a BAFTA for her memorable title role in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Tyson also won an Emmy and was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for her role in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and won an Emmy for her portrayal of Coretta Scott King in the miniseries King. She received an Academy Award nomination and won a Golden Globe for her role in Sounder. Her extensive career also includes the film Fried Green Tomatoes and the television credits Roots, The Rosa Parks Story, Ms. Scrooge, A Woman Called Moses, Heat Wave and HBO Films Always Outnumbered and A Lesson Before Dying, for which she received nominations for both an Emmy as well as an NAACP Image award.

Bryan Barber has directed many of OutKasts videos including Hey Ya, which was Grammy-nominated for Best Short Form Video last year, and which was previously honored with four MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year, Best Hip Hop Video, Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction. His previous collaborations with OutKast include The Way You Move and Roses from their disc Speakerboxxx/Love Below. He was honored by his peers in London in May 2004, when he won three Music Video Production Awards (MVPA) for Hey Ya, including Video of the Year. Canadas MuchMusics Awards honored him with two wins for Hey Ya for Video of the Year and Best Hip Hop Video. His diverse slate of projects includes directing videos for Bow Wow, Faith Evans, Destinys Child, Anastacia, G-Unit, Nelly Furtado, Ludacris, Macy Gray, Kelly Clarkson, Missy Elliott and JC Chasez. His striking video work has put him in high demand for commercials, including Victorias Secret and Sunkist.

Hinton Battle won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in Sophisticated Ladies, Miss Saigon and The Tap Dance Kid, which was also honored with an NAACP Image Award and The Fred Astaire Award. His esteemed career started early in his life when he received a scholarship to attend The School of American Ballet where he studied under George Balanchine. At the age of 15, he made his Broadway debut playing the Scarecrow in The Wiz. His additional stage credits include Ragtime, Dancin, Dreamgirls and Chicago. He also founded the non-profit organization Hinton Battle Theatre Laboratory to develop ethnically diverse theater projects. His television credits include choreographing the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Mosaic Media Group, launched in July 1999, unites film and music company Atlas Entertainment with the talent management group The Gold/Miller Company. Its diversified interests include roles as the controlling shareholder in dick clark productions So You Think You Can Dance, Golden Globe Awards, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and an entertainment marketing division through its joint venture with Elevation Entertainment.

Distinguished by over two decades as a producer of motion pictureswhich have collectively grossed $1.7 billion worldwideMosaic Media Group partner Charles Roven is co-founder of Atlas Entertainment and its affiliated company Atlas/Third Rail Management. His most recent credits include the Terry Gilliam directed The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as well as Batman Begins, which was number one in the U.S. box office two weeks in a row and has had a worldwide gross of over $365 million. Roven also recently executive produced Universal Studios family comedy Kicking and Screaming, starring Will Ferrell, which opened to over $20 million at the U.S. box office. Previously Roven produced the $275 million grossing-hit Scooby-Doo and the sequel Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

Roven has spearheaded a broad slate of projects, overseeing production or producing the films Final Analysis, Honey, I Blew Up the Kids, Cool Runnings, Mans Best Friend, Sister Act II: Back in the Habit, Angus, Twelve Monkeys, Fallen, City of Angels, Three Kings and Bulletproof Monk. Previously, as an independent producer, he shepherded films such as Cadillac Man. While focusing on Mosaics feature film activities, Roven also participates in the music management division. He was involved in the soundtracks for Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2 and City of Angels, which won three Grammy Awards and featured the companys client the Goo Goo Dolls as well as Alanis Morissette.

Robert Guralnick spent two years as president of production for Mosaic Media Group. Prior to that he was executive vice president at Warner Bros. for twelve years and shepherded projects such as Scooby-Doo, Collateral Damage, Angel Eyes, Youve Got Mail, Devils Advocate, The Pelican Brief, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Bodyguard.

Independent producers Scott Macaulay and Robin OHara are the founders of the New York-based production company Forensic Films. Their recent productions include Peter Sollett's award-winning debut feature Raising Victor Vargas, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, received its American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best films of 2003. Previously for HBO they produced John Leguizamo's directorial debut Undefeated, and they also recently co-produced Olivier Assayas's Clean, which received the Best Actress prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for Maggie Cheung. Their other producing credits include Harmony Korine's Gummo and julien donkey-boy, Jesse Peretz's The Chateau and First Love, Last Rites, Frank Whaley's Joe the King, and Tom Noonan's Sundance Grand Prize-winning What Happened Was... Macaulay and O'Hara are recipients of a special IFP/Los Angeles Spirit Award for their work producing independent film.

Grammy-nominated producer William Green is an executive producer on the film. In addition to working in commercial and music video production for over ten years, Green has produced such films as The Hesketh Project and Ali Gs In Da House.

Michael Blue Williams is the president of Family Tree Entertainment. As the manager for Grammy Award-winning artists such as OutKast, Blue has moved to the forefront of the music and entertainment world. His longtime list of clients under the branches of Family Tree Entertainment includes OutKast, Nick Cannon, Case, Lyfe, Jagged Edge, Killer Mike and Scarface. With new ventures into the film world, Family Tree Entertainment continues to grow.

For the last two years, Erika Conner managed the day-to-day operations, including development and production, of Mosaic Media Groups urban film division. She also worked closely with Mosaics other film divisions, Atlas Entertainment (Three Kings, City of Angels, Scooby Doo), the Gold/Miller Company (Scary Movie 1 & 2, Bruce Almighty, Elf, Finding Nemo), and dick clark productions (The Golden Globes, American Dreams). Prior to joining Mosaic, Erika was director of film development for Naaila Entertainment, the production banner of video director Hype Williams.

HBO Films, a division of Home Box Office, produces movies for the network and for theatrical release.

Earlier this year, HBO Films received two Oscar nominationsCatalina Sandino Moreno in the Best Actress category for Maria Full Of Grace and Yesterday in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Other recent accolades for HBO Films include top honors at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where Elephant and director Gus Van Sant were awarded the Palme dOr and Best Director prizes, while American Splendor captured the International Film Critics Association Award. American Splendor was also named Best Picture by both the Los Angeles Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

For three years in a row, HBO Films presentations have received a top award at the Sundance Film Festival, among them Maria Full of Grace (Audience Award, 2004), American Splendor (Grand Jury Prize, 2003) and Real Women Have Curves (Audience Award, 2002). In 2004 HBO Films won an unprecedented number of Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for Mike Nichols landmark production of Angels in America starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal. NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates the No. 1 television network, the fastest-growing Spanish-language network, a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.

Jami Stigliano
Manager, New Media Marketing
Zomba Label Group
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AOL IM: jamistig




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