Jay-Z, Will Smith partner with Willow Smith's 'Annie' in mind
Last week's buzz is now buzz with a business deal behind it: Jay-Z has partnered with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's production company in a joint venture "to develop and produce major motion pictures" -- including bringing a re-imagined "Annie" to the big screen, with Willow Smith in the title role.
"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,'" Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad said in a statement, adding that Willow "will be perfect in this role." Aileen Queen played the orphan in the 1982 film incarnation of the story.
Jay-Z, a.k.a. Shawn Carter and Mr. Beyonce, produced the Broadway show "Fela!," the story of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, last year with the Smiths. Overbrook Entertainment, founded by Will Smith and James Lassiter, announced the movie joint venture Wednesday.
Overbrook has been behind the films "The Karate Kid" -- which starred Willow's brother Jaden Smith -- "Ali," "I Am Legend," "Pursuit of Happyness" and "Hitch," among others.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photos: Jay-Z, left, performs at the Marquee Nightclub in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve; Willow Smith, right, arrives on the 38th Annual American Music Awards red carpet in Los Angeles on Nov. 21, 2010. Credits: Kevin Mazur / WireImage, left; Chris Pizzello / Associated Press, right.