Universal Plans Russell Simmons Biopic

Universal Pictures and studio-based Misher Films have acquired the rights to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons' autobiography, "Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money and God." The film will chronicle the care

Universal Pictures and studio-based Misher Films have acquired the rights to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons' autobiography, "Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money and God." The film will chronicle the career of Simmons, a former street hustler and concert promoter who co-founded, among other companies, Def Jam Records, the comedy showcase Def Comedy Jam, and the fashion label Phat Farm.

"Def," co-written with journalist and former Billboard R&B editor Nelson George, was published by Crown last year. It interweaves Simmons' history with that of the hip-hop movement. A native of Hollis, in the New York borough of Queens, Simmons overcame racial, economic, and social barriers to become an innovative and influential entrepreneur. Today, he oversees a multimillion-dollar empire of culture-defining businesses in music, fashion, advertising, film, and media.

Simmons says he surprised and flattered that someone would want to make a movie about his life. "I hope this can inspire young people and put me in a position where I can contribute and help the community even more," he said.

Simmons' life has been brought to the screen before in the 1985 Warner Bros. feature "Krush Groove," with Blair Underwood playing the famed entrepreneur. However, producer Kevin Misher points out that much has changed since that time.

"Russell's book will be a leaping-off point to bring his story to life and to show some perspective as to how far society has come in the past 20 years," Misher said. "This project is the story of the American dream: guys who set out to get paid and wind up at the leading edge of great cultural change, taking rap from being a street commodity and making it a cultural force."