Fox, Russell Simmons Developing a Movie About Def Jam Artist T La Rock

Russell Simmons
Koury Angelo

Russell Simmons photographed on Jan. 18 at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu.

Mike Medavoy is also set to produce the film, based on the recently published GQ article, "The Man Who Forgot He Was a Rap Legend."

The life of T La Rock, the first artist signed to Def Jam Records, is getting the big picture treatment.

20th Century Fox has picked up the rights to Joshuah Bearman’s recently published GQ article, "The Man Who Forgot He Was a Rap Legend", which follows Rock's rise as a pioneer and groundbreaker in rap music until a nearly deadly beating that left him in a coma at the peak of his career. The feature will follows the story of his rehabilitation in a nursing home, filled with an unlikely band of patients, caregivers and elderly residents at a Jewish care facility in Brooklyn.

Def Jam founder Russell Simmons will produce the film with Jake Stein under their DEF Pictures banner, along with Mike Medavoy (Black Swan, Shutter Island), who will produce via his Phoenix Pictures with Benjamin Anderson. Bearman, who wrote the story on which Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning feature Argo was based, is a cofounder of Epic Magazine, which has a first look deal at Fox, and he will produce with Epic co-founder Josh Davis, while Arthur Spector will oversee the biopic for Epic. Bonnie Timmermann will also produce.

“T La Rock has always been an inspiration to me and many in the hip hop community,” said Simmons. “This is a man who was literally beaten to within an inch of his life at the height of his fame. How he regained his memory and recovered from his coma while being cared for and surrounded by the most unlikely group of therapists and friends is the kind of hope-filled and hopeful true story that will appeal to everyone, whether you love rap music or not.”  

“When I first read the story of T La Rock’s life, it really moved me that the first Def Jam artist, with such a promising future, ended up like a fish out of water in a Jewish nursing home surrounded by elderly patients, some of whom were Holocaust survivors," added Medavoy. "Through the help and kindness of these people, and the persistence of his mother visiting every day to try and restore his lost memories, he was able to have the rare chance to take stock of his life and determine a different path as he went out into the world. A chance to live a better life."

Epic Magazine is repped at UTA. Simmons is repped by WME. Phoenix is repped by Gang Tyre.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.