Lenny Kravitz's Film Debut: Woody Allen Meets 'Purple Rain'

Semiautobiographical film inspired by growing up between two cultures.

Prince has often been cited as one of Lenny Kravitz's influences, so it should come as no surprise that Kravitz has decided to create and star in a semiautobiographical film in which he plays a musician searching for love and happiness. However, that's where the comparisons to "Purple Rain" end.

Kravitz's cinematic debut, "Barbecues and Bar Mitzvahs," will be a dramatic comedy the artist compares to the films of Woody Allen. "It's not a music movie, which is cool," Kravitz said. "There are no concert scenes or anything. It's about someone in my particular position growing up between two cultures. It's like 'Annie Hall' or 'Manhattan.' "

The son of a Jewish TV producer and black actress Roxie Roker (who played Helen Willis in the TV series "The Jeffersons"), Kravitz searched for identity as a child and found solace in music, which he felt embraced all ethnicities. His movie, due in 2005, will address this discovery.

"Barbecues and Bar Mitzvahs" will begin preproduction in the fall and will shoot next spring. Lenny will play the lead character, but the other roles are up for grabs. "I have some people in mind and people who have expressed interest, but nothing's on paper," he said.

Between pre-production and filming, Kravitz plans to tour for his upcoming album, Baptism, due May 18 (see "Lenny Kravitz Ditches Funk, Feels Reborn On Baptism"). On April 23 and 24 he'll play shows at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and on May 15 he'll play in Pasadena, California, at the KIIS-FM Wango Tango concert. At the end of May he'll begin a European tour, which runs through July 7 in London, then he'll launch his U.S. tour.

"I've got a lot going on," he said. "I'll be on the road for a while. But I'll take a break, make the movie, and then get back on the road again."

For Kravitz, "Barbecues and Bar Mitzvahs" isn't a money-making venture or an attempt to get a career rolling in Hollywood — it's more of a labor of love and personal expression. "If I make money from it, OK, but if I don't, it doesn't matter," he said. "Anything that I do from this point on is all about exercising the creative being within me."