Everybody hates Chris, but everybody loves Alicia — at least, that's what UPN hopes. The channel just signed a development deal with Alicia Keys to create a show based on her childhood, as it did with comedian Chris Rock for the hit sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris."
Keys' show wouldn't be a comedy, but rather an hour-long drama, according to UPN. The project would be loosely based on Keys growing up in a multiracial family (her mother is Irish-Italian, and her father is Jamaican). Keys was raised by her mother in New York's Hell's Kitchen after her father left them when she was 2. While her mother had to abandon her own musical career to take a job as a legal secretary to support them, Alicia's was just beginning, starting at age 4 when she sang in her kindergarten's production of "The Wiz." She started weekly classical piano lessons at age 7, later trained with a vocal coach, and enrolled at the Professional Performing Arts School, where she was valedictorian. By 16 she had a major-label deal.
UPN hasn't pinpointed which stage in Keys' young life the show will focus on, nor does the network have an actress in mind to play her. The script is being written by Felicia Henderson ("Soul Food," "Moesha," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), who will executive produce along with Keys and her manager, Jeff Robinson. There's no timetable to shoot the pilot, UPN said, though it's possible it could be ready by next season.
In the meantime, Keys has wrapped her first movie role, playing an assassin in "Smokin' Aces," alongside Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds (see "Jeremy Piven Psyched To Have 'Amazing Artist' Alicia Keys In 'Smokin' Aces' "). "I can't wait to see it," Keys wrote on her Web site about the movie, due later this year. "It might trip me out. But this movie is something, boy!"
Keys wrote that she felt like she learned a lot about acting, as well as a lot about herself, by taking on the role. She really related to her character, despite the assassin's much deadlier line of work.
"When I was her, I was her," Keys wrote. "What she went through, I was really going through. I understood her. Her insecurities became mine, her anger became mine, her past and what shaped her to be who she is, became me. It was like I had no reservations, no hesitations, I just walked and talked and thought like her. ... Through her, I was able to express a side of me that I never really have, but has always been deep within in some way."