Ja Rule may have just dropped his fourth album, The Last Temptation, but the gravel-voiced Hollis, Queens, native already has plans to continue his segue from MC to Hollywood swinger.
"We just got the green light. We're remaking 'Sparkle.' Me, Ashanti ... and Irv Gotti is [making his] directorial debut in Hollywood," Rule disclosed Tuesday after his appearance on "TRL." "That's just been greenlit with Warner Bros. It's going to be a big, big event for that movie."
In the original film, Irene Cara starred in the title role, playing one of three females in an all-sibling R&B group trying to make it big. The trio's world is turned upside down when they start to gain fame and the oldest of the girls, simply known as Sister, battles with drugs.
Ashanti will reprise Cara's part as the lead character and Rule says he'll tackle the role or Sparkle's beau Stix, which was originally played by "Miami Vice" star Philip Michael Thomas. The Inc. is also hoping to cast Beyoncé Knowles as the embattled eldest sibling and P. Diddy as her estranged love interest, Levi. Joel Schumacher, one of the writers on the original flick, is slated to produce.
"Right now we're just going to finish up casting," Rule said, estimating when 'Sparkle' would spark up production. "They're going to talk budgeting and stuff like that and then it'll be a go. I say we probably won't be up in production until about next year."
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. was unable to confirm the project, declining comment until the Murder Inc. deal is finalized.
It's on a considerably smaller scale, but we'll get to see Ja and Ashanti remake another timeless movie sooner than "Sparkle." The duo, who have a playful brother/sister relationship offscreen, switch it up onscreen, acting as boyfriend and girlfriend for "Mesmerize," the second video from The Last Temptation.
"We want to take the concept real big," Ja said a few weeks ago in a New York studio, while finishing up work on the album. "It's real crazy. We wanna do the John Travolta/ Oliva Newton-John classic, 'Grease.' We wanna recreate that whole [scene] in the theme park with the cute playing around and bumper cars. We'll start out the video with the whole transition thing — where she got on her slut outfit, she's smoking a cigarette and coughing and her girls are there. She's like, 'Well, if he wants me to be more street, that's what I gotta do.'
"And they cut to me and I'm in my sweater and my n---as are there, rolling the dice or whatever and they're looking at me like, 'Yo, what the f---?' " Ja continued. "I'm like 'I love her. If she wants me to be a little more [preppy], this is what I gotta do.' I see her in the slut outfit and I rip off my joint then I'm in all black and it's on and popping. It's gonna be hot."
The Inc.'s king and queen take their love song formula to the next level with a word exchange on the record.
"That's what I felt was gonna make the record really special and different," Rule explained. "I kind of flirted with it with 'I'm Real,' but I didn't take it all the way to this extent. That's really never been done quite like that in hip-hop, a real duet where I'm on the hook. On the third verse, me and Ashanti are going in and out, hip-hop style; she's singing and I'm rhyming.
" 'Mesmerize' is about your feelings towards a young lady," he added. " 'Your lips, your smile, I love it when you kiss me, baby.' It's describing everything about her that you love. Her eyes, her hips, her thighs — and you're mesmerized."
For more on Ja Rule, check out the feature "Ja Rule: Rule's Choice."
— Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Sway CallowaySway Calloway and Curtis Waller