Notorious B.I.G. Film To Start Production

Jamal Woolard, the star of the new film, "Notorious," about the life and career of Christopher Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. CBS

Notorious B.I.G. is coming back to New York, this time on the big screen.

A film about the life, career and untimely death of the Brooklyn native, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, starts shooting in his hometown on March 24.

"Notorious" will be directed by George Tillman Jr. and stars award winner Angela Bassett as B.I.G's mother, Voletta Wallace; Derek Luke as Sean "P Diddy" Combs; Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and newcomer Jamal Woolard in the title role.

A Brooklyn man himself, Woolard was discovered after over a year of an intense search for an actor to portray B.I.G.

"Finding BIG was a task in itself and I'm honored that so many young men came out to audition for the role," said Voletta Wallace. "However, it was Jamal's charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile that won my heart. He is a talented and charismatic actor and I am excited that he will bring Christopher's character to the big screen."

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"Notorious" will be released on January 16, 2009. Voletta Wallace is among the producers with Combs serving as executive producer.

Christopher George Latore Wallace was born in 1972 in Brooklyn. Popularly known as "Biggie Smalls," he was revered for his rapping and hip-hop music. He rose to iconic status when he released his debut album, "Ready to Die," in 1994 and drew attention to East Coast hip-hop artists in an era where West Coast artists were dominant on the hip-hop scene.

Growing up during the crack epidemic of the 1980's, Biggie was no stranger to life on the streets. He became involved with the violent underworld of drug dealers in Brooklyn at a young age. He is regarded today as one of the most influential hip-hop artists of all time, remembered for the raw, objective way he wove his rhymes.

During the making of his second album, B.I.G. became embroiled in the hip-hop feud between the East and West coasts. On March 9, 1997, the infamous rapper and voice of his generation was killed in a drive by shooting in L.A. The murder has never been solved.

Fifteen days later his two disc set "Life after Death" was released and hit the top of U.S. charts. In 2000 it was certified a Diamond album.

By Abigail Albair

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