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Making a 'Case' for Snoop, Dre in the Movies

July 31, 1994|Steve Hochman

Record executives Suge Knight and Jimmy Iovine have long predicted that rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg's talents aren't limited to music. They think the two can even make movies.

Now, Iovine and Knight are putting their money where their mouths are--to the tune of $750,000.

That's the price of an 18-minute film being produced to showcase Snoop as a big-screen presence, and Dre as a force behind the camera. The story line revolves around "Murder Was the Case," a song from Snoop's debut album. The plan is to screen it in theaters nationwide as a bonus short before the regular feature.

Another goal, of course, is to sell more records.

The money is coming from Knight's Death Row Records and Iovine's Interscope, the companies that release Snoop's and Dre's recordings, and for their investment they're hoping to launch Snoop's acting career, a directing career for rap star and producer Dr. Dre, and a film production business for Death Row. The companies will also release a soundtrack CD and cassette from the short.

"It's a start," says Knight. "For us to get into movies and the things Snoop and Dre want to do, we have to crawl before we walk. This is a big step for us."

Producer Philip G. Atwell, who has produced all of Snoop's music videos, says that "Murder" features state-of-the-art special effects and an R-rated plot, which he's keeping secret.

(In the song's sketchy narrative, Snoop is shot down in a gangsta ambush but makes a deal with the Devil for a luxurious eternal life--and still ends up in prison.)

"I'm sure a lot of people will have a lot of things to say about it and I'll just leave it at that," Atwell says.

One thing people are sure to speculate about even before the film is released is the relationship between the film and the real murder charges facing Snoop. The rapper has been charged along with his bodyguard and another man with murder in the shooting death of a 20-year-old man last August in West Los Angeles. Snoop's attorneys are claiming self defense.

"There's no connection," Knight says of the film and the real murder case, which could go to trial in late September. The song is from Snoop's album, "DOGGYSTYLE," which was released well before the incident.

Still, it will probably be in the minds of theater owners as they consider whether to screen the film, as will past associations of violence with rap-oriented features. (Which movie the short will be paired with is still under negotiation.)

Atwell hopes that any fears will be allayed when theater owners see the film.

"We didn't shoot something that would incite violence," he says.

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