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'Biggie & Tupac' Delves Into Slayings

September 30, 2002

They were two close friends who became deadly enemies, and now the story of gangsta rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G.), whose deaths shook the world of rap music, is the subject of a documentary called "Biggie & Tupac" that seeks to answer the lingering questions: Who killed them and why?

Shakur was fatally wounded in Las Vegas on Sept. 8, 1996, following a scuffle at the MGM Grand Hotel. Wallace was shot and killed following a Vibe magazine party in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. No one has been charged in either case.

British filmmaker Nick Broomfield ("Kurt & Courtney") has assembled an array of on-camera interviews that imply that Marion "Suge" Knight, the 6-foot 3-inch, 315-pound chief executive of Death Row Records, played a role in Shakur's murder, which Knight has denied. The film also suggests that former Los Angeles police officers linked to the infamous LAPD Rampart scandal may be connected to Wallace's killing.

"I think in the case of Tupac, it came down to a monetary dispute between him and Death Row Records," Broomfield said. "He was owed more than $10 million."

The film provides an alternative theory to a recent Times investigation that reported that Wallace provided L.A. gang members with a gun and promised them $1 million if they made good on their intention to kill Shakur in retaliation for the beating of one of their members.

Wallace's family denies he had any involvement.

The film is scheduled to open Friday at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, the Magic Johnson Theatres in the Crenshaw district, in the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, in Long Beach at the Stadium 26, and in Irvine at the University 6.

"Ironically, it opened in England first," Broomfield said, noting that fears of gang violence in the theaters frightened off most distributors in the U.S. "Roxie Releasing is basically the only distributor tough enough to release it. Everyone else said they were interested and then got worried. We're having to pay for extra security."

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