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Image: Spike Lee
Jim Cooper  /  AP
Spike Lee, the director of "Malcolm X," was most recently in theaters with the thriller "Inside Man."
updated 12/27/2006 12:29:09 PM ET 2006-12-27T17:29:09

Director Spike Lee has signed on to shoot a movie about James Brown, the late "Godfather of Soul," Daily Variety reported Wednesday.

The authorized project is being developed for Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures by Brian Grazer, the Oscar-winning producer of "A Beautiful Mind," the trade publication said, adding that production would likely begin in 2008.

Brown, the self-proclaimed "hardest working man in show business," died of congestive heart failure Monday at age 73. The energetic singer of such soul anthems as "Sex Machine" and "I Feel Good," invented funk music, inspired the dance moves of Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson, and helped pave the way for hip-hop.

In recent years, posthumous movies about soul singer Ray Charles and country outlaw Johnny Cash have scored at the box office and won Academy Awards.

Daily Variety said Brown played an active role in the project's development, and granted access to his music rights.

"Like everybody, I was surprised and saddened that James Brown died," Daily Variety quoted Grazer as saying. "Having known him well, and after spending lots of time with him and researching his life, it's somehow not surprising that he died on Christmas Day. He was the ultimate showman, all the way to the end."

Lee, the director of "Malcolm X," was most recently in theaters with the thriller "Inside Man," which Grazer produced.

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