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Last Updated: Friday, 10 August 2007, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Open auditions for Notorious film
Notorious BIG
Notorious BIG was murdered in Los Angeles in 1997
Open online auditions are to be held to cast the lead role in a film about murdered US rap star Notorious BIG.

Producer Wayne Barrow said the casting was being thrown open because no-one in Hollywood seemed suitable for the role.

"No-one came to mind outside of Forest Whitaker," he said. Whitaker was later discounted because he is 46, whereas Notorious BIG was only 24 when he died.

Budding actors can submit their audition videos via the Fox Searchlight Pictures website from 12 August.

Notorious BIG, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, is acknowledged as one of the most influential musicians in hip-hop.

He was killed in his vehicle in March 1997, following an appearance at the Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles.

'American dream'

"We thought it would be best to open it up to the world and give somebody the opportunity to step into his shoes and fulfil their own American dream," said Barrow, who was previously the rapper's manager.

The star's mother, Voletta Wallace, said candidates should not "just imitate" her son.

"I want to see his swagger, his style, his energy and smile come through," said Ms Wallace, who is producing the movie.

The project, which will simply be called Notorious, has been in development for more than seven years.

George Tilman has been hired to direct the movie, having previously worked on Men of Honor and Soul Food.

Antoine Fuqua, whose film credits include Training Day, had previously been linked to the film.

But, earlier this year, he said he had reservations about the degree of control the producers had in developing the script.

"They're in the record business, they're not in the film business," he said.

Barrow said Fuqua had dropped out of the picture because of timing issues.

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