Biggie, Tupac Relaunch A+E’s ‘Biography’ Banner

2-part doc Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G to be followed by 6-part Who Killed Tupac?

White poster featuring Biggie on left, with black poster for Shakur on right.The tumultuous lives and tragic deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls are the centerpiece of A&E’s Biography relaunch, which premieres Sept. 4  with the three -hour The Life of Notorious B.I.G., followed later in the season by the 6-part limited series Who Killed Tupac?

Shakur was gunned down on the streets of Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1996, and Smalls killed March 9, 1997 on the streets of Los Angeles in what investigators speculate was a circle of retaliation that stemmed from an East Coast-West Coast hip hop feud. Although both artists were born in New York — Smalls in Brooklyn and Shakur in East Harlem, their careers saw them plant flags on opposite coasts, with Shakur joining the Los Angeles-based Death Row Records and Smalls recording for the Gotham-based Bad Boy Records. Twenty years after their deaths, however, speculation and conspiracy theories continue to swirl.

The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is directed by Mark Ford, a three-time Emmy nominee who helmed two highly-regarded docs about the L.A. riots as well as Streets of Compton frames the retelling of the life and death of Christopher Wallace, who recorded for labels including Uptown under the names Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls. The show promises exclusive new archival footage and audio recordings as well as new interviews by family members and compatriots 2 Chainz and T-Pain.

Who Killed Tupac? will follow, with famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump — perhaps best known as the attorney representing slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin’s family — sharing center stage as he conducts a fresh investigation into the circumstances surrounding the influential rapper and actor’s death.

“The late Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur continue to impact the world two decades after their tragic, unsolved murders and there is still a public longing to connect with these figures and to celebrate their legacies,” A+E Network executive vp and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant said. “We pride ourselves in delivering projects under the Biography banner that unearth a side of the story that the public has never seen before. In the case of Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., the foundation of this biography is exclusive archival footage and audio recordings of Biggie himself, packaged in a way that allows him to tell his own life story as if its present day and we are truly excited to be able to bring that kind of intimacy and connection to his fans.”

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is the first biography to be authorized by his estate and promises a deeply personal view of the artist’s life. Included are interviews with those closest to him including his widow Faith Evans, who married Wallace in 1994, his mother Voletta Wallace, close friend Lil Cease and members of Junior Mafia as well as cultural icons Sean “Diddy” Combs, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Nas.  In addition, the special will explore the people and places that shaped his life including his youth hustling on the streets of New York, his rise to fame with his confidante and collaborator Combs, his relationships artists including Lil’ Kim, and his ongoing feud with Shakur.

Who Killed Tupac? focuses on the investigation, 20 years after the fatal drive-by shooting on the streets of Las Vegas of the prolific and influential rapper and actor, Tupac Shakur. Each installment will include aspects from the artist’s life and follow  Crump as he conducts a full-scale, intensive investigation into key theories behind his murder. In addition to Martin, Crump has represented the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and other victims of gun violence who many believe were denied their due process of the law.

When Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who went to high school with Crump’s mother, saw that he was fighting for truth and justice for the family of Trayvon Martin, she expressed to him how important that was and that this fight is not just for Tupac and Trayvon, but for all our young black men who have died violently on U.S. streets. In exploring Tupac’s death, Crump seeks to show how it is relevant to what is happening in the social justice movement in America today.

Through Tupac’s own words and exclusive new interviews with eyewitnesses, family, friends, and colleagues, viewers will be privy to all facets of Shakur’s complex life.  Key interviews include Tupac’s brother Mopreme Shakur, his childhood friend E.D.I. Mean as well as other members of his group Outlawz, Al Sharpton, radio personality Big Boy, Christopher Darden, his first manager Leila Steinberg, former MTV correspondent Tabitha Soren, executives at Death Row Records, former gang members of the Bloods and the Crips, Quincy “QDIII” Jones III and Digital Underground’s Money-B.

A+E’s refashioned Biography brand is leaning heavily on music, profiles including Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grandmaster Flash, Chance the Rapper and Kanye West. Biography online will roll out The 1000 Word Seriesproviding audiences enriched content for each Biography project. This online adjunct series will kick off with a letter written to Tupac, accompanied by audio, from author and collaborator, Kevin Powell, as well as a video component and a heartfelt letter written to Biggie Smalls from friend, colleague, and author Steve Stoute.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. is produced by Creature Films in association with Entertainment One (eOne). Executive producers for Creatures Films are Mark Ford and Kevin Lopez. Executive Producers for eOne are John Morayniss and Tara Long. Voletta Wallace and Faith Evans also serve as executive producers. Executive producers for A&E are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Brad Abramson.

Who Killed Tupac? is produced by Renegade 83 in association with FGW Productions. Executive producers for Renegade 83 are Jay Renfroe and David Garfinkle. Stephanie Frederic is the executive producer for FGW Productions. Additionally, Vince DiPersio serves as executive producer. Jason Sklaver serves as executive producer and director. Benjamin Crump also serves as executive producer. Executive producers for A&E are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Brad Abramson.

A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights for both programs.

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