Chiplin’s movie to tell of rapper’s rise, fall

Published 12:07 am Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vicksburg native and Jackson State University English professor Dr. Charles Chiplin is turning his 2006 novel about the rise and fall of a Mississippi rapper into a film set for release by summer’s end.

Chiplin, along with Atlanta-based Prince S.R. Media Productions company and NWN Studios Jackson Teleport of Jackson, will begin filming the adaptation of Chiplin’s “Johnson Grass” fiction novel in April in Vicksburg and in Jackson.

“There’s such an urgency with this kind of work especially in these days,” said Chiplin, who will direct the movie. “I decided to do this because young people need to see the perils you can set yourself in when you turn away from your Christian upbringing. I’m hopeful this will reach many people, black and white. ”

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“Johnson Grass” is a story about a talented teenager named Cane, who was raised in a Christian home by his grandmother after his drug-addicted mother gave him up. He finds success in the rap industry, but his success takes an ugly turn when he is absorbed with selling and using illegal drugs despite having made a great deal of money with his music.

The role of Cane will be played by real-life rapper and actor Romeo Miller, son of rapper Master P of No Limit Records, depending on the movie’s “contingency plan,” Chiplin said.

“We have a budget of just under $1 million and someone of his stature will help the movie,” Chiplin said.

Vicksburg resident and home-care nurse Shellon Wilson, 45, won the role of another main character, Ms. GeeGee.

“I’m very excited,” said Wilson, who has been performing on smaller stages since 1987. “I saw Dr. Chiplin on television and I went to audition.”

Wilson has performed at Parkside Playhouse on Iowa Avenue since 2001.

Filming in Vicksburg will be at Williams Funeral Service on Washington Street and Mount Zion Baptist Church on U.S. 61 North in Ballground, about 10 miles north of Vicksburg.

Some filming will be across and at Jackson State University, which has “highly supported” the film, Chiplin said.

A film release date has not been set, but Chiplin said he is aiming for a summer release.

Chiplin, 63, graduated from Rosa A. Temple High School in 1966. He received a bachelor’s in sociology from Alcorn State University, a master’s in education from Jackson State and a doctorate in correctional psychology from Adam Smith University.

For seven years in the 1970s he produced plays through Vicksburg Ebony Theatre Guild, which emphasized black culture, he said.

Chiplin retired in 2008 after 17 years as a Hinds County deputy.

He currently is an English professor at JSU.