Blair Underwood Bringing Rap Themed Novel To Big Screen

Veteran actor Blair Underwood has teamed with Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due to author the new book Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Mystery.

Casanegra, which hit stores last month, centers around a character named Tennyson Hardwick, a struggling giggalo-turned-actor, who is the prime suspect in the murder of a rapper/actress named Afrodite.

Hardwick attempts to clear his name, but ends up having to contend with corrupt cops, various rap rivals and more.

Underwood has revealed that he is turning the rap-themed book into a movie, in which he will play the leading role of Hardwick.

"One of the things we talked about right away was spinning this into a movie," Underwood said of the book, which takes place in Los Angeles. "And in order to do that, I wanted to make sure that all the characters were rich and full and complex. This wasn't just erotica for the sake of being sensational. We wanted real characters."

African-American co-authors and husband-and-wife writers Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due are writing the series of novels with Underwood.

Each novel will play off of a classic movie.

The title Casanegra was inspired by the 1943 Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman classic film, Casablanca.

"In the movie Casablanca the song says 'A Kiss is Just a Kiss," Due said referencing the American classic standard, "As Time Goes By."

"But as we say at 'Casanegra,' a kiss not just a kiss and sex is not just sex," Due continued. "There has never been a character like Tennyson Hardwick on the silver screen."

Besides small roles in the television classic The Cosby Show, Underwood, who is celebrated for his breakthrough role in the drama L.A. Law, made his acting debut in 1985 in the classic Hip-Hop movie Krush Groove, where he played the character "Russell Walker" aka Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Mystery is in stores now.

No release date was available for the theatrical version of the novel.