Will Smith Was Nearly Sued Into Starring in ‘House Party’
Reginald Hudlin’s House Party, the Kid ‘n Play teen comedy, was a blockbuster success in 1990, making boatloads of money, earning rave reviews and spawning four sequels of mostly dubious quality. Just last year, it was even inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, which was deserving for any of John Witherspoon’s scenes alone.
Later this month, we’re getting a reboot penned by Atlanta’s Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori. This time, the story is about two adult promoters covertly throwing a rager at LeBron James’ house (featuring Kid ‘n Play in the obligatory franchise-baton-passing cameo).
But the original nearly starred an entirely different 1990s hip-hop duo: The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. This almost came together thanks, in part, to Freddy Krueger. Back when only Will Smith’s songs slapped, he released “A Nightmare on My Street” about his encounter with an off-brand Freddy Krueger-type dream demon, who also happened to be named “Fred.”
So New Line Cinema, the studio behind the Nightmare on Elm Street films, sued for copyright infringement and won. This resulted in shelving the song’s music video and reportedly a deal where the duo could work off the settlement money by appearing in New Line films, and, according to DJ Jazzy Jeff, “the first script they were offered” was House Party, which they turned down. Hudlin later claimed that he was uncomfortable with the idea of casting the pair, not wanting anyone to star in the movie just “because they lost a lawsuit.”
This account is slightly disputed by Play, who claims that Smith and Jazzy Jeff were offered the movie by New Line executives but not because of the lawsuit — and that it was the legal skirmish that actually prompted the pair to reject the movie. He also points out that, despite the studio’s brief attempt to be “smart businessmen” by casting two more established stars, the actual creative forces behind House Party always wanted Kid ‘n Play.
Obviously, someone is wrong here, and the only solution to bring everything back in balance is by having Smith and Jeff star in a Class Act remake.
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