Ron Howard Directing a Jay-Z Movie, Mentoring James Murphy, Just Generally Being Super Hip

Ron HowardFirst he was aw-shucks Opie, then he was fancy Oscar-winning director guy, and now Ron Howard is … nabbing corner tables at The Spotted Pig?! A few recent developments suggest that, in a dramatic career-third-act twist, these days, Ron Howard is pretty darn hip.

First, there’s this movie he’s directing for Jay-Z. As the New York Post reports, Howard and his frequent production partner Brian Grazer are putting together a film project around Jay’s upcoming Made in America festival, which goes down in Philadelphia in September with a lineup headlined by Drake, D’Angelo, Run-DMC, Maybach Music Group, The Dirty Projectors, and more. Howard’s cameras will follow the making of the festival through Jay-Z’s perspective. This means: (a) For better or worse, we sure have come a long way from Streets Is Watching, (b) Ron and Jay are gonna get to spend so much quality time together! By the time the festival weekend is over, surely, Jay will be introducing Ron to Beyoncé, who’ll be introducing him to Solange, who’ll be introducing him to some experimental post-dubstep wunderkind whose music we won’t be cool enough to hear for at least another 14 months.

Then again, Ron might already be way ahead of the curve. As Pitchfork points out, Ron Howard happens to currently be mentoring a random crew of notables assembled by Canon to make short films as part of something called Project Imaginat10n. Along with Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, and designer/Harvey Weinstein spouse Georgina Chapman, Howard will be mentoring Mr. King Hipster himself, James Murphy. As Murphy explains of the project, “The cool thing is that I don’t have to do the existential task of asking myself, like, ‘What am I going to direct?’ It’s based on a bunch of pictures, like 10, that people send in. I get to pick them from a narrowed-down list. So it’s a short and there are parameters and I actually happen to be a Canon dude, since I was a kid; I don’t feel that weird feeling where I’m trying to convince myself that the company’s OK.” As for Howard’s involvement, Murphy says, “Maybe I’ll have his phone number on my iPhone and I’ll just be like, ‘Ron! I need to eat some sushi! Where do I go?'” And then Ron and James get sushi and James invites his pals Aziz Ansari and David Chang and then maybe LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang stops by on her way to a DJ set at some super-secret art gallery built out of a nuclear bomb shelter and all of a sudden the five of them decide to jet off to Southwestern Tajikistan to check out this totally rad Tajikified krautrock revival thing the Tajikis got going on …

Just when we thought we had you pegged as a mild-mannered Hollywood stalwart, you go and pull something like this, and switch the whole game up. Nicely done, Richie Cunningham.

Filed Under: James Murphy, Jay Z, Ron Howard

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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