Lionel Richie is helping to develop a new biopic about soul legend Curtis Mayfield.

The Hello hitmaker has been granted the rights to his late pal's life story from officials at the Curtis Mayfield Estate, and will collaborate on the feature film with Curtis' widow, Altheida, and other loved ones.

"It's an honour for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friend to the screen," Lionel tells Deadline.com. "I'm so grateful to be working closely with Altheida Mayfield, Cheaa Mayfield and the Curtis Mayfield Estate and couldn't be happier to be moving forward on this amazing project about a one-of-a-kind music genius."

Altheida adds, "It's time to celebrate and re-evaluate Curtis' legacy. For years, too many others have tried to claim what he alone did. He was a genius, always stood on his own."

The movie, produced via Lionel's RichLion Productions, is expected to chronicle Mayfield's rise to fame as a teenage member of The Impressions, before branching out on his own, scoring hits such as The Makings of You, Move on Up, and Superfly. The singer was paralysed from the neck down in 1990 after a lighting rig fell and crushed him during a show in Brooklyn, New York, but he continued to record music until his death from diabetes complications in 1999, at the age of 57.

Casting information for the film has yet to be announced.

The Mayfield biopic won't be the only thing keeping Lionel busy in the near future - he also recently joined the judging panel for the revamped version of reality show American Idol, on which he will serve as a TV panellist alongside pop star Katy Perry and country singer Luke Bryan.

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