Gary Susman
April 11, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Legend has it that blues pioneer Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at a country crossroads at midnight in return for virtuosity on the guitar. In the new TV biopic of his life, maybe the devil won’t steal his soul; he’ll only sample it. That’s because Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs has been cast as Johnson in ”Love in Vain,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The HBO film will shoot on location in Mississippi in September.

Directing the film will be Tim Blake Nelson (”O,” ”The Grey Zone”). Nelson is best as one of the stars of ”O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, which made reference to the Johnson legend via the character of Tommy Johnson, played by contemporary bluesman Chris Thomas King. ”Love in Vain” will be the first lead role for rap mogul Combs, who earned praise for his supporting work in ”Monster’s Ball” and ”Made.”

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