Many actresses were in the running to play out the life of Aretha Franklin on the big screen, with Jennifer Hudson ultimately securing the part last January. According to one producer, the film is still in the works and will definitely come to fruition, despite life rights issues her passing may or may not dredge up, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Oh, it’s definitely moving forward,” says Harvey Mason Jr., a longtime music producer for Franklin who’d been working with the icon on the biopic for the past 18 months. “We are going forward and making the movie that Aretha wanted to make.”
At this point, the film is still without a director, possibly has no script and has yet to be bought by a studio, though MGM is rumored to be attached.
Franklin herself initially wanted to be portrayed by another Academy Award winner, Halle Berry.
Berry humbly refused the offer, saying she wouldn’t be able to do Franklin justice in the singing department, according to Entertainment Weekly. Still, Franklin persisted, sending a telegram to The Wendy Williams Show in 2011, which the host read on-air.
“I would’ve liked Halle Berry to portray the older Aretha in the upcoming biopic of my life based on my memoir, Aretha: From These Roots. She was my first choice, everything’s subject to negotiation, and she shouldn’t underestimate her own talent. There are a number of other leading ladies out there that can definitely handle the role. I never expected Halle to sing. She’s an actress, not a singer. Many actors have portrayed vocalists by lip-syncing to the artists’ original recordings,” Franklin wrote.
The legend later gave Hudson her blessing, with Clive Davis revealing the news at his annual pre-Grammy party this January.
“The artist anointed by Aretha Franklin herself. Aretha personally told me that last week.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.