Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson’s supercharged appearance last night at Denise Rich’s annual Angel Ball gave rise to talk about her next project.
Hudson, who won the Academy Award for “Dreamgirls” and was so good in “The Secret Life of Bees,” is now rumored to be in talks for an indie biopic about South African leader Winnie Mandela. Winnie was a winner during her years as wife of Nelson Mandela during his 27-years of illegal incarceration. But in later years she lost her way, getting into legal trouble and becoming a pariah. She and Mandela have been divorced for some time.
The word is that either the terrific Derek Luke or actor Idris Elba might be up for the part of Nelson Mandela. Details are still sketchy.
Winnie Mandela is all of a sudden a hot topic in movies. This summer, Oscar nominee Sophie Okenedo played Winnie in a BBC film.
Meanwhile, Hudson’s two-song cameo at the Angel Ball ‘ held at Downtown Cipriani ‘ was sensational. Introduced by Clive Davis, Hudson sang her signature hit, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” with just piano accompaniment. The audience ‘ which included lots of celebs and big name players ‘ rewarded her with whoops and hollers and a standing ovation.
The audience also rewarded Rich’s charity, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, by raising just under $4 million for cancer research. About 76 cents of every dollar from the foundation goes to funding research in memory of Rich’s daughter Gabrielle.
As usual, Rich had tons of stars in the very packed Cipriani ballroom including her pal Natalie Cole, never looking better, recovering from a year of illness and death. Natalie is about to host a Christmas TV special and then get back to recording and touring, she told me. Also on the scene: Robin Thicke (who also gave a tune) and actress wife Paula Patton, the gorgeous actress from “Precious”: plus Alan Cumming, who did some emceeing; sensational Lorraine Bracco, who just filmed a new pilot for HBO, with “Chicago” producer Marty Richards; Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kodb, Nikki Haskell, lucky “Gossip Girl” stars Penn Badgley and Blake Lively (they’re real!); Ivana Trump, Star Jones, Buzz and Lois Aldrin, Howard Stern, Sherri Shepherd, and Deborah Norville ” a natural, I should think, to replace Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America.”
…Meanwhile, if Diane S. was wondering where her hubby was, Mike Nichols was down at Soho House for a screening of the late great Louis Malle’s “My Dinner with Andre.” That movie’s stars, Andre Gregory and Wally Shawn, were there along with the night’s host, Candice Bergen. Even though Bergen has been married for some time to Marshall Rose, she’s been doing a lovely job honoring Louie. It was just a few weeks ago in the Hamptons that she hosted a screening of “Au Revoir Les Enfants.” We miss Louis Malle! Thanks, Candice…