Saturday, April 20, 2024

Aretha Franklin Biopic “Respect” Moves to Christmas Day from August with Jennifer Hudson Best Actress Buzz Heating Up


The Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” has been moved to Christmas day from its previous August opening date.

This is partially because of the virus situation, but also because Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar buzz for Best Actress is strong. Liesl Tommy directed the movie, and Callie Khouri wrote the original script. But then Tracey Scott Wilson took over. The two have had a long creative relationship in theater. Khouri was somehow convinced to drop out and not get a credit. The cast includes Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington and Titus Burgess as Rev. Dr. James Cleveland.

Aretha approved Jennifer, which is no small thing. And from what we’ve seen and heard so far, JHud has probably done Aretha a great job. She can certainly sing those songs. I’ll bet that her version of “Ain’t No Way” is the scene stealer, if not “Natural Woman.”

Will the screenplay satisfy any of Aretha’s friends or family? Probably not, but I’m crossing my fingers. I see that late director Sydney Pollack is a character, which means that Tommy may have re-staged Aretha’s gospel doc filmed in 1972 and released last year as “Amazing Grace.” If JHud got sing that material, that may cement her Oscar win. She could just “kill” in that situation.

Meanwhile, we will first see Cynthia Erivo as Aretha in the Ron Howard-produced “Genius” mini-series on the Discovery channel this spring.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News