Jennifer Hudson went to Detroit Sunday and showed “Respect,” her Aretha Franklin biopic, to the Queen of Soul’s family and friends. Now, that’s brave.
On Friday she also attended the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, where the movie was screened before a very discerning crowd.
From both locations, I’ve gotten word that the movie went over very well. Hudson is unsurprisingly headed to another Oscar nomination, maybe even a win next spring.
The movie opens on August 13th.
Earlier in the day Sunday, Hudson made the rounds with director Liesl Tommy at the Detroit Historical Museum and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. There are exhibits all over saluting Aretha right now.
People close to Aretha who saw it Sunday night tell me Jennifer is sensational, the singing if exceptional, and that Aretha would be proud. What I’ve also heard is that Liesl Tommy’s movie is not perfect. (Few movies are.) “It’s a little choppy,” I heard, but that may be because TV’s “Nashville” creator and “Thelme and Louise” director Callie Khouri’s original screenplay was amended by Tracey Scott Wilson, who often collaborates with Tommy on her theater pieces.
But that’s not going to matter. Says one viewer: “It’s not about Aretha’s personal life or details of her love life. We don’t get a lot about her great sisters. It’s about her music and how she found her voice, and her style. That part works, and that’s all that matters.”
That is all that matters. I can tell you that’s all Aretha wanted from a movie, for it to cement her in the culture through film. She’s already there with the music. But she knew the power of cinema. And no one alive today could represent her on the big screen as well as Jennifer Hudson.
In the Detroit crowd: Aretha’s beloved cousin Brenda and husband James Corbett, the Queen’s sons Kecalf and Eddie, Aretha’s grandchildren, devoted niece Sabrina Owens and her husband Oliver, Cristal Franklin, her daughter Brooklyn, great sister-in-law Earline Franklin (who once made me the most delicious Southern lunch with Aretha in the Hamptons), head of security and friend Hilton Kincaid, Aretha’s hair stylist, Carlton Northern plus Aretha’s long time assistant Zoretha Coleman, and her favorite photographer, Linda Solomon.
There’s a big premiere in Los Angeles next Sunday, and then shows begin on Thursday night the 12th with special preview screenings all over the country. I’m told the end of the movie is very emotional, as the real Aretha appears and sings, followed by a scrapbook of rare photos. What could be better? For everyone who knew Aretha well, we’re so happy she’s getting this tribute.
Of course there are plenty of stories to tell still about the magnificent Ms. Franklin– funny, sad, poignant. They’ll all be told in time, I’m sure!
Photo c2o21 Linda Solomon for Showbiz411