Release Date: 12/25/20; In Theaters – Limited
Studio(s): Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), BRON Studios, Cinesite, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Glickmania
Director: Liesl Tommy
Running Time: Unknown
Cast: Jennifer Hudson (Aretha Franklin), Forest Whitaker (C. L. Franklin), Tituss Burgess (Reverend Dr. James Cleveland), Marlon Wayans (Ted White), Tate Donovan (John Hammond), Marc Maron (Jerry Wexler), Audra McDonald (Barbara Franklin), Mary J. Blige (Dinah Washington), Heather Headley (Clara Ward), Saycon Sengbloh (Erma Franklin), Leroy McClain (Cecil Franklin), Hailey Kilgore (Carolyn Franklin), Skye Dakota Turner (Young Aretha Franklin).
Story: The life story of legendary R&B singer, Aretha Franklin. The film follows Aretha’s rise as a singer, first in her father’s church choir, to how she eventually attains international superstardom.
Update 11/7/19: The Wrap reported that Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald and Mary J. Blige have all joined the ensemble cast of MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect starring Jennifer Hudson. Tituss Burgess, Tate Donovan and Marc Maron are also joining the life story of the queen of soul, as are Broadway stars Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Heather Headley and newcomer Skye Dakota Turner.
Whitaker, Wayans, McDonald, Sengbloh and Kilgore are all playing members of Franklin’s family. Whitaker will portray Aretha’s father, Reverend CL Franklin, who was also Franklin’s manager early on in her career and himself was known as the man with the “Million-Dollar Voice.” Wayans plays Ted White, Franklin’s first husband. McDonald will play Aretha’s mother, Barbara Franklin. Sengbloh and Kilgore will play Franklin’s sisters. And Turner, known for her role in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” on Broadway, will play a young Aretha Franklin.
The rest of the cast is playing some other musical luminaries that surrounded Franklin throughout her career. Blige will play recording artist Dinah Washington. Headley will play Clara Ward, the gospel artist and leader of The Famous Ward Sisters. Burgess stars as “King of Gospel,” Reverend Dr. James Cleveland. Donovan stars Columbia Records producer John Hammond, and Maron is playing Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler.
Respect is fully sanctioned by Franklin’s estate and will include many of her iconic songs, including “Respect,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “Spanish Harlem” and “Young, Gifted and Black.” Source: The Wrap. Photo Source: Oprah Magazine.
Details as of 8/16/2018: In January, it was announced by record executive Clive Davis, at his annual pre-GRAMMY party in NYC, that Jennifer Hudson had signed on to portray Aretha Franklin in the biopic based on her memoir Aretha: From These Roots. He also announced that Franklin actually handpicked Hudson to play her. The movie will center around Aretha’s journey to discover her true voice and who she wanted to be as an artist. Currently the film doesn’t have a release date and there are no plans to speed the production in the wake of Aretha’s passing
Sadly on this date, Franklin’s publicist confirmed that the legend died of advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to the Queen of Soul and took to Instagram to remember the legendary artist. Hudson Instagrammed a video of herself listening to Franklin’s cover of The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” “I have no words, so I will let the Queen say it!” Hudson wrote. “But I will say while teaching me about your life, u taught me so much about life and schooled me in mine. I will never forget those teachings #riparethafranklin.” Sources: People, ET Online, TMZ. Photo Source: ET Online.