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Aretha Franklin Biopic Apparently Has Director & Financing + Its Official Title & Her Dream Cast

by Tambay A. Obenson
January 18, 2012 12:40 PM
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Well, good luck to her! This biopic of hers has been "in development" for sometime now, and we've documented every major progression, most notably the casting kerfuffle between her and Halle Berry (she said Halle was a shoe-in to play Aretha Franklin in the film; Halle said, I don't think so, 'cause I can't sing; then Aretha said, but Halle, you don't have to sing, 'cause you'll be lip-synching my shit; and then nothing).

In the past, she'd said that she'd met with several other actors who were interested in being in the film, but none of those actors ever confirmed any of that; Halle is the only one who really said anything publicly, and what she did say wasn't to Aretha's liking, which she expressed afterward.

Even Denzel Washington's name was said to be in the mix; and she also previously said that she was in talks with a high-profile director with several blockbusters on his resume to helm the project, but she wouldn't give a name.

Will it ever happen? Bah-humbug! Who knows?

But she's certainly doing a good job of keeping the project in play, as she periodically drops a word or two on it, leading to us (and other sites) reporting on what she said; although we've been quiet on the Aretha reporting lately. The last S&A Aretha/biopic post was in September, 4 months ago.

Today, in an MSN Entertinment piece, Aretha Franklin had some new things to say about the film; first, she revealed her "wish list" of actors to round out the cast. We know she already has the hots for Halle in the lead role; she added today that she also wants Nia Long, Kerry Washington and Blair Underwood to sign on for roles, as her older sister Erma, her younger sister Carolyn, and her brother Cecil respectively.

Her reps told the New York Daily News that no actors have signed on yet, but that Aretha "is scheduled to meet with the director and financiers ... to discuss her final casting selections for the biopic."

THE director? So there's already a director attached to it? News to me. Also, are we to assume that it's been financed already as well?

Lastly, they added that the film will be titled "From These Roots" after Franklin's 1999 autobiography.

Let's wait and see what the news on this is in another 4 months...

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  • Norbit | November 25, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    Fantasia is the best choice to play Aretha Franklin. Fantasia's voice and range is so much similar to Aretha's in style. She comes from a church background like Aretha, have a similar past. Aretha became a young mother at 13 and Fantasia at 17. Plus Fantasia have done Broadway and some other acting. She could really do Aretha Franklin justice.

  • bruce tate | January 29, 2012 8:58 PMReply

    I hope yall forward this blog to Aretha. I love Halle but c'mon..really REE REE? Your biopic could open the doors for many new upcoming actors and expose the world to talent typical hollywood wouldnt appreciate. Taraji P. Henton , Michael Cory Davis, Anthony Mackie, Regina King, Sanaa Lathan, and so many people getting half dissed in hollywood.. Upcoming artists for male and female roles would show the world how legendary you are and will cut back on this sense of extreme vanity that folks tag on to you as well.

  • ODell Scott | January 29, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    Wouldn't Jennifer Hudson be better for the lead ?

  • Joshua | January 28, 2012 11:36 PMReply

    Jazmine Sullivan would be another good choice.

  • Joshua | January 28, 2012 11:35 PMReply

    I think Amber Riley from Glee should play Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson would doa good job but I don't want her to be typecast. Jennifer got some acting chops and I want her to take dramatic roles that allows Jennifer to challenge herself. Amber would be a good choice. She can sing and act. She can definitely pull off the role.

  • woh | January 25, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    What about Anika Noni Rose or Audra McDonald?

  • blksista | January 22, 2012 7:58 PMReply

    Okay, okay, but when is that documentary coming out? The one that Sidney Pollack wanted to do but couldn't. She stopped it from being released! So when is that one coming out?

  • Orville | January 21, 2012 8:14 PMReply

    Do people ever think maybe Jennifer Hudson doesn't want to be typecast? I am not sure I want to see Jennifer in another movie about a black singer. I am more interested in seeing Jennifer's dramatic film Winnie get released because in that film she is not singing!

  • Ash | January 21, 2012 10:25 PM

    I agree. Although Jennifer Hudson might be a better choice than Halle Berry and some other people mentioned, Jennifer Hudson does not have to play every black singer. We all know she can sing. She also acts. The two shouldn't necessarily intertwine or else she'll become like Beyonce.

  • Boomslang | January 20, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    I'm tired of the same old faces . Hudson, Halle , Jill , MJB and who else. The picking can't be this small. I could do without Denzel and Terrance for a long while too. Aunjanue Ellis and Condola Rashaad anyone.

  • Jason Jay | January 20, 2012 12:17 PMReply

    Halle is as bad an actress as Aretha is delusional thinking they resemble.

  • Donella | January 19, 2012 5:26 PMReply

    Halle has made it clear she would rather not. I think she has already portrayed two singers in film, and has a good idea of her range. Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, unknown, or an up-and-coming Broadway actress would be interesting choices for a fascinating movie of a fascinating life. Non-singers Regina King, Sanaa Lathan, or Taraji P. Henton (actually, she does sing) would probably do great with a dubbed soundtrack.

  • Donella | January 21, 2012 4:56 PM

    I'm also leaning towards Taraji P. Henton. She's a great actress who performed a decent cover of Rock Steady for Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself. So either dubbed or actually performing, I think she could handle the singing. Also, she has a very strong personality and could handle the lead. Plus, while I think Taraji would be sure to show Aretha proper respect, she wouldn't allow Aretha to push her around. Other actresses might be intimidated.

  • Kyle | January 21, 2012 12:54 PM

    I agree Donella. There are so many up and coming stage actors, me being one of them, that are dying for the chance to be in a movie like this. Why not look there? All the actresses you named, especially Taraji ( who I could totally see doing it) would be great as well. I agree with you 100%

  • iceprincess857 | January 19, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    Halle playing Aretha is ridiculous! first of all Halle cannot act! She has no depth to her roles unless she's playing some man's sex kitten

  • Ron R. | January 19, 2012 8:46 AMReply

    Aretha Franklin played by Halle Berry......there must be some drugs involved in that thinking!!!

  • Karen | January 19, 2012 7:12 AMReply

    Jennifer Hudson would make a good Aretha Franklin (hint hint)

  • Steven | January 19, 2012 4:03 AMReply

    Being a fellow Detroiter I love Aretha but damn she is a little delusional on having these 40 something actresses play her and her family respectively. I don't mind them in the movie but let's get some fresh faces in here.

  • Verlana | January 19, 2012 12:36 AMReply

    Jennifer Hudson was the first name to pop in my head or Fantasia

  • Josh | November 24, 2013 7:33 PM

    Fantasia would be perfect to play Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson would also be great but this role is made for Fantasia.

  • JULIA TONEY | January 19, 2012 12:05 AMReply


  • Erica | January 18, 2012 11:53 PMReply

    of course Jennifer Hudson would be perfect due to her music back ground, however, Hallie looks the park very well. Hallie starred in the Dorothy Dandridge movie a while back and she did a great job. Why should this be any different! If she can't sing, you sure couldn't tell!!!! If I were Aretha Franklin, I would stay on Hallie Berry for sure.......

  • Cathy | January 18, 2012 11:49 PMReply

    Jennifer Hudson!!!

  • Pat Layne | January 19, 2012 4:41 AM

    I would love to see Jennifer Hudson play Aretha Franklin in her

  • J C | January 18, 2012 11:45 PMReply

    I think Jennifer Hudson would be perfect for this role. Anybody else out there thinking the same?

  • SEW | April 10, 2012 3:27 PM

    I think Queen Latifah, Fantasia or Taraji would be a good choice.

  • Cathy | January 18, 2012 11:51 PM

    Great minds think alike! She was the only one that came to my mind and she fits perfectly!!!!

  • Evelyn Parker | January 18, 2012 11:45 PMReply

    Ms.Aretha Franklin is the most talented musician/SINGER of all time. Although a younger Aretha and Halle have similiar bone structure, Halle is wrong for the part. I believe Fantasia would be the perfect person to play the role because both are from spiritual backgrounds and both have soulful voices.

  • danxjr | January 19, 2012 12:29 AM

    Aretha an Halle do not have similar bone structure . Jennifer Hudson is built for this role.

  • justdancejb1 | January 18, 2012 11:32 PMReply

    I, like many of you, feel that Halle Berry is the wrong choice. And yup, laughing at Aretha's gaul to ask for the most beautiful woman in Hollywood, to do so. Has anyone considered Octavia Spencer? I really don't think they will be using their voices anyway, whether she can sing or not is a non issue. Think about Selena. They didn't use Jennifer Lopez's voice. No need. Yeah, I think Octavia can stand to slim down a little and play Aretha Franklin in her biopic.

  • Logic | January 18, 2012 11:44 PM

    What? Gall? Everyone wants the Hollywood treatment. Who would you want to play you if not someone beautiful?

    Besides, Aretha Franklin was a good looking woman in her prime, much closer to Halle in the looks department than Octavia Spencer. Go look up pre-nose job Halle and compare it to the picture of Aretha above. Not saying she's right for the role, but most of the names being thrown around don't fill me with any more confidence.

  • A | January 18, 2012 11:29 PMReply

    I think Jennifer Hudson is a good choice she acts and sings. I like Deatra champ sounds like Arethea but she doesn't look like her. I like Faith Evans voice so full of soul. They will find someone because the Queen of Soul must have a movie.

  • Beverly | January 18, 2012 11:28 PMReply


  • edith police | January 18, 2012 11:26 PMReply

    What about Mary J Blige? she can sing and act...Aretha needs to get serious and let someone else do this

  • Anita Kearney | January 18, 2012 11:25 PMReply

    For those who thinks of "Lady Soul" as a big fat woman she was not always so. In the beginning of her career she was a thin and beautiful woman so although I agree that Halle is not right for the role I do not agree for the same reasons. Jennifer Hudson could do worse than taking on this challenge but I would like to see a unknown actress that can both act and sing get the role.

  • Pat | January 19, 2012 4:44 AM

    I think that Whitney Huston would make a good Aretha, she sings and acts plus they come from similar backgrounds...?

  • Nicole | January 18, 2012 7:37 PMReply

    *sigh* I'll be glad when this biopic is made.

    Jennifer Hudson seems like the logical choice, but let's be real...Jennifer's acting leaves something to be desired. I don't care if she can sing.

    I think they should find an unknown to play Aretha and surround her with known, established actors.

  • Donella | January 18, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    "is scheduled to meet with the director and financiers ... to discuss her final casting selections for the biopic."

    LOL @ the micro-managing

  • Orville | January 18, 2012 4:27 PMReply

    I also want to add I think Aretha Franklin is too close to the movie to be objective about her own life. I cringe when a celebrity makes a biopic about their life. I doubt Franklin is going to talk about the real money problems she`s had and her obesity issues in the movie.

  • Orville | January 18, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    I don`t know if Jennifer Hudson would want to play Aretha since the queen of soul was always a fat woman. Maybe Jennifer can wear a fat suit or something I guess. I just think Jennifer Hudson is better than this kind of a movie. Jennifer doesn`t want to get typecast in those black soul singer roles. I hope Jennifer doesn`t take the part. I think Halle Berry is the wrong choice she looks nothing like Aretha. Halle is a beautiful woman in great shape and Aretha Franklin is an obese black woman. There are no similarities only differences.

  • danxjr | January 19, 2012 3:09 AM

    You need to pull up some images of Aretha in the early '70s . She was about Jennifer Hudson's size. Halle is absolutely wrong for this part.

  • trina | January 18, 2012 11:57 PM

    Aretha Franklin in her prime was always a thin woman with great curves (not obese) Halle Berry is African-American also,Jennifer Hudson would be PERFECT she can sing and act..Halle can't do either..

  • sandra | January 18, 2012 11:37 PM

    Jennifer Hudson would be the better choice all around.
    To Orville-Aretha has not been obese all of her life.You need to be more knowledgeable.

  • Reggie | January 18, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    Jennifer Hudson needs to play Aretha. It's the only casting choice that makes sense.

  • KAREN D. | January 18, 2012 4:39 PM

    I concur!!! I also thought about Ms. Hudson also, before I read any comments. She would be the perfect choice. Her role in the movie Dreamgirls, simply seals the deal. Aretha and Jennifer are both Midwest girls, very spunky and have "big booming voices." Who could ask for anything more. But if Ms. Hudson isn't available, perhaps Ms. Jill Scott (can fill her shoes), because she's a wonderful actress, great singer and "fellow Aries" like Ms. Franklin. Can't think of no other actresses other than these "Two Diva" even playing this part. As for Halle, she's too soft spoken and too slim (for the part). Love me some Aretha, but she has never known for having any beauty queen looks like Halle. Maybe Halle could play Diana Ross? Just a thought!

  • MsWilliamsWorld | January 18, 2012 2:14 PMReply

    "Then Aretha said, but Halle, you don't have to sing, 'cause you'll be lip-synching my shit..."-->LOLOLOL....

  • Mecca | January 18, 2012 2:11 PMReply

    Aretha needs to hire broadway actress Patina Miller (Sister Act The Musical). She would be a suitable choice.

  • Nia | January 18, 2012 1:28 PMReply

    Maybe Blair Underwood is an ok choice, but Kerry, Nia Long and Halle look NOTHING alike and as far as I know NONE of them sing. Aretha needs to stop playing and get a theatre actress in this role. Methinks this project won't see the light of day for many many years until she stops with this nonsense -__-

  • Jana Sante | January 18, 2012 12:59 PMReply

    Ms Aretha's really still insisting on Halle Berry, huh? Remarkable.

  • julius hollingsworth | January 18, 2012 7:13 PM

    I'll say it again if Eddie Murphy can play old black ladies, Chinese old men and Stevie Wonder I guess with tons of make up Hallie Berry or anyone else can play anyone if they work at it.(lol)Good luck .The problem is how much are you willing to work to make it happen.Oh and by the way Kerry Washington can sing.I'm just waiting for when she's going to bring that secret weapon out.

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