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Rewriting "Sparkle" - Whitney Houston's "Effie" Will Not Be A Maid

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 27, 2011 11:37 AM
27 Comments
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The remake of “Sparkle” is on the road to starting next month. Whitney Houston, already announced, will play Jordin Sparks‘s mother. In this version, Whitney’s character will not be a maid but a former R&B star who’s gone back to the church. I am told that Whitney will sing two gospel songs in the film.

Words from Roger Friedman at Showbiz411.com on the Sparkle remake, being developed by Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, which already has Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, Derek Luke, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, and Cee Lo Green in its cast, with rumors that Michael K. Williams will also feature.

Mary Alice played the role of "Effie," the mother of the sisters, in the original 1976 film.

Curious what influenced the Akil's decision to change her occupation... :)

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27 Comments

  • Donna Mahoney | February 18, 2012 4:54 PMReply

    I would like to know when this movie is playing.

  • Musicals | January 4, 2012 5:25 PMReply

    No dreamgirls is nothing like Sparkle. Sparkle was a bit darker with drug use and physical abuse on one of the main girl members of the group by her gangster boyfriend. Sister wanted to live a big time life and fell for who she thought was bigtime which led to her death.

    Irene cara was 16 and i believe sister was 22 or so. Dreamgirls had all 3 of the singers as young women in their teens with effie having a baby. None of the girls in sparkle had children and they all lived with their mama until sister left. Deena married her producer and lived a good life until she left him and dreamgirls spanned 2 decades into the 70s when disco hit.

    Sparkle is only told in the late 50's through that decade and none of the girls are portrayed as being married. Big differences. Whitney Houston would be my only reason to see it besides seeing what changes were made. I hope she does well. I'm pulling for her.

    The budget has been announced as $10mil and Joyful Noise as $32mil and Rock of Ages as $70mil via Budget for Sparkle revealed to be $10mil http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118047896?refCatId=13 Good luck wiht JN and ROA making money.

  • Mrs.K | November 13, 2011 11:08 AMReply

    I thought dreamgirls was the remake of sparkle

  • karin | October 16, 2011 6:04 AMReply

    dont like the casting at all.... Jordan Sparks as Sparkle?
    she doesn't have the sweet innocence that Irene Cara

    BUT they need NAMES to sell it I'm sure.

  • Theatre | October 11, 2011 1:49 AMReply

    To KBC

    You make great points but the whole thing about Hollywood going back to sequels and remakes is that familiarity by the original movie base reduces the risk of the film bombing and the studio losing money.

    As it is , there are few Black cast movies being made besides Tyler perry so this movie needs to do well. The only other Black cast movie on the horizon are Queen Latifah's 'Joyful Noise' and Terrance Howard/ jennifer Hudson's 'Winnie'.

    Winnie hasn't even been picked up for distribution after the TIFF and Joyful Noise doesn't come out til Jan 2012, until then, what other Black cast movies are coming out this year...crickets!

  • KBC | October 10, 2011 6:30 AMReply

    While I suppose they could do no worse than the original film (which isn't exactly a high-water mark of 70's cinema, not with that poor script and severely underlit photography), what's the point of paying for the rights if they're changing so much about it? They could just as easily call the film something else and not have to pay Warner Bros. for using the IP (title, characters, plot) from the original film.

  • charles | October 4, 2011 5:39 AMReply

    I predict you are wrong and get out of the past and if they woulda coulda shoulda. The movie has already been cast. Either support it or not. At least wait for the trailers.

    This has Sony's full support. Whitney and Debra Martin Chase have had this movie for over a decade developing it and trying to get it produced but then aaliyah died.

    Whitney will sing gospel and she will hit it out of the park, mark my words. She is a beast with gospel music even now as that is her roots.

    Michale k williams is not playing satin. mike epps is and he will suprise you. This movie will do well and it should so hopefully more black movies are made because outside of tyler perry there aren't any made so don't support if you want to but then don't cry when there are no black films being released.

    You listed all the good things about sparkle but didn't list the bad which was the production was awful. It was cheap, the lighting dark and there are so many things that can be improved on. The story will be a little different but it will have all those same elements that you listed.

    I'm looking forward to this with Whitney and R Kelly doing the music.

  • I Don't Think So | October 4, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    I'm sorry, but I just don't see it.

    1.) The original Sparkle was a heartwarming coming of age tale/love story that also happened to pretty realistically touch on everything from drug addiction, domestic violence, and teen sex, to class warfare, entrapment, payola, everyday street crime in the hood, and just the straight up struggle to be black in America. The movie was endearing and gritty at the same time. Jordin Sparks is not.

    2.) Although Sparkle was the focus, all the main characters had their own distinct and fully realized struggles. Honestly, the only two actors from the list I've read that I think could pull off any of the characters would be Derek Luke as Stix and Michael K. Williams as Satin. I'm sorry, I dont care how many successful, but clearly lightweight, inane melodramas Whitney has been in. She just cant carry the weight of Effie's role. All the girls were teenagers anyway - my vote would be for Taraji P. Henson as Effie, with her character having had been a teen mom....who was in an aspiring girl group in the 90's that "almost made it" before she started having babies. (Hey, why didn't they consult me on this?!?) She can sing (obviously not like Whitney, but neither can Whitney), she can rap and she can dance well enough to have been in 702, Kut Klose, The Good Girls, or any random (semi) one-hit wonder group from back in the day. And most importantly -- she can act!

    3.) Cutris Mayfield's soundtrack was Tha Shiznit! I suppose with Cee-Lo Green on board, we can expect some good music. But assuming Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter are playing Sista and Delores, I dont see anywhere where these girls can sing. Other than Dorian Harewood's character, who was also the only one who never had a solo, eveyone in the group sang thier own parts. Granted, Aretha hit the soundtrack out the park, while thesongs were pretty amatuer as sung in the movie. But at least they were heartfelt. I am actually as drawn to Lonette McKee's haunting version of "Giving Up" as I am to Donny Hathaway's pitch perfect one. And Irene Cara's voice was an ideal blend of innocence and raw power. It was unpolished, like a diamond in the rough -- as a 16 year old's voice should be. Think Stacy Lattisaw of the 80's. Aliyah of the 90's, Alicia Keys of the 00's (OK she was 20, but she had that sound).

    4.) Unless Omar Epps is there to provide SUBTLE comic relief, ala DJ Qualls' Shelby character in Husle & Flow, um...no.

    I predict straight to DVD.

  • THe real deal | October 4, 2011 4:24 AMReply

    Whitney will be fine. People want to dwell on her fall, but she has already gotten back up whether people want to accept that or not.

  • Castle | October 3, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    Can't wait to see this movie. I've loved whitney houston in all of her movies so I don't think she'll disappoint. I'll given jordin a chance. Carmen and derek luke as well as omari will bring it so thismovie should be good.

  • Hee-Haw | October 3, 2011 2:50 AMReply

    The Lord came into my life like an angel atop a steed; Jesus said to me: Whitney put down that weed. I stop smoking for a day, but when Jesus turned his back, I picked up the pipe and begin to smoke crack. Now I'm on my knees praying for redemption; Lord him my cry, this aint for attention. I need a new wig, tongue and teeth. Hell, at this point, I'll take anything you can bequeth. Lord, hear me now, I know your busy, but this is your homegirl Whitney! This is a song written by R. Kelly

  • jacquelyn | October 1, 2011 12:55 PMReply

    I am glad to see Whit back to work.

  • kenny | September 29, 2011 12:26 PMReply

    @Ronald Sutherland

    Just to let you know whitney has never had a movie flop unlike her peers. She also has quite a few production credits under her belt that most people are suprised to find out about.

    She owned her own production company called Brownhouse Productions. Debra Martin Chase worked for her.

    Together, they produced:
    Cinderella - success- ABC's highest viewing audience 60mil and highest selling dvd from a movie

    The princess Diaries 1 & 2 - grossed over $100mil

    The Cheetah Girls 1 & 2
    now she's executive producing and co-starring in Sparkle.

    Add to that, she has had 3 very successful movie soundtracks. many can't boast that.

    The bodyguard- 44mil cds sold worldwide- best selling soundtrack in the world, 3rd best selling cd by a woman in the world

    Waiting to Exhale- she executive produced it and handpicked all of the women who sung. She had approval/rejection control written into her contract
    7mil sold in the US 12mil WW

    The Preachers Wife sndtrk- 3mil US, 6mil WW, best selling gospel cd

    All of the above are nothing to sleep on. I'd say she has a very strong movie/production credit/soundtrack success on her resume.

    If this movie is a success and i think it will be. She's only been working on this for 11yrs and then she goes on and does 'getting to happy', 'waiting to exhale 2, her esume will be even stronger.

    i think she'd be a force to reckon just under Tyler Perry which is phenomenal for African Americans and for females. The good thing about Whitney is that she hasn't sold out movie wise. All of her movies are decent and doesn't show connery or harsh sterotypes.

  • realist | September 29, 2011 1:08 AMReply

    Hey what do ya'll think the budget will be for this movie? guesses? How much will it need to make to be considered successful? Thoughts?

  • CareyCarey | September 29, 2011 1:06 AMReply

    WOW! THANK YOU KENNY! That was right on time.

    I am so happy the tide didn't turn after someone dropped this mess-----> "I bet she’ll return to rehab two weeks into shooting"

    Why do our people lack compasion and understanding? Here’s a woman that’s given us years of joy and fond memories, only to fall down, yet get back up like a true trooper. However, some wish to drop salt on her and hold her down. Anyway, maybe it’s time I say the following words... “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end”

    "On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow." Friedrich Nietzsche

    Go Whitney! Do the damn thang.

  • claudia | September 29, 2011 1:05 AMReply

    Whitney's fine. I have no doubt she'll complete this. Obviously she got insurance. Let's not kid ourselves, she's the main draw.

    Mervyn Warren just signed on to produce the gospel songs she will sing. Just amped me up. He's the dude that co-produced The Preacher's Wife soundtrack with her. I love that cd. Takes me to church every time and he did her christmas album.

    Add R Kelly to the mix and the music should be swell


    mervynwarrenMervyn Warren
    looking fwd to producing #WhitneyHouston in #sparklemovie http://m.imdb.com/widget/iphone/prestitial?u=/title/tt1876451/ - also starring @JordinSparks.27 SepFavoriteRetweetReply


    @PatrikIanPolkPatrik-Ian Polk @mervynwarren U got the gig? Congrats!!!!! Knew you would! #Sparklemovie #soundtrack

    mervynwarrenMervyn Warren
    “@PatrikIanPolk: < not score; just song (4 now). thx! :-)

  • Ronald Sutherland | September 28, 2011 12:50 PMReply

    After The Bodyguard (1992) was released, I thought that she had an illustrious movie career ahead of her but it doesn’t seem like she ever lived up to her promise sadly due to focusing more on his music career and her personal problems. She only did Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996).
    I hope that she returns to movies. She is an underrated actress and should have joined the A-list years ago. So, I hope that after she makes a complete recovery soon, she does more mainstream movies, tries to reach her full potential as an actress and tries to win an Oscar.

  • Doubting Thomas | September 28, 2011 7:40 AMReply

    Debbie Downer Moment: I don't think Whitney will see this through. A movie from start to finish is very challenging, and I doubt she has the stamina to complete the project. I bet she'll return to rehab two weeks into shooting.

  • JMac | September 28, 2011 5:18 AMReply

    Not enough crack marijuana cigarettes in the world for her to play a drug addict. Don't think her fans would go see that either.

    @ Ronald, you're joking right? She's an okay actress. A-list potential- Hell naw.

  • Shawakatima | September 28, 2011 3:14 AMReply

    Why not a drug addict who has rediscovered the Lord? It would have a slightly autobiographical slant to it. Agree?

  • BondGirl | September 28, 2011 3:14 AMReply

    Well Hollywood loves a good comeback, so maybe Whitney can pull it off. Still not feeling that cast though.

  • Micah | September 28, 2011 3:02 AMReply

    Music is definitely going to be the big draw. If they make the film for between 10-25 million, I could see it easily making a profit. All you they need is good songs for the vocal talent to tie in with the film.

    I think grossing between 20-50 is not completely unreasonable with a decent push and marketing campaign. Music and film have feed off each other many times before when it comes to sales.

    Mediocre films have been pushed over the top with good music tie ins.

    Films like Blackboard Jungle even become culture touchstones with the use of fitting music.

  • Orville | September 28, 2011 2:11 AMReply

    Whitney Houston is a superstar singer she is NOT going to be a maid. Whitney is just too beautiful and talented to take on the role as a domestic. So it makes sense that Whitney will be a singer in the new version of sparkle.

  • joe | September 28, 2011 2:02 AMReply

    Exactly, the tyler perry crowd. Whitney goes back to her roots, have a real connection to the church and gospel music etc. tyler perry crowd is faithful.

    plus whitney is a singer, silly hot to use that background.

  • Cherish | September 28, 2011 1:45 AMReply

    Why the heck is it titled Sparkle with these rewrites...

  • JMac | September 28, 2011 1:24 AMReply

    I doubt the change had anything to do with The Help. I'm sure this was allll Whitney. She's not going to appear in any movie without singing a few songs. As limited as Effie's role is in the original, they'd have to find some way to expand it and give Ms. Houston some shine. It'll also capture the black Christian, Tyler Perry crowd. Heathen music vs. Church music. Shug Avery vs. Preacher Dad. There's no good black drama w/o that conflict.

  • ShebaBaby | September 27, 2011 12:54 PMReply

    sigh...

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