So, I assume that by now we've all settled into the news that American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino will star as gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in a new biographical film, right?
If not, well, better get used it, because it's pretty much a done deal, with Euzhan Palcy directing from a script based on the Jules Schwerin book, Got to Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel.
A few new bits of news about the project have surfaced that I thought worth sharing, all courtesy of a New York Post profile of the film printed on their website earlier this morning.
First, one significant item we didn't yet know, and thus haven't reported yet, is the film's budget. The New York Post lists it at $23.9 million, which, I think is actually a healthy amount, given the focus and the talent involved, and the fact that it falls under Hollywood's "black film" umbrella - films that usually don't get that much money. Although I believe this project is independently financed.
Secondly, Fantasia reportedly has a deal that would get her a percentage of the film's box office gross! Whoa! That's unheard of for a talent of her stature, isn't it? Only folks like Will Smith get those kinds of back-end deals. There still isn't a lot of info available on this, but I'm guessing Fantasia might be getting a producer credit as well.
And lastly, the movie is endorsed by Mahalia Jackson's estate, who have granted exclusive worldwide rights to Mahalia’s story, the name “Mahalia” and “Mahalia Jackson”, as have given their approval of eighteen of Ms. Jackson's original recordings, for use in the film and the soundtrack CD.
Production was supposed to begin in April, but I'm not sure that it actually has yet.