Whitney Houston surfaces.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Whitney Houston is in talks to join the cast of “Sparkle,” a Sony Pictures remake of the 1976 musical drama of the same name. Mara Brock Akil did the rewrite and Salim Akil will direct. Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps are already in the cast.
“Sparkle” told the story of a “Supremes” like girl group–the rise to fame of a trio of sisters from their church choir singing roots and the trouble that causes. One gets involved with drugs, another gets sick of the business and finally youngest sister Sparkle finds success on her own as a solo act. Sparks, making her acting debut, will play Sparkle, a role played by Irene Cara in the original. Houston would play Effie, the girls mother; Mary Alice originated that role.
I know, it sounds like “Dreamgirls.” However, “Sparkle was made about five years before “Dreamgirls” debuted on Broadway; it was definitely the same idea, but from all reports just wasn’t done as well. “Dreamgirls” was put together by a powerhouse of Broadway talent, led by the legendary director Michael Bennett, who used innovative staging and sets to make that musical something no one had ever seen before. “Sparkle,” on the other hand, was written by Joel Schumacher. Yes, that Joel Schumacher–the workmanlike genre director who’s done some good–”The Lost Boys,” “Flatliners”–some really bad–”Batman & Robin,” “The Phantom of the Opera”–and a lot of really middling stuff in between. So the script isn’t supposed to be very good, and with first time director Sam O’Steen in charge, it isn’t put together that well. Judging from reviews, the upside is a hardworking cast and a score by Curtis Mayfield (it sounds kind of intriguing; might have to add this to the queue).
Houston has a previous association with the film–she was supposed to be a producer on a remake planned by Warner Brothers years ago, with singer Aaliyah starring; Aaliyah died in a plane crash before the project got going. Houston hasn’t acted since an appearance on TV in a 1997 production of “Cinderella.” She did star in some other movies in the ’90s, such as megahit “The Bodyguard” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” As an actress, Whitney was a very good singer.
No word on when this would all happen, and the key roles of the other sisters–especially the plum role of the oldest sister, named, well, Sister–still need to be cast.