I have to preface this blog with the following…SPARKLE IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE. Hands down, of all time, I can repeat from opening song to finale, point, blank, period! Okay, so now that I’ve established my feelings on the original, I will try to be as fair as possible while I discuss this remake. Yep, fellow Sparkle fans, it is being remade with a tenative release scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013.
Okay here are the positives about this remake. One, Whitney Houston is co-starring as the mom of the three singing sisters from…wait, will it still be 1950’s Harlem? Don’t know, but she will be portraying the Effie Williams character. Sidebar for fellow Dreamgirls fans, Sparkle was made in 1976 and provided some inspiration for the 80’s phenomenon, including the name of powerhouse Jennifer Holliday’s character “Effie.” I am excited for Ms. Houston and hope this does well for her film comeback.
Second positive, this vehicle is being driven in the very capable hands of the Akils (Girlfriends, The Game, Jumping The Broom) with Salim directing, Mara penning the script and both serving as co-producers. Now, I pray that Mara’s script doesn’t stray too far from the original while simultaneously adding a little more depth to the characters; much like Ntozake Shange accomplished with the book she wrote for Freedom Theater’s (Philadelphia, PA) stage play version directed by Walter Dallas several years back. Remember the scene where Dolores is preparing to leave home and is very condescending towards her mother? Well Ntozake added the response from mom that many original fans like me appreciated. In other words, Effie gave the real and didn’t just stand there like a bump on a log :). For those who may not know, the original was written by Joel Schumacher, who went on to become a successful director with such films as The Lost Boys, A Time to Kill and the Batman franchise movies (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) just to name a few. Now I am a fan but let’s be honest, there is an element of the African American ghetto life experience that he wasn’t able to pen in the original; so Ntozake’s version was a refreshing update. I believe Mrs. Akil is capable of this as well and am curious to see how she handles. Another sidebar, Schumacher also wrote the screenplays for both Car Wash and The Wiz.
Another positive, it’s reported that original music will remain (YES!) and new songs added will be produced by R. Kelly. The original soundtrack was both composed and produced by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, who was the go to man during this period. His track record prior to Sparkle included the Super Fly, Claudine and Let’s Do It Again soundtracks. The featured vocalist on the Sparkle soundtrack was none other than the “Queen of Soul” Ms. Aretha Franklin, or simply “Reefa” to some members of my family when I was growing up. You know some of your friends/family called her that! Come on, you never heard anyone call Luther Vandross “Lufa?” Be honest :). See link for the En Vogue remake of the classic “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” below (note: original “Levi” Dorian Harewood has cameo).
Now on to the big question, who is playing Sparkle? Well, that would be season 6 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. Now, I am not mad at this choice vocally, but I must reserve my opinion about her acting ability. She has some tough shoes to fill, Irene Cara’s to be exact, but Jennifer Hudson gave an Oscar worthy performance first time out the box (Dreamgirls) so anything is possible. What I’m not too happy about? Derek Luke being cast opposite Sparks as Stix. Why? Okay, Phillip Michael Thomas is not the most memorable singer, but he did sing. Stix’s character is a singer/songwriter. Can Derek Luke even sing? Can he hold a tune? Yes, he’s a remarkable actor and probably will lip sync, but I’m just saying. Remember this is my favorite movie and I am trying to be nice :). Alright, moving on!
I could continue on ranting and making comparisons, but instead will summarize that Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick, Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter (CW’s Gossip Girls) round out the main cast as Satin, Levi, Sister, and Delores. Sidebar: Ms. Ejogo is an actress/singer who is married to the very talented Mr. Jeffrey Wright. Satin’s character’s has been revamped as a comedian, not a gangster like in the original, so I won’t comment about Mike Epps playing Satin; but rather will reserve my opinion to see how the script changes shape the story. I will say that I enjoyed Mike Epps in Jumping the Broom and I hope this gives him an opportunity to show another dimension. Cee Lo Green has also been added to the cast, reportedly to play the opening act for the Williams sisters. Lastly, I am very happy that fashion designer b. Michaels and two time Oscar nominated costume designer Ruth Carter are designing the costumes for this film. The gowns are going to be fierce!
Okay, today’s blog is quite lengthy and I apologize. I’m just passionate about this project and am looking forward to the release. Are you a fan of the original movie? Who would you have cast as Sparkle? Stix? What was your favorite song from the soundtrack? Until next thought, Thomasena.
“Giving Him Something He Can Feel” (En Vogue 1992 Funky Divas): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2RKb1R7jM0&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL67B2A462C5B62610