Sony Pictures is rounding up a sparkling cast for its remake of the 1976 music-themed pic “Sparkle”: Whitney Houston is in negotiations to join “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps in the film, which Salim Akil is directing from a script by Mara Brock Akil.
Debra Martin Chase, TD Jakes and Curtis Wallace are producing along with the Akils, while Houston will exec produce with Howard Rosenman and Gaylyn Fraiche.
TriStar Pictures will distribute the film in association with Stage 6 Films. Production is skedded to start next month.
Original pic followed three sisters who begin singing in their church choir in Harlem in the late 1950s and go on to become a successful girl group. Their sudden rise unravels their personal lives.Remake will be set in 1968 Detroit during the rise of Motown. Story will focus on the youngest sister, a music prodigy named Sparkle (Sparks), and her struggle to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart.
“Sparkle” will mark Houston’s first starring film role in 15 years; she last toplined Penny Marshall’s 1996 pic “The Preacher’s Wife.” The Grammy-winning recording artist previously starred in “Waiting to Exhale and “The Bodyguard.”
Project reunites director Akil with Epps, who starred in the helmer’s wedding pic “Jumping the Broom.” That pic grossed more than $37 million domestically earlier this year. Epps, best known for his comedic turns in “The Hangover” and “The Honeymooners,” has been showcasing his dramatic chops of late: He recently wrapped the indie thriller “Vipaka,” which stars Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie. Epps’ next gig is hosting this year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards.
Sparks, who won the sixth season of “American Idol,” is a Grammy-nominated platinum recording artist who will make her feature film debut in “Sparkle.”
Sparks is repped by CAA, while WME reps Houston. Epps is repped by ICM.