Monday night’s preem of Warner Bros.’ “Joyful Noise” at the Chinese carried a strong sense of kismet for writer-director Todd Graff.
“I grew up in New York City around choirs because my mother was a choirmaster and my dad was a musician,” he said at the afterparty at the House of Blues. “So I had the idea of a gospel choir movie for about 15 years.”
Two years ago, he’d worked out a half-hour pitch that he began taking around town before landing it with Alcon’s Broderick Johnson — whose mother is in a gospel choir in Georgia. “We decided that we’d do it but only if we could get Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as the leads,” Johnson recalled.
Graff was particularly pleased that Sly Stone allowed him to use “I Want to Take You Higher” for the film’s climactic scene — with one small change.
“It’s hard to get Sly to license his songs,” Graff said. “He allowed us to change it so it’s now ‘He wants to take you higher.’ “