×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Liesl Tommy to Direct Aretha Franklin Biopic ‘Respect’

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures is moving ahead on its Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” tapping stage director Liesl Tommy to direct.

MGM set the project in motion a year ago when it was announced that Jennifer Hudson — who won a supporting actor Oscar for “Dreamgirls” — had been personally selected for the role by Franklin. The singer, who died in August, won 17 Grammy Awards, starting with “Respect” in 1968 and “Chain of Fools” in 1969.

Hudson proved she had the pipes to portray the legendary artist earlier this year, when she performed a rousing, pitch-perfect medley of Franklin’s hits at Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala.

MGM also said that Callie Khouri, who wrote “Thelma & Louise” and is the creator of “Nashville,” would write the screenplay following the rise of Franklin’s career, from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to a superstar.

Tradecraft’s Scott Bernstein, who produced “Straight Outta Compton,” and Harvey Mason, Jr., who has written and produced songs for both Franklin and Hudson, are serving as producers on the film.

Tommy received six Tony Award nominations for “Eclipsed,” including best director. She is also on board to helm “Born A Crime,” Paramount Players’ adaptation of the autobiography by Trevor Noah, starring Lupita Nyong’o.

“The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time,” Tommy said. “As a filmmaker there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers.”

More Film

  • Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' Companion Album to

    Alfonso Cuarón's New 'Roma' Album to Feature Beck, Patti Smith, El-P, T Bone Burnett

    Not to be outdone by Ariana Grande’s impending record news, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has announced the track list and release date for his new album, which, coincidentally, is also due Feb. 8. He’s the curator of “Music Inspired by the Film Roma,” which was already teased by a Billie Eilish track, and is now revealed [...]

  • The Beach Bum Trailer

    Watch: Matthew McConaughey Stars in Groovy New 'The Beach Bum' Trailer

    Matthew McConaughey takes on new levels of drug use in the latest trailer for “The Beach Bum.” True to the film’s title, the trailer opens on a trashy beach town stage where McConaughey’s character Moondog is waiting to accept some sort of musical award. “Before I accept whatever award it is they’re giving me today, [...]

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    SAG Awards Unveils Presenters After Accusing Academy of 'Intimidation'

    The SAG Awards has unveiled its first round of presenters, including Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Rami Malek, Chadwick Boseman, Adam Driver, Sam Elliott, and Constance Wu. Wednesday’s announcement comes two weeks after SAG-AFTRA accused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of intimidation in trying to limit actors from presenting on awards shows other [...]

  • Kevin Hart Fatherhood

    Kevin Hart Partnering With STX on Two Comedies (EXCLUSIVE)

    Kevin Hart is partnering with STXfilms to produce on a pair of comedy movies through his HartBeat Productions with an eye to star in both projects, Variety has learned exclusively. The announcement comes on the heels of Hart’s solid box office performance in “The Upside,” in which he co-stars with Bryan Cranston. STX’s comedic drama, co-produced [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Disruptor Netflix Joins Big Studios at the Table With MPAA Membership, Analysts Say

    Netflix is starting to look a lot like the media institutions it has been disrupting for years. In one fell swoop on Tuesday, the streaming giant racked up an impressive 15 Academy Award nominations, including a best picture nod for Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white, Spanish-language drama “Roma.” Hours later came official word that the company had [...]

  • Italy's Notorious Pictures Expands Into Exhibition,

    Italy's Notorious Pictures Expands Into Exhibition, Plans 200 Screens by 2023

    Italian distribution and production company Notorious Pictures is branching out into exhibition, aiming to have 20 multiplexes up and running within the next five years. The company has appointed former UCI Italy chief Andrea Stratta to head up a new Notorious Cinemas unit. The company said it was already in the process of taking out a [...]

  • cats logo

    As 'Cats' Starts Production, Downtown Lands Admin Deal for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music (EXCLUSIVE)

    Downtown Music Publishing has entered into a multi-year publishing administration deal with Faber Music, which represents the musical repertoire from “Cats,” the beloved and long-running Broadway sensation currently being turned into a feature film starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Idris Elba and Judi Dench, among others. The Universal picture, directed by Tom Hooper, recently [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content