Sparkle tells the story of a 19-year-old innocent young woman growing up in late 1960′s Detroit, who dreams of becoming a music star. Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), Sister (Carmen Ejogo) and Dee (Tika Sumpter) are sisters who love each other fiercely, but each have their own ambitions. When they form a girl group and set out to take the music world by storm, the harsh realities of the spotlight take their toll on the girls and threaten to tear apart the tight knit family, which also includes their less than supportive mother (Whitney Houston). The film also stars Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick and CeeLo Green.
At the film’s press day, producer Debra Martin Chase talked about the 12-year journey of bringing Sparkle to the big screen, how Aaliyah was originally set to star, how proud Whitney Houston would be of her work in the film, what made Jordin Sparks the right choice for the role of Sparkle, and what moment from the shoot stands out the most for her. She also talked about her overall producing deal with ABC, and how she’s developing the remake of Dirty Dancing, which has been pushed until Spring 2013, in order to give them time to find the right actors for Baby and Johnny. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
It was just in November when I traveled out to Detroit for a day on the set of Sparkle, Whitney Houston’s posthumous film about music, growing up in church, and finding your way. A remake of the 70’s movie, it is set at the height of the civil rights movement and Motown boom in Detroit, and chronicles a family whose daughters form a singing group—modeled after The Supremes—and their journey to find success in uncertain times. It is apparent that those in charge are dedicated to making the film authentic and successful. American Idol winner Jordin Sparks plays the title character Sparkle, the dark horse in the singing group. Houston, in her anticipated return to the screen, stars as the girls’ mother. Though the plot may feel familiar, after having talked extensively with the cast and crew, it is clear that there is a personality to this story. The film is rooted in family values, and has an elevated, sophisticated tone. More after the jump.
It was just in November when a group of journalists and I spent a day at a church in the outskirts of Detroit, where the film Sparkle was shooting. We spent half a day in interviews with the cast until finally it was announced that “Ms. Houston” was here. There are rumors of what charisma is like: Being in Whitney Houston‘s company, the air took on a sharper more pronounced feel, everyone was seemingly in a trance in her presence because it was that absorbing. With warm glowing skin and exquisite features, visually she was arresting, but it was her candor that was so affecting. Equally ready to hand out praise or tough love, she seemed compelled to speak the truth. Her exuberance for the project sprung from her great respect for the civil rights movement (the era in which Sparkle is set), as well as the potential for this film to showcase a beautiful image of African Americans. This is a film, she conveyed, that will make families want to go to the movies. Her charm is one that now in the current landscape of calculated personas, feels antiquated and unmatchable. After a day of interviews, I recall noting what a self-possessed sense of ease Houston had; from both the brief time with her and the conversations with her castmates, she seemed a natural leader who had visibly, and yet quietly, charmed and encouraged the rest of the cast.
Hit the jump for the full interview between Houston (also an executive producer on the film) and Debra Martin Chase, her producing partner on Cindarella and The Preacher’s Wife . They talked about why they wanted to do the project, what it was like for Houston to be in front of the camera again, the soundtrack, and so much more.