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Biopic Casting and Beating A Dead Horse Franchise: Trade News

By Jodi Smith | Industry | January 29, 2018 |

By Jodi Smith | Industry | January 29, 2018 |


It’s been slow in news that doesn’t involve Grammy Awards or garbage people, but I have some information that may help. I also have some that will not help.

As we mentioned last night, Jennifer Hudson has been cast to play Aretha Franklin in the overdue biopic about the life of the Queen of Soul. Hudson won an Oscar for her performance in Dream Girls and was chosen by Franklin herself for the leading role. The casting announcement was made at this year’s pre-Grammy party held by music producer legend Clive Davis.

MGM is the studio aiming to bring Franklin’s life story to the big screen. So far, only Hudson, producer Scott Bernstein, and musical producer Harvey Mason Jr. (Dreamgirls) are attached, but hopefully this biopic will go the distance and make it to theaters. It’s mostly male icons that get their life story made into movies, so Franklin’s 60 year career certainly deserves attention.

Franklin began singing gospel as a child in her father’s church before her mainstream success with a string of hits in the late ’60s. Franklin has been recognized with honorary degrees, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, multiple Grammy Awards, and was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I look forward to seeing her inspiring and iconic career onscreen.


In more biopic news, Tom Hanks has been cast in You Are My Friend as Mr. Fred Rogers. The film’s script follows the friendship of Mr. Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. The two met when Junod was given the task of writing a profile of the beloved children’s television legend, which he didn’t want to do. As with all people who met Rogers, Junod’s life was changed by their eventual friendship.

You Are My Friend will be directed by Marielle Heller (Diary Of A Teenage Girl) and the script, written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, was on The Black List in 2013. The film is expected to begin production this fall.

Last of all, Steven Spielberg is expected to remake West Side Story. Whatever. Before he does that, he would like to direct Indiana Jones 5: Beating A Dead Horse.

The unnecessary sequel is expected in 2020 and Harrison Ford is set to reprise his title role.

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Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.