MJ's L.O.V.E. Is Magical

Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

Post by Admin on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:59 pm

Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'
By NICOLE SPERLING Los Angeles Times

Aug. 16, 2012
LOS ANGELES - In one of the final scenes in the new musical drama "Sparkle," Whitney Houston, playing a strict, religious-minded mother and former star, teases Jordin Sparks, playing her daughter, that she won't sit too close to the front of the auditorium to watch the girl make her singing debut for fear of upstaging her.
Unfortunately, the untimely death of the Grammy-winning singer-actress in February threatens to do just that - Houston's posthumous presence is stealing at least some of the spotlight from Sparks, the "American Idol" winner who, in her inaugural film performance, plays the title role.

Opening Friday, "Sparkle" is a remake of the 1976 film starring Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas, which was regarded by many, especially in the African-American community, as a landmark movie moment. The story centers on a family of three talented sisters being raised by a single mother whose own show business dreams were ended by addiction and an unplanned pregnancy.

The remake, which was directed by Salim Akil ("Jumping the Broom") from a script by his wife and professional partner, Mara Brock Akil, relocates the setting from 1950s Harlem to 1960s Detroit. Houston performs one song in the movie, "His Eyes Are on the Sparrow," in a scene set in a church.

Sony Pictures, the studio behind the $14-million film, had scheduled "Sparkle" for its late-summer release long before the singer's death, calculating that mid-August would be an ideal time to attract older female moviegoers. After Houston was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Sony decided to stick to its plan.

"There was never a discussion about moving it up," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is distributing the project through its TriStar label. But he acknowledged the delicacy of the situation. "Right after her passing, we wanted to err on the side of not emphasizing her too much."

It's not the first time film marketers have had to walk the difficult line of selling a movie marred by tragedy. In the summer of 2008, Warner Bros. crafted a campaign for "The Dark Knight" that didn't downplay the presence of Heath Ledger's Joker but also didn't over-hype the presence of the actor who had died of a drug overdose months earlier.

In October 2009, Sony released the Michael Jackson concert film "This Is It" after the pop star died in the middle of rehearsals for a series of upcoming stadium performances, positioning the backstage documentary as a tribute to Jackson's musical legacy.

In the case of "Sparkle," Houston not only appears on screen but was also instrumental behind the scenes. She and producer Debra Martin Chase acquired the remake rights 12 years ago - the duo had produced the 2001 Anne Hathaway-starrer "The Princess Diaries" together - and saw the project through many starts and stops. (Pop star Aaliyah was initially cast in the lead before the 22-year-old was killed in a plane crash.)

"There is a difference between exploiting a tragedy and marketing something that was someone's livelihood," Vincent Bruzzese, president of market research firm Ipsos OTX. "Whitney Houston did this movie, acted in this movie and obviously wanted the movie to do well. Of course, you don't want to have a campaign that says, 'See the movie, Whitney would have wanted it that way.'"

Bruzzese pointed out that the marketing campaign for "Sparkle" mirrors other films of its kind, including 2006's "Dreamgirls" and 2010's "Burlesque." The film's trailer and television commercials have the traditional feel of a movie musical: a lot of drum beats, some flashy dance numbers and indications that the main conflict lies between the mother's traditional philosophy and the girls' desire to perform.

Recently Sony has ramped up Houston's presence in its ads, releasing a new TV spot featuring Houston's singing voice as the backdrop, with a voice-over saying, "Celebrate the legend." Blake says it's a natural evolution.

"Now there will be some spots that will celebrate what (this movie) is: a great performance by Whitney in her last film," he said.

Traditional tracking numbers indicate that the film is likely to perform in a similar range to "Burlesque," the Sony Screen Gems film that opened to $12 million and grossed close to $40 million domestically.

"Sparkle" could outpace those numbers at the box office, though, should the studio successfully attract the interest of the older black female demographic, which is not easily measured in pre-release surveys. Those surveys typically target active moviegoers who in any given year see at least six movies.

"Whether it's Tyler Perry, 'Sex and the City' or 'Passion of the Christ,' there are certain movies that bring out those people who wouldn't qualify for a tracking survey," Bruzzese said. "In this case, the older black female. Maybe she goes to the movies one to two times a year and this is one of them. That's a substantial audience, but how big it is is difficult to tell."

For the moviegoers who do turn up at theaters, though, there are sure to be moments when the character Houston plays on screen - a woman who regrets the mistakes of her past and is determined to keep her daughters from repeating them - will bring up troubling reminders of Houston's own story.

Said "Sparkle" executive producer Howard Rosenman, who wrote the screenplay for the 1976 movie: "What was so tragic and ironic about this part is she played a character who served as her own cautionary tale."

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


RIP Whitney

_________________
Michael Jackson transcended our imaginations and continues to uplift our souls and spirits through his tremendously meaningful life well lived.
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 6059
Join date : 2012-07-22
Location : USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

Post by Capricious Anomaly on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:35 am

Anybody see this movie with Whitney?

RIP WH
avatar
Capricious Anomaly

Posts : 1446
Join date : 2012-07-23
Age : 50
Location : USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

Post by midangerous on Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:23 pm

Sounds like a great film.
avatar
midangerous

Posts : 3089
Join date : 2012-07-23
Age : 28
Location : United States

Back to top Go down

Re: Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:28 pm

I haven't seen this yet-I hope to but if not I can order it on On Demand (for 10 bucks tho) - they have the 'same day as theaters' feature now
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 6059
Join date : 2012-07-22
Location : USA

Back to top Go down

Film "Sparkle" recalls a time when Detroit shined

Post by Admin on Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:21 pm

Film "Sparkle" recalls a time when Detroit shined By Eddie B. Allen Jr.

DETROIT Aug 23, 2012

DETROIT (Reuters) - A two-story house on West Grand Boulevard was once a music-makers' paradise, but is now a monument - a museum, really - to a colorful city that, behind new movie "Sparkle", is recalling its past with renewed pride.

The home of Motown Records, which became known as Hitsville USA during the record label's 1960s heyday, looked like many others on its block. But behind its walls, business was anything but usual, and "Sparkle" seems to have captured the magic of the times, city residents told Reuters in recent interviews.

Young men and women, some barely out of their teens, wrote and recorded songs that were the driving force in building the multimillion-dollar label that launched the careers of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, among many others, giving Detroit an identity around the globe.

Last weekend's release of updated 1976 musical drama "Sparkle" brought a wave of nostalgia to die-hard fans of the Motown Sound and Detroiters excited to see their city reflected positively on screen after years of struggle, including an auto industry that had fallen on tough times.

The movie features characters who hark back to a special era, plus cultural landmarks such as Baker's Keyboard Lounge and Cliff Bell's nightclub, which are still in operation today.

Life-long Detroiter Blanche Ussery, who saw "Sparkle" with her family, noted a few omissions and minor inaccuracies, but said the story mostly captured the spirit of the city.

"I thought it was pretty much reminiscent of the times," Ussery said.

Strikingly accurate, she said, was the courtship between "Sparkle" co-stars Jordin Sparks and Derek Luke, which brought to mind a simpler time in Detroit. Luke's character pursued Sparks' protagonist at church, much like Ussery's husband sought her at People's Community parish, where they eventually married.

Cameo appearances in the film like that of Universal Motown recording artist and Detroit resident Kem, whose soulful love songs often pay homage to original Motown talents, also gave the movie an air of familiarity.

MUSIC STARS, EVERYDAY PEOPLE

Joe Spencer, a restaurateur and retired Detroit TV executive who earned writing credits on albums by Edwin Starr, singer of 1970 hit "War", and girl group The Marvelettes, who scored with "Please Mr. Postman", recalled the mood at Hitsville in its heyday. It was not unusual to find Diana Ross rehearsing in one area while singer William "Smokey" Robinson listened to unreleased songs down the hall.

"Here you were in the same place with some of the world's greatest songwriters and hitmakers, and they were everyday people, too," Spencer said.

Dorothy Simpson, who opened Simpson's Record Shop in 1966, said she largely owes the success of her still-operating store to Motown. Teenagers who pined for the latest single by The Temptations, Marvin Gaye or Martha & The Vandellas regularly filed into line in front of Simpson's cash register.

"We had them just about every day," Simpson says of the young customers. "That's what got us started, Motown."

Motown Museum CEO Allen Rawls, who auditioned for the label as a teen, said the company's legacy still shines decades after Detroit itself began an economic decline. The city's population - now just over 700,000 - is about half what it was in 1970.

Brazelton's Florist and James H. Cole Funeral Home are among the Motown Museum's few neighbors still serving a community that survived a deadly 1967 urban rebellion, a drug epidemic, and years of joblessness.

It's a tribute to the music - and to Detroit - that people who speak little English tour Motown, and "if a song comes on, they know every word", said Rawls.

The label eventually became property of Universal Music after founder Berry Gordy sold the company in 1972, having already moved the headquarters to Los Angeles.

"When they left, I think it created a big hole in Detroit's soul - and not just the music," Spencer said, noting the "social pride" the city felt as a breeding ground for music stars.

Michelle McKinney, an archives staffer at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, said Motown also was a soundtrack for the real lives of fans like her. She was almost an adult when she discovered the songs that her mother had banned from their home, calling them "sinful".

"The music helped me recognize what love was, so I really owe Motown a debt of gratitude," McKinney said.

Motown also helped Detroiters become socially conscious, and some of the museum's exhibits link song lyrics to struggles for civil rights being waged throughout America in the 1960s.

"It made us a community," said McKinney. "We had our own movie stars and singing stars. We had some people to be proud of, from Detroit. They were our royalty."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Dale Hudson)

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]



[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

_________________
Michael Jackson transcended our imaginations and continues to uplift our souls and spirits through his tremendously meaningful life well lived.
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 6059
Join date : 2012-07-22
Location : USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Whitney Houston's presence felt in 'Sparkle'

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum