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Jennifer Hudson seems to be the obvious choice. On Tuesday, the Queen of Soul’s spokeswoman announced that Franklin is scheduled to meet with “the director and financiers” of “From These Roots” to “discuss her final casting selections for the biopic.”
The rep also released Franklin’s short list of casting actor suggestions for the characters who will appear in her story. The 69-year-old diva wants “Big Momma’s House” actress Nia Long to play her older sister Erma Franklin; “Ray” actress Kerry Washington to take the role of her younger sister Carolyn Franklin and “The Event” actor.
She also wants Blair Underwood to play her brother Cecil Franklin. As she’s said previously, she sees “Red Tails” actor Terrence Howard in the part of Motown great Smokey Robinson, and Oscar winner Denzel Washington playing her father, the Rev. Cecil Franklin. Aretha’s spokeswoman stressed that these names are a “wish list,” and said the actors had yet to be contacted about appearing in “From These Roots.”
We suspect, however, that Franklin broached the subject with Underwood. On Jan. 7, she was photographed with him at the taping of the Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, where her father was honored.
The director of Franklin’s biopic has yet to be announced. Weirdly, Franklin’s list did not include whom she’d like to play her in the movie. In 2010 she said her top choice was Halle Berry (who then angered the singer by saying she couldn’t “do justice” to the part because she can’t sing).
While we hear Berry is still under consideration, the money increasingly seems to be on Hudson, who, like Franklin, hails from the Midwest, can sing beautifully and has shouldered family tragedy.
In 1979, Cecil Franklin was shot, reportedly during an attempted home robbery. He spent five years in a coma before dying. In 2008, Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donnerson, 57, brother Jason, 29, and nephew Julian King were murdered.
Franklin’s wish list also did not include an actor to play her new fiancé, William Wilkerson, 64, and we hear that some sources in Franklin’s camp are skeptical that she’ll actually go through with the planned summer wedding.
One insider notes that Franklin, who was briefly engaged to Wilkerson — a close confidant and member of the singer’s security team — in 1987, has already changed her mind about the location of the wedding, from Miami Beach to the Hamptons. The source says that’s a telling detail.