Liesl Tommy’s Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” dropped its first trailer this weekend. The film is the feature film debut for the director, after becoming the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed. Tommy is also an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep, and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees.
The cast includes Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin; Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin; Marlon Wayans as Ted White; Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin; Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland; Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler; Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin; Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin; Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin; Heather Headley as Clara Ward; Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin; Tate Donovan as John Hammond; and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.
Callie Khouri and Tracey Scott Wilson wrote the story, and Wilson also wrote the screenplay. Wilson and Tommy have worked together creatively since the 2009 play The Good Negro, which was written by Wilson and directed by Tommy, at The Public Theatre. Wilson was a writer on FX’s “The Americans” drama series which garnered her a Peabody Award as well as Emmy and WGA Award nominations.
The movie’s description reads, “Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.”
Scott Bernstein, Harvey Mason Jr., and Jonathan Glickman served as producers on the project, with Stacy Sher, Jennifer Hudson, Sue Baden-Powell, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Jason Cloth serving as executive producers.
This is the first trailer that MGM has released for the film, and a full-length trailer will most likely be released over the next few weeks. The film is expected to hit theaters this December, but the studio stopped short of announcing which weekend.
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