The Word Garage

The Word Garage

Early Edition: Whitney Houston Has Big Screen Comeback; Juliette Lewis Preps Rock Doc; More

Here’s another remake to add to your list: ‘Sparkle,’ a redo of the 1976 music drama about three sisters who begin singing in their church choir in Harlem in the late 1950s and go on to become a successful girl group. Whitney Houston is in negotiations to join ‘American Idol’ winner Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps in the production, which is being put together by Sony and will be released on the studio’s Tri-Star Pictures label. Sparks will play the lead character and Houston will play her mother; the remake will take place in 1968 Detroit.

This will be Houston’s first starring film role in 15 years; she last had a lead in Penny Marshall’s 1996 ‘The Preacher’s Wife.’ [Deadline]

Juliette Lewis is directing a rock documentary about herself, and hoping to bring it to Sundance in January. In addition to her impressive acting career, Lewis is a rock singer, performing and cutting albums with bands Juliette and the Licks and the New Romantiques. According to a report in Variety, Lewis said that the film won’t be a vanity project, but rather an exploration of how performing live as a singer became a full-time primary career. Lewis’ producing partners have gone through about 400 hours of footage and have put together a nearly finished cut of the yet-to-be-titled film. [Variety]

Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo will direct the Summit Entertainment remake of ‘Highlander’ now that Justin Lin has committed to the next ‘Fast and the Furious’ opus. Fresnadillo helmed the very excellent ’28 Weeks Later,’ so he should be able to breathe new life into the 25-year-old property. [Deadline]

A quartet of top British stars will join Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, ‘Quartet,’ a drama about a group of retired opera singers who get together to put on a party for the birthday of Giuseppe Verdi only to have their plans rattled when a grand dame of the opera shows up too. Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins are the four that join Sheridan Smith and Michael Gambonin the production that begins shooting this week in England. [EW]

Shirley MacLaine has signed on to star in the indie production ‘The Locals,’ a contemporary Jewish/Italian version of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Alan Arkin and Vera Farmiga are in negotiations to join the film, which is being written and directed by Sue Kramer (‘Gray Matters’). Production will begin this fall in the Bronx. [Deadline]