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First Aretha Franklin biopic trailer commands "Respect"

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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The upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic is demanding a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T in its first preview trailer.

A just-released 44-second teaser for "Respect" shows star Jennifer Hudson, in gold lame dress and wig, belting out a stylized version of the title song in front of a lighted Respect sign. The clip declares that Hudson -- who's also co-starring in the recently opened film version of "Cats" -- IS Aretha Franklin and urges viewers to "Find out what it means."

The film is due out in 2020, but no specific release date has been announced. Leisl Tommy is directing and the cast also includes Forest Whitaker as her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as her first husband Ted White, Audra McDonald as Franklin' smother, Broadway veterans Saycon Sengloh and Hailey Kilgore as sisters Erma and Carolyn Franklin, Marc Maron as producer Jerry Wexler, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington and Titus Burgess as the Rev. Dr. James Cleveland.

Skye Dakota Turner, who portrayed a young Anna Mae Bullock in "Tina: The Tina Turner Musical" on Broadway, will play Franklin as a youth in the film. The script was written by "Nashville" veteran Callie Khouri.

Franklin was hands-on in helping to put together before her death in August of 2018 and had identified Hudson as her hand-picked favorite to portray her over the course of several years. Hudson performed "Amazing Grace" at Franklin's funeral in Detroit.

During an appearance to promote "Cats" last week on CBS' "The Late Show," Hudson told host Stephen Colbert that Franklin had actually approached her about the role back in 2007, when they met in New York, but cautioned her not to say anything about the project. She said the two singers also spent time together before Franklin passed away in 2018.

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