“Harriet” Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons Signs on to Direct Whitney Houston Biopic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

“Harriet” Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons Signs on to Direct Whitney Houston Biopic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Acclaimed filmmaker Kasi Lemmons has signed on to direct the anticipated biopic about the late Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Lemmons, who garnered acclaim for helming another biopic, 2019’s Oscar-nominated Harriet, is replacing Stella Meghie. The latter filmmaker stepped down from the director’s chair due to creative differences, but she will remain attached to the project as an exec producer, according to Deadline.

“Early in my writing career I developed two projects for Whitney, and I had the opportunity to meet her,” Lemmons said about Houston after she signed on to helm the movie. “She was a tremendous, incomparable artist, and her story is as awe-inspiring as it is tragic. I feel privileged to be part of bringing her life story and music to the audience.”

BAFTA TV Award-winning actress, Naomi Ackie is set to play the iconic singer in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. After she was cast in the coveted role, Ackie stated: “Preparing to play Whitney Houston has been an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much more about her and myself than I could have imagined. I’m so excited to get on that film set and honor her legacy! With Kasi on board, I know we can create something truly wonderful.”

Record producer Clive Davis, who discovered and signed Houston to Arista Records in 1983, also chimed in on the biopic’s production. “Properly telling the honest, ‘no-holds-barred’ story of Whitney Houston is an exceptional responsibility,” the executive, who worked with her throughout her career, said. He added: “Kasi Lemmons not only brings a highly acclaimed, award-winning track record but possesses a clear understanding of Whitney as the matchless icon who triumphed musically while valiantly struggling with addiction.”

The film’s script was penned by Academy Award nominated screenwriter, Anthony McCarten. The scribe is known for previously penning such acclaimed biopics as The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Two Popes. His latest project will feature an emotional, energetic look into Houston’s career and music.

Alongside McCarten’s Muse of Fire Productions, the movie is being produced by Pat Houston on behalf of the Houston Estate, and Davis and Larry Mestel on behalf of Primary Wave Music. Denis O’Sullivan and Jeff Kalligheri are also financing I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which Sony and TriStar Pictures will release in theaters over Thanksgiving weekend in 2022, via Compelling Pictures

Houston is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide. She’s also the most awarded female music artist of all time, having won such honors as six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards.

The performer made her acting debut with the Oscar-nominated 1992 romantic thriller, The Bodyguard. She also recorded six songs for the film’s  soundtrack, including I Will Always Love You. The track won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became the best-selling physical single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and is the best-selling soundtrack album in history.

Last year, Houston was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She also became the first Black artist to have three RIAA Diamond Awards.

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