Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks Set for Sparkle Remake
Before there was Dreamgirls the musical (let alone Dreamgirls the movie) there was Sparkle, the deliciously melodramatic 1976 R&B musical about the ups and downs of a trio of singing sisters from Harlem who make it big in 1950s New York. The tale was loosely, infamously based on the real-life experiences of The Supremes and lead singer Diana Ross's ascent to solo stardom, but Sparkle had a dark edge, with threats like drugs, criminals, and jealousy around every corner.
Even Mariah Carey got in on some Sparkle action in Glitter, which aped beats from the streets-to-stardom saga. So now, naturally, it's a new songbird's turn to take the familiar dramarama for a spin -- make that two songbirds.
As THR reports, American Idol alum Jordin Sparks has been cast in the lead as Sparkle, the more talented but overlooked member of the all-girl group The Hearts, which is dominated by Sparkle's prettier, more sexualized sister. That character, named Sister in the original, has yet to be cast, but imagine Beyonce in Dreamgirls, whose arc followed a similar path.
Lonette McKee, who played Sister in the original, was pretty amazing in that film and will be a tough act to follow. Then again, is Sparks -- who's a great singer, yes, but an unproven actress -- up to the challenge of filling Irene Cara's shoes?
Whitney Houston, meanwhile, is in talks to play the girls' mother in her first film since The Preacher's Wife, while Mike Epps will play Satin, "a stand-up comedian who marries one of the sisters and gets her hooked on drugs." The remake is scripted by Mara Brock Akil and will be directed by Salim Akil, the married duo behind BET's The Game.
So here's my trepidation: Sparkle is so wonderfully campy at times and so truly fabulous at others that a remake can't possibly recapture the magic (or sass or, yes, sparkle or En Vogue-inspiring power) of the original. Mull over the remake potential as you watch a few numbers from the original: