Deadline is exclusively reporting that Kasi Lemmons has been brought onboard to direct the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody at TriStar Pictures, replacing Stella Meghie, who sources told the media outlet has departed the project due to creative differences, but will remain attached as an executive producer.
Last year the studio acquired the rights to the project, which will focus on the life and music of Whitney Houston. The project is formed by The Whitney Houston Estate, Primary Wave and Grammy-winning music producer and Whitney Houston’s mentor Clive Davis.
Kasi Lemmons released a statement saying:
Early in my writing career I developed two projects for Whitney, and I had the opportunity to meet her. 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.
Currently we know that Naomi Ackie and Moses Ingram have been cast in the project, with Ackie portraying Houston. Ackie released a statement saying:
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 honour her legacy! With Kasi on board, I know we can create something truly wonderful.
Clive Davis, the legendary record executive who first discovered Whitney Houston and will produce the project, also released a statement adding:
Properly telling the honest, ‘no-holds-barred’ story of Whitney Houston is an exceptional responsibility. 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.
Producer Pat Houston added:
We are so pleased to be working with a talented and visionary female director such as Kasi Lemmons. We know that Whitney’s legacy is safe in her hands and that she will showcase the once-in-a-lifetime icon that Whitney was.
Anthony McCarten, who is also writing the screenplay, will be producing alongside Pat Houston on behalf of the Houston Estate, Clive Davis, Larry Mestel on behalf of Primary Wave Music, Denis O’Sullivan and Jeff Kalligheri.
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