patrickandjenniferhudson.jpgMeanwhile, word on the street (at least via the Los Angeles Times) is that "DREAMGIRLS" - loosely based on a girl group like Diana Ross and the Supremes - could use an endorsement from the grand diva herself, who represents one vote on the Academy Awards voting committee. Though fictional, the behind-the-scenes drama of three young women of humble rearing -- who together come up through the ranks of a black-owned record company as the world fiercely embraces their look and sound -- is considered by many to be the unofficial Diana Ross story (with a few setting changes - the girls in the script are from Chicago vs. Detroit; without Ross' actual soundtrack of unstoppable hits; and accompanied with a shift in narrative arc that leaves the Florence-Ballard-like character, Effie, with post-group success, after she's kicked out. In the real world, Florence Ballard, at 32, died of cardiac arrest (and by most terms, a broken heart) as she was raising her kids just blocks from where she, Diana, and Mary Wilson came togther in the Brewster Projects of Detroit.). When the Broadway musical launched in December 1981, it was a huge hit. But as it received acclaim, Diana Ross - at the height of her solo success - chose not to "validate" the show by seeing it or endorsing it (to make sure - she says - it didn't give the impression that it was her "actual story"). Still, much success and adoration came to Sheryl Lee Ralph, who played Deena (the Diana-Ross-like character) and her fellow castmates Loretta Devine (who played Lorrell, the Mary-Wilson knockoff) and Jennifer Holliday (who - in her turn as Effie [READ: Florence] - brought ACT ONE to its close and the audiences to their feet everytime she belted out the hit "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"). During this time, lesser-known original Supreme, Mary Wilson, would seize the moment and give the musical her endorsement. Several years later, she'd go so far as to borrow its title (and some of its themes) for the first of two memoirs that chronicled her take on the "Supremes" years (neither of which were flattering to Ross or Berry Gordy, whose character compliment in the piece is Curtis, played by Jamie Foxx in the movie). 25-plus years later (since "Dreamgirls" was unveiled), the concern is that any bad press or rejection of the work (especially coming from Ross, a muse for the whole project) could put a bad taste in Academy voters' mouths and reduce its significance to be considered for Mr. Oscar). Perhaps the good news for "Dreamgirls" (the movie) is Beyonce is portraying the Diana-like "Deena" and has a reportedly good relationship with Ross to whom she's often compared as the superstar lead singer of her own girl group, "Destiny's Child". And we even hear that Ross was considered for a cameo in this film (and she reportedly even took a couple of meetings to explore the possibility). So, perhaps she's softened to the idea of "art imitates life" (with creative license), especially since it was the same kind of criticism that she received for her loosely-based portrayal of Billie Holliday in "Lady Sings The Blues", which was given the Hollywood treatment that veered further away from the "actual" story (though it landed on the "essence" and "spirit" of the story). Time will tell how sometimes mystical and mysterious Miss Ross plays this part... (and as the calendar goes, we're looking at about a month and a half to watch and see if she  shows up on that red carpet or in front of someone's camera - stating her case).

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 at 11:21AM by Registered CommenterTHE LIFE OF RILEY in | CommentsPost a Comment

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