A biopic on the life of superstar Whitney Houston is starting to take shape, as “The Photograph” director Stella Meghie is set to direct the film “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with the support of Houston’s estate, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
Anthony McCarten, the screenwriter behind “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is writing the script that’s meant to cover her prime as a performer, including her work on “The Bodyguard” and her performance of the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl, while alluding to her tragic death in 2012. The film will also feature many of Houston’s hit songs.
Grammy-winning music producer Clive Davis, who signed Houston to Arista Records when she was 19, is producing the film along with Primary Wave Entertainment and Pat Houston on behalf of the Houston estate. Davis is producing on behalf of Primary Wave along with Larry Mestel and Denis O’Sullivan. McCarten is also producing on behalf of his Muse of Fire Productions banner. Primary Wave Music is a partner of the Whitney Houston estate.
The producers describe “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” as a “joyous, emotional and heart-breaking celebration of the life and music of the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom. While being very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted, it will be both the rich and complex saga of the search for the perfect marriage between song and singer and audience, and at the same time the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home.”
The film has yet to be set at a distributor or studio, and no details on casting have been unveiled. The project came together after Davis first approached McCarten for the idea for a biopic last April. The project is being independently financed.
“From all my personal and professional experience with Whitney from her late teenage years to her tragic premature death, I know the full Whitney Houston story has not yet been told,” Davis said in a statement. “I am so glad that Anthony McCarten has committed to a no holds barred, musically rich screenplay that finally reveals the whole Whitney whose vocal genius deeply affected the world while she fiercely battled the demons that were to be her undoing.”
“The Estate of Whitney Houston is more than elated to be involved with a group of people that are as passionate about Whitney’s life story as we are. Whitney’s legacy deserves only the best that can be given. I stand with the hearts of these partners being the chosen ones to produce a film that’s uplifting and inspiring to all that loved her, giving you a reason to continue to celebrate The Voice that we all fell in love with and will cherish forever,” Pat Houston said in a statement.
“Whitney Houston was the voice of a generation and who better to tell her story then than Pat Houston, Clive Davis and the Oscar-nominated and award-winning Anthony McCarten. Anthony is a proven storyteller and we are honored to have the most ‘in demand’ screenwriter in the business as our partner on this important project,” Mestel said in a statement.
“We are incredibly lucky to have the support and input of many of the key people who knew Whitney the best and who were there at the time, in the making of this film. I am working closely with all of them, to authentically tell the extraordinary story of a peerless talent, taken from us too soon. Recreating for the big screen those unforgettable performances, those beloved songs, and that incredible journey, will be an enormous responsibility, undertaking, privilege and delight for myself and for our entire team,” McCarten said in a statement.
Guinness World Records has credited Houston as the most-awarded female artist of all time. She won a Grammy for her song from “The Bodyguard,” “I Will Always Love You.” She’s won six Grammys, two Emmys, sold over 200 million records worldwide, and all seven of her albums and two soundtrack albums have gone either gold, platinum or multi-platinum, according to the RIAA.
Deadline first reported the news of the project.