Aretha Franklin biopic moves ahead with director and writer

FILE - In this April 19, 2017, file photo, Aretha Franklin performs at the world premiere of "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" at Radio City Music Hall, during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, in New York. The long-gesticulating Franklin biopic “Respect” is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — The long-gestating Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect" is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct.

MGM announced Thursday that Tommy will helm the film, which is to star Jennifer Hudson. The "Dreamgirls" actress was cast as the late Queen of Soul in January 2018 after Franklin selected her for the role. At the time, Hudson performed a medley of Franklin's songs at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy bash.

Callie Khouri, who penned 1991's "Thelma & Louise," will write the script.

Tommy was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the 2016 Broadway production of "Eclipsed" starring Lupita Nyong'o. She is also set to direct a film adaption of Trevor Noah's autobiography.

Franklin died at the age of 76 in August from pancreatic cancer.

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