In case you missed, we have the first look at Elise Neal as legendary singer Gladys Knight in the upcoming LIFETIME Aaliyah biopic. Also, Aretha Franklin shades Nicki Minaj and others during a recent interview. More inside…
LIFETIME’s telefilm Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is set to premiere next week. And just in time before it makes its television debut, the first look at “Hollywood Divas” star Elise Neal starring as seven-time Grammy Award winner Gladys Knight as surfaced.
The 48-year old actress will play the "Empress of Soul" in the made-for-tv film Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. Gladys played an important role in Aaliyah’s success as she allowed the young singer to perform with her in Las Vegas when she was just 11-years-old. Gladys was Aaliyah’s aunt by marriage, married to Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson. Barry guided Aaliyah’s career as her manager when she first entered into the entertainment industry.
Elisa will be joining lead star Alexandra Shipp as Aaliyah, budding Canadian actress Chattrisse Dolabaille as Missy Elliot and actor Izaak Smith (who appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance”) will play Timbaland. Daytime talkshow host Wendy Williams joined the project as an executive producer along with Aaliyah Productions Inc., Howard Braunstein (The Informant!) and Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries).
The telefilm premieres Nov. 15th at 8/7c on LIFETIME.
Speaking of legendary divas....
Iconic singer Aretha Franklin is busy on the promo circuit promoting her new album of diva covers, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics.
The Queen of Soul sat down with the Wall Street Journal to chop it up about her newest feat. This album marks her highest debut on the Billboard charts of her entire career. Yes…at 72-year-old, the Queen is still making her presence known in the music industry.
During the interview, the 18-time Grammy Award winner was asked to describe a group of popular “divas” of today in her own words. When asked about Alicia Keys she called her a, “young performer, good writer, producer". Whitney Houston? “Whitney was a talent.” Then, the reporter asked Ms. Franklin what she thought about Nicki Minaj. Her response is laugh worthy. She said,
"Nicki Minaj…Hmm…I’m going to pass on that.”
He also asked her about Taylor Swift in which she said,
“OK…great gowns, beautiful gowns. “
The Queen of Soul was also asked about that tell-all biography written by famed biographer David Ritz. She said,
“No he’s come up with a book of trash. Lies, lies and more lies.”
She then revealed her personal choices of who she would prefer to play her in a biopic film about her life. Aretha said she would like six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald or Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson to depict her in a film Nice! Check the interview above.
In another interview with Billboard, Aretha talks about her musical influences on artists such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. She dished,
I think they're doing a very good job -- Beyoncé, Alicia, Jennifer [Hudson]. I hear my influence sometimes; I know when my voice, when something I'm known for, has passed. But these young ladies, for the most part, are all very original.
She also talked about wanting to someday meet “Rolling In The Deep” singer Adele (whose song appears on Aretha’s new album) and Alicia Keys’ style evolution. She added,
I haven't had the occasion to meet Adele. She lives in England. So when I'm flying, or when she comes over here, perhaps we'll have a chance. I think she's a very fine singer, a very strong writer and performer.
I call Alicia the girl of a thousand faces. Her appearance is always changing, so you never get used to what she looks like. She's very stylized, but she has recorded some really great things. I especially like that old-school song she has, "You Don't Know My Name," and of course that New York song ["Empire State of Mind"]! I'm really glad she wrote that, because from time to time we need a new song for New York, for Detroit, for Chicago. And there really hadn't been one since Liza Minnelli did "New York, New York," so that was very timely.