Aretha Franklin celebrates 74th birthday in Manhattan
New York — Aretha Franklin was in the mood for celebrating, and not just because she had a birthday party.
“Good news, we’re ready to sign for the movie,” Franklin said Thursday night of the biopic about her life she has been trying to arrange with “Straight Outta Compton” producer Scott Bernstein. “We’ve agreed on all the key points. There’s very little left now (to negotiate), very little. They have given me creative control and that’s all I wanted.”
Plans for a biopic date back to at least 2011, when Franklin announced she wanted Halle Berry to star. Jennifer Hudson is now reportedly being considered for the lead.
Franklin spoke to The Associated Press in the first-floor lounge of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, where she has held parties before, as some 100 of her friends gathered Thursday to wish her a happy birthday. Franklin, who turned 74 on March 25, arrived in white fur and settled into a corner table alongside record executive Clive Davis and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others.
There was music, of course, but little of Franklin’s. The singer of “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and other classics took the night off, content to smile and nod her head along to performances by the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars and Dennis Edwards of Temptations fame. Near the end, a multi-tiered vanilla cake was wheeled out, with a tape recording of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” playing on the sound system.
Davis, who has known Franklin for more than 30 years and worked with her on numerous recordings, told the AP he approached their collaborations with a sense “that everything she does is history.”
“Everything will be studied centuries from now,” he said.