Tuesday, December 12, 2006
On Friday, the Dreamgirls juggernaut to the Academy Awards, which already has had a good pre-game thanks to several critics' awards and nominations, will begin in earnest when the movie version of the hit Broadway musical hits theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, leading up to its wide release at Christmas. The hype machine already had created tons of precious Oscar buzz that's surrounding not only the film as a whole, but especially former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, who is considered a near-lock for a Best Supporting Actress nomination (at least) for her performance as the strong-voiced Effie, whose unceremonious ejection from the Supremes-like girl group at the heard of Dreamgirls leads to her performing the show's signature tune, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." It should be a triumphant moment for fans of the musical who celebrate it not only as sheer entertainment, but also for its place in the history of African Americans in entertainment. But behind the joy is another story, that of the original Effie, Jennifer Holliday. She sang that song more than a quarter century ago when Dreamgirls debuted on Broadway, a performance that brought houses down night after night and won her a Tony. But Holliday's road has been hard since then, and the renewed interest in Dreamgirls, instead of giving her a new burst of adoration, has instead opened additional wounds for the performer - mainly because, according to Holliday, the filmmakers and the studios (Dreamworks and Paramount) have all but ignored her contribution to the original Dreamgirls legacy.
Click on the subject line to read the Los Angeles Times article about Holliday, the movie and why she's feeling particularly pained at what could have been a glorious time for her. You will notice, if you read the story, that the studios have no comment about what guided their apparently dis of Holliday at this crucial time. One would hope they would do the right thing by her at some point, though a cameo in the movie would have been nice. One should also note that it's bad PR like this - real or otherwise - that has damaged or outright sunk more than one Oscar campaign in the past. Just ask Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson, among others. Considering how great this movie apparently is - I'll see it for myself this weekend - it would be a shame if unfortunately behavior against the entire production's biggest star screwed things up for everyone involved, then and now.
P.S. If you want a taste of Holliday's talents, play the video below to hear her perform "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." I saw her do this number in person several years ago, but almost 20 years after Dreamgirls, and it put goosebumps on my goosebumps.