Jennifer Hudson to Star as Aretha Franklin in New Biopic

Aretha Franklin personally chose Jennifer Hudson to play her in an upcoming biopic, producer Clive Davis told the crowd at his annual pre-Grammys party this weekend.

Hudson, who is a judge on NBC's The Voice, performed at the party. While introducing her, Davis said the Queen of Soul cast Hudson, who then performed "Think" and "Respect."

Deadline, which broke the news, reports that MGM has acquired the project and will finance the movie. Scott Bernstein (Straight Outta Compton) will produce the movie with music producer Harvey Mason Jr. Hudson and Mason worked together on Dreamgirls, the hit 2006 musical which earned Hudson the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The new project still does not have a director or writer.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the film is expected to be based on Franklin's 1999 memoir Aretha: From These Roots.

The project has been in the works for years. Franklin told Wendy Williams in 2011 she wanted Halle Berry to play her, even though Berry is not a singer.

"She was my first choice, everything's subject to negotiation, and she shouldn't underestimate her own talent," the 75-year-old Franklin said in 2011. "There are a number of other leading ladies out there that can definitely handle the role. I never expected Halle to sing. She's an actress, not a singer. Many actors have portrayed vocalists by lip-synching to the artists' original recordings."

Back in 2015, The Wrap reported Hudson was already attached to the project after her representative confirmed she was in talks.

When PEOPLE asked Franklin about the movie in 2016, she said she has "talked" to the actress who would play her, but did not reveal a name.

Franklin's legendary career began in the late 1950s, and continues to this day. She released her latest album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, in 2014.

In November, Franklin was the target of a death hoax.


"I'm doing well generally, all test have come back good," Franklin told Us Weekly in an email. "I've lost a lot of weight due to side effects of medicine, it affects your weight … Thanxxxx for your concern."

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles / NBC