A remake of the 1976 original, Sparkle stars Houston as the mother of three girls who form a singing group and struggle with fame and drug addiction. The trailer displayed the daughters, including American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, in performance. Houston is prominent throughout, at one point singing the classic gospel song His Eye Is on the Sparrow.
Houston is listed as the executive producer of the movie, essentially her last performance, which had already finished filming in Detroit when the superstar died Feb. 11 at 48 in Beverly Hills, Calif., on the eve of the Grammy Awards. An autopsy has shown she accidentally drowned in the bathtub, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors.
Debra Martin Chase, who is a producer of the film scheduled for release Aug. 17, echoed other people involved with the movie who praised Houston's professionalism on the set. The movie was seen as a comeback vehicle for the star, whose career had waned over the years due to battles with drugs and alcohol.
“She was healthy, happy, on time every day, hung out on set when she wasn't working because she loved the cast,” said Chase. “She had fun, her spirit buoyed everybody every day.”
Houston had worked to get Sparkle to the screen for 12 years. It was her first movie since 1996's The Preacher's Wife and 20 years removed from her debut in the blockbuster movie The Bodyguard.
“Whitney loved this movie very much. This was her idea,” Chase said. “The great thing for me as her friend and her producing partner is that this movie will be an essential part of her legacy … It's the best performance of her life; she knew it at the time. She looked beautiful on camera and she enjoyed every minute making the movie.”
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Photo: Jordin Sparks