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I Wanna Dance With Somebody - What We Know So Far

Music biopics have become one of Hollywood's staple genres. 

Films are in the works about the lives of Elvis, Louis Armstrong, the Bee Gees and Bob Dylan. Singing along to (or lip-syncing with) someone's hit songs might be the path of least resistance for an actor looking for awards-season glory, so it's no surprise that a film is in the works about the life of one of the world's most famous pop divas. Following the naming conventions of "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Rocketman," and "Respect," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" will detail the precipitous rise and tragic fall of the singer Whitney Houston.

Houston rose from a childhood singing gospel music and a brief modeling career as a teenager to become one of the most celebrated, most decorated R&B and pop singers in the world during the 1980's and 1990's. But she also struggled with drug addiction later in her career, which contributed to her untimely death in 2012 at the age of just 48.

It's the kind of story with a lot of potential, so you're probably wondering who it is making it, and when we can expect to see it in theaters.

When will I Wanna Dance with Somebody be released?

Current plans are for the film to debut around Thanksgiving of 2022, ten years after Houston's tragic death in 2012.

The film has already seen some behind the scenes changes, so hopefully it can stick to that schedule. Director Kasi Lemmons came onboard Sept. 1, Deadline reported. Lemmons replaced Stella Meghie, director of "Jean of the Joneses" and "The Photograph," who left the project due to creative differences. Meghie will remain onboard as an executive producer, according to Deadline.

Lemmons appeared in films as wide-ranging as "The Silence of the Lambs," the 1992 "Candyman" and John Woo's Jean Claude Van Damme-starring Cajun-accented actioner "Hard Target" before eventually turning her attention to directing. She helmed the films "Talk to Me" and "Black Nativity" but gained acclaim for work on the 2019 Harriet Tubman-biopic "Harriet."

Lemmons told Deadline she actually had a professional connection with Houston. ""Early in my writing career I developed two projects for Whitney, and I had the opportunity to meet her," Lemmons said. "She was a tremendous, incomparable artist, and her story is as awe-inspiring as it is tragic."

Who will be in the cast for I Wanna Dance With Somebody?

So far, we only know two of the actors participating in "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

Before winning the role of Houston, Ackie appeared in "Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker" as First Order defector-turned-Resistance fighter Jannah. She also starred in the third season of "Master of None" (titled "Master of None Presents: Moments in Love") as Denise's (Lena Waithe) wife Alicia. She also appeared in "Small Axe," "The End of the F***ing World," and in the film "Lady Macbeth."

In addition to Ackie, the only other announced cast member is Moses Ingram, who is on board to play Houston's assistant-turned-creative director and confidant Robyn Crawford. Ingram's best known work is so far is her appearance as Jolene in 2020's "The Queen's Gambit." Coincidentally, she will next be seen in Joel Coen's Denzel Washington-led "The Tragedy of MacBeth" as Lady Macduff. She also has an as-yet-unknown part in the upcoming "Obi-Wan Kenobi" limited series, meaning "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" will be a "Star Wars" reunion.

What will be the plot of I Wanna Dance With Somebody?

The short answer is that the film will tell the story of Whitney Houston, but exactly how it will shape the story of an earth-shattering talent who also struggled with drug dependency remains to be seen.

The Deadline announcement for Lemmons coming aboard the project certainly makes it sound as though the filmmakers are committed to telling the unvarnished Whitney story. It quotes Clive Davis, the legendary producer and record executive who signed Houston to Arista Records and guided her early career, as saying, "Properly telling the honest, 'no-holds-barred' story of Whitney Houston is an exceptional responsibility. Kasi Lemmons not only brings a highly acclaimed, award-winning track record but possesses a clear understanding of Whitney as the matchless icon who triumphed musically while valiantly struggling with addiction."

At the same time, the film does have the blessing of the Houston estate, which will allow it to use her songs in a way that a previous biopic, the 2014 Lifetime movie "Whitney," directed by Angela Bassett, could not. Previous reports from Ackie's casting indicates that the family approved the screenplay, so it wouldn't be unheard of for them to make requests about in order to depict the star in a more favorable light.