It won’t be on screens for eight months — in fact, it only wrapped last week?but awards — season murmurs are swirling around Dreamgirls, the film version of Michael Bennett’s 1981 stage musical about a Supremes-style trio torn up by backstage politics. The show’s best-known song ends with the command ”You’re gonna love me”?a phrase that aptly describes the super-early campaign for the DreamWorks/Paramount flick.
The push started Feb. 27, in mid-production, when the studio ushered hundreds of media folks into a downtown L.A. theater to meet Jamie Foxx (he’s Curtis, a Berry Gordy-ish talent manager) and Beyoncé Knowles (she’s Deena, a Diana Ross type). MIA that night: press-shy Eddie Murphy, whose dance routine as James ”Thunder” Early was taken over by costar Keith Robinson. Next came the ShoWest convention in mid-March, where a ”Star of Tomorrow” award went to Jennifer Hudson, the brassy, big-voiced American Idol contestant from season 3 who plays the brassy, big-voiced singer Effie. (Tony winner Anika Noni Rose plays a third member of the group, Lorrell.)
So will it live up to the hype? EW got an early look and saw some arresting stuff, including Beyoncé resplendent in a disco-era silver-lamé cape and long, corkscrew-curl wig, and Hudson warming up for a smackdown song with Foxx. But while the stars and the studio seem confident, Bill Condon (who directed Kinsey) is behind the cameras sweating every detail and worrying how it’ll go over — especially a host of Act 2 changes. There will also be four new songs, including an ”11 o’clock number” for Beyoncé titled ”Listen” and a paean sung by Hudson called ”Love You I Do.” Frets Condon, ”They’ll be saying, ‘He changed this, he changed that.’ I mean, that’s what I would say.” The studio reps are betting critics and award balloters won’t sing the same lament.