Janet Jackson: Lisa O'Connor/ZUMA Press/NewsCom

Janet Jackson will play Lena Horne in ABC biopic. She'll re-record the torch singer's tunes for the TV movie

September 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Looks like Janet Jackson is expecting some stormy weather. Variety reports that the singer-actress will pay tribute to another screen star-pop vocal icon: Lena Horne. She’ll star as Horne in a biopic for ABC, to be produced by the ”Chicago” team of Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. And instead of lip-synching Horne’s hits, Jackson will re-record them.

Jackson had apparently long wanted to make a biopic of Horne, who starred in the classic movie musicals ”Stormy Weather” and ”Cabin in the Sky,” and whose career was marked by battles against racism and McCarthyism. Having recorded a song for the ”Chicago” soundtrack, Jackson expressed her desire to Zadan and Meron, who knew ABC had optioned Horne’s autobiography, ”Lena.” Quinn Taylor, the ABC executive in charge of movies and miniseries, jumped at the chance to cast Jackson, even though she hasn’t acted on TV since her child-star days on ”Good Times” and ”Diff’rent Strokes,” and hasn’t played drama since her starring role in John Singleton’s ”Poetic Justice” a decade ago. ”I can’t think of more ideal casting,” Taylor told Variety. ”Janet Jackson and Lena Horne — it’s like peanut butter and jelly.” No word on what Horne, who is 86, thinks of ABC’s sandwich plans.

Trivia note: Horne played Glinda the Good Witch in the 1978 film version of the Broadway musical ”The Wiz,” costarring opposite Janet’s brother Michael, who played the Scarecrow.

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