Destiny’s Child alum LeToya Luckett is set to play R&B and pop music legend Dionne Warwick in an upcoming biopic, Warwick announced in Cannes on Friday.
At the event, Lady Gaga, Olympia Dukakis and Danny Glover were also announced as cast members in the film, to be called Dionne.
However, immediately after the event, Lady Gaga’s reps sent out a statement saying she was not involved with the project: “She is not attached and will not appear in this project.” Gaga, who was supposed to play Cilla Black, the singer’s “musical nemesis,” had never heard of the project, according to sources.
Olympia Dukakis will play Marlene Dietrich, who was Warwick’s mentor at the start of her career. Glover will play Warwick’s father, Mansel Warwick.
Warwick said Friday that the team is in talks with Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City) to direct.
AMBI Pictures, the L.A.-based production outfit set up by Italian producer Andrea Iervolino and Bacardi drinks heiress Monika Bacardi, will produce the film and handle international sales, shopping the project to buyers here in Cannes.
Randall Jahnson (The Doors) wrote the screenplay for the film, based on the singer’s 2010 autobiography My Life as I See It. The film will cover the period early in Warwick’s career from 1962 through 1968. Dave Wooley, who co-wrote Warwick’s autobiography and has been working on developing a film on her life for more than a decade, will produce Dionne with AMBI through his WW Film Company shingle. Jack Binder will also produce.
“She is perfect and she has exactly the right look,” Warwick said about Luckett playing a younger version of her. “She will bring out what is needed for this part.” In addition to playing Warwick, Luckett will also perform her songs for the film’s soundtrack.
Explaining why the late Cilla Black, a beloved figure in Britain, was the villain of the piece, Warwick simply said on Friday: “Because she stole my music!” Warwick has accused Black of copying her vocal mannerisms on a version of Warwick’s hit Anyone Who Had A Heart that went to number 1 in the U.K. in 1964.
Warwick heaped praise on late German singer and actress Dietrich for “doing everything” to help her at the beginning of her career, including “throwing out all my costumes because she didn’t like them.”
Warwick hinted that real-life characters from her life at the time, including producer Burt Bacharach and The Beatles, could turn up in the film. “There’ll be a lot of surprises,” the singer said.
Dionne is set to begin production late this year.
Warwick is one of the most successful recording artists of all time. A five-time Grammy winner, she has scored international hits with songs such as “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” or the 1987 charity single “That’s What Friends Are For,” recorded together with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, which raised millions for AIDS research foundation AmFAR. She is also the cousin of late pop star Whitney Houston.
Perhaps best known for her long-time collaboration with songwriters Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick, with 69 charted singles between 1962 and 1998, is the second most-charted female vocalist of all time on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts, behind only Aretha Franklin.
Luckett is repped by APA, Zero Gravity and Stone Genow.
May 13, 8 a.m. PT: Updated with Gaga’s reps statement that she is not involved with the film.