Whitney Houston's Performance in 'Sparkle' 'Would Have Been a Big, Big Comeback,' Says Executive Producer

Whitney Houston On Stage H 2012

In the film, which Sony will release Aug. 17, the performer takes center stage for a big gospel number.

Whitney Houston's final film performance in the upcoming feature Sparkle "would have been a big, big comeback, she is so brilliant in it," Howard Rosenman, an executive producer on the film said Saturday in the wake of the performer's death.

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Rosenman, who also provided the story for the original 1976 Sparkle, about the rise of an all-girl singing group loosely inspired by the Supremes, had seen a rough cut of the new feature, starring Jordin Sparks, on Friday night. "I was just raving about [Whitney's] performance, she was so great in it. I'm just in shock," he said.

Producer Debra Chase Martin, who at one point was a producing partner of Houston's, had been developing the project for years before it finally got a green-light at Sony Pictures, which will release it as planned on Sept. 17.

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The project was originally developed at Warners, where Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001, was to have played the lead. Bringing the project over to Sony, Chase also brought in Salim Akil to direct the screenplay by his wife Mara Brock Akil

In the film, Houston, who plays the mother of three daughters who launch a singing group, has a big gospel number, the classic "Eyes on the Sparrow" and duets with Sparks on a new R. Kelly song, "Celebrate," over the end credits.  "It's a great, great gospel song where she's just genius," Rosenman said. "Salim is a really talented director, and Mara wrote a fantastic screenplay, and we were really looking forward to [Whiney's] participation [in the movie's release]. It would have been her big comeback. It would have been unbelievable."