Dreamgirls


2h 10m 2006
Dreamgirls

Brief Synopsis

An unscrupulous promoter takes a girl group to the top but dumps their lead singer.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Musical
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 25, 2006
Premiere Information
Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco openings: 15 Dec 2006
Production Company
DreamWorks SKG; Paramount Pictures
Distribution Company
DreamWorks SKG; Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Chatsworth, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; Pasadena, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Dreamgirls , music by Henry Krieger, book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, produced on Broadway by Michael Bennett, Robert Avian, David Geffen and The Shubert Organization, directed and choreographed for the stage by Michael Bennett (New York, 20 Dec 1981).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Synopsis

In early 1960s Detroit, childhood friends Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson attempt to participate in a big talent contest, but because Effie, the powerhouse lead singer of their group, The Dreamettes, is late, the girls are told they cannot perform. Curtis Taylor, Jr., an ambitious Cadillac salesman who wants to break into the music business, persuades the manager to allow The Dreamettes to go on. When he sees how talented the teenaged girls are, Curtis finagles them a job as backup singers for James "Thunder" Early, a charismatic R&B performer whose infidelities have cost him his usual singers. Although Effie is reluctant, as she considers singing backup a "trap," the other girls are enthusiastic, as is C. C., Effie's brother who is their songwriter and choreographer. They convince Effie to accept and also to allow Curtis to become their manager, and soon the starstruck girls are accompanying Jimmy on a ten-week, cross-country tour. The beautiful but naïve Deena and giggly Lorrell continue to follow the lead of curvaceous, boisterous Effie, whom Curtis has singled out for attention because he knows that she is the most talented. Jimmy attempts to flirt with Lorrell, but Lorrell, knowing that he is married, rebuffs him. After the tour, Effie begins a romance with Curtis, who tells Jimmy that he needs a "new sound" and gets him to listen to one of C. C.'s songs. Marty Madison, a more old-fashioned manager than the cunning Curtis, thinks that the song is low-class, but Jimmy likes the catchy tune and records it with The Dreamettes in a recording studio that Curtis and his partner, Wayne, have erected inside their car dealership. The group watches excitedly as the song moves up the charts, but then, as has happened frequently with other African-American artists, the song is re-recorded by white singers, with the original version being forgotten. Curtis, Jimmy and the girls are distraught, especially when the white group is featured on the influential television show American Bandstand . Determined to obtain more radio coverage, Curtis resorts to payola, the common practice of paying off radio deejays. To obtain the money, Curtis, Wayne and C. C. work overtime selling cars and gamble with the proceeds. Thanks to the bribes, which are recorded by Curtis in a ledger, Jimmy and the Dreamettes' next song reaches number one. Because of their new prestige, the group is invited to sing at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, where C. C. choreographs an elaborate show for them. Curtis begins his own record label, Rainbow Records, and Effie is proud of his progress when he releases a recording of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Hoping that Curtis will promote her more, Effie records a love song for him, and although Curtis promises her that he will not let her magnificent voice "go to waste," he cynically assumes that she is too dark-skinned and overweight to be his ticket to fame. Curtis is then confronted by Marty, who is furious that he is trying to book Jimmy into the prestigious, white-owned Paradise Hotel in Miami. Curtis in turn lambastes Marty for being so narrow-minded that he has kept Jimmy trapped in the "Chitlin' Circuit." After Jimmy affirms that Curtis is his new manager, the disillusioned Marty storms out. Reiterating his motto that Jimmy needs "a new sound," Curtis softens his rough, jive style, and when Jimmy and the Dreamettes become the first black headliners at the Paradise, they perform a sophisticated ballad. As the number continues, however, Jimmy cannot restrain himself from breaking into some funky dance steps, and the white audience reacts with distaste. After the show, Lorrell confides in Deena that she has lost her virginity to Jimmy, whom she loves even though he is still married. Curtis then informs the girls that they will be forming their own group, without Jimmy, and be renamed The Dreams because they are now grown up. The girls are thrilled by Curtis' designs for their new look until he tells them that Deena will sing lead while Effie will join Lorrell in singing backup. Although Curtis explains that the prettier, whiter-sounding Deena will ensure them television exposure, Effie is crushed, protesting that she is the one who has "the voice." Effie is humiliated when C. C. supports Curtis, but eventually they all persuade her to acquiesce by asserting that she will have more opportunities after they are famous. The hotel soon presents the debut of The Dreams, although even Deena's mother May has reservations about her daughter's abilities. Curtis is pleased when May observes that he is treating the malleable Deena like "a product," and continues to manufacture a polished image for the girls. As time passes, The Dreams become a sensation and fulfill Curtis' ambition by appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show . Effie is annoyed when Curtis praises Deena during press conferences, claiming that she is the "true story" behind The Dreams, and begins to act erratically. Tired of Effie's diva-like behavior, Curtis chastises her during a recording session and she declares that she knows he is sleeping with Deena, whom she accuses of stealing her dream and her man. Effie attempts to leave, but outside is stunned into immobility by rioters roaming the streets of Detroit. Curtis tenderly ushers her back inside but continues to favor Deena and criticizes Effie for gaining weight. Although Effie protests that she is unwell, everyone, including C. C., grows irritated by her behavior. Just before an important show, Effie is mortified to discover that she has been replaced in the group by Michelle Morris, Curtis' secretary. Despite Curtis' betrayal, Effie begs him to love her, but he turns his back on her. Now christened Deena Jones and the Dreams, the group achieves new heights over the next six years, with Curtis overseeing all aspects of their lives. Curtis and Deena, who have married, live in a Hollywood mansion, although Deena remains lonely and unfulfilled as Curtis builds his music empire. Curtis insists that Deena star in a black-produced film about Cleopatra, despite Deena's protests that she is too old for the part. Curtis attempts to placate her with vows of love, although Deena suspects that he is not interested in the real her, only in the image he can mold. Meanwhile, Effie, having descended into poverty, is attempting to rear her daughter Magic alone. Effie, who never told Curtis that he was a father, has trouble finding singing work because of her reputation for being difficult and asks Marty for help. While Marty attempts to find Effie a job, Jimmy records C. C.'s latest socially conscious song. Curtis dismisses the song, however, telling Jimmy that success is about selling records, not emoting. Crushed, Jimmy resorts to shooting heroin, much to Lorrell's dismay. Marty persuades nightclub owner Max Washington to audition Effie, who has been sabotaging herself due to her lack of confidence. When Marty and Max react negatively to Effie's excuses, she regains some of her former bravado and upon becoming the club's headliner, draws huge crowds. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Curtis' groups participate in a televised tribute for the tenth anniversary of Rainbow Records. Backstage, Lorrell tends to Jimmy, who deals with his personal and professional woes by continuing to get high. Lorrell realizes that Jimmy will never leave his wife, who is in the audience, and he ends her tirade by coldly telling her that he has a show to do. While singing the "mellow sounds" forced on him by Curtis, Jimmy changes tempo, declaring that he must be true to himself. His feisty performance wows the crowd, although Curtis is infuriated when Jimmy finishes by dropping his trousers. Curtis fires Jimmy, who turns to Lorrell for comfort, but she responds that she also has a show to do. Later, at Rainbow headquarters, C. C. upbraids Curtis for "squeezing the soul" out of his songs, while at home, Lorrell learns that Jimmy has died from an overdose. C. C. returns to Detroit but Effie, still hurt, refuses to acknowledge him until he corners her at a wake for Jimmy and explains that his newest song could be a hit if it is sung by her rather than becoming homogenized by Curtis. Effie records the song, "One Night Only," and it becomes popular in Detroit. When Curtis hears it, he buys up all the copies, bribes deejays not to play it and, without telling Deena of its origin, has her re-record it in a disco version. Effie watches with despair as Deena, Lorrell and Michelle perform the song on television, and later, Deena is distressed when Curtis reprimands her for meeting with a movie director behind his back. Declaring that Deena is nothing but what he made her, Curtis warns her that he will never let her out of her contract. Deena discovers that "One Night Only" originally was Effie's and, realizing that she is at a crossroads, uncovers Curtis' ledgers detailing his bribery and mob connections. After Deena contacts them, Marty, C. C. and their lawyer confront Curtis, threatening that if he does not allow Effie's version of "One Night Only" to be distributed nationwide, they will go public with the evidence of his corruption. Deena, who has reconciled with Effie, leaves Curtis, telling him that she needs a new sound. Soon after, at the farewell performance of Deena Jones and the Dreams, Curtis watches glumly as Deena proudly welcomes Effie onstage to sing with the group. While Effie sings to Magic, Curtis follows her gaze and, in astonishment, deduces that Magic is his daughter. As the audience gives The Dreams a standing ovation, Magic cries with pride at her mother's accomplishment.

Cast

Jamie Foxx

Curtis Taylor, Jr.

Beyoncé Knowles

Deena Jones

Eddie Murphy

James "Thunder" Early

Danny Glover

Marty Madison

Jennifer Hudson

Effie White

Anika Noni Rose

Lorrell Robinson

Keith Robinson

C. C. White

Sharon Leal

Michelle Morris

Hinton Battle

Wayne

Mariah Wilson

Magic

Yvette Carson

May

Ken Page

Max Washington

Ralph Harris

M.C.

Michael-leon Wooley

Tiny Joe Dixon

Loretta Devine

Jazz singer

John Lithgow

Jerry Harris

John Krasinksi

Sam Walsh

Alexander Folk

Ronald White

Esther Scott

Aunt Ethel

Bobby Slayton

Miami comic

Jordan Wright

Teddy Campbell

Dawnn Lewis

Melba Early

Jaleel White

Talent booker

Jonell Kennedy

Joann

Sybyl Walker

Charlene

Lesley Nicole Lewis

Eboni Y. Nichols

Ariké Rice

Fatima Robinson

Aakomon "aj" Jones

Little Albert

Barsheem Bernard Fowler

Anwar "flii Stylz" Burton

Rory O'malley

Dave

Laura Bell Bundy

Anne Warren

Ivar Brogger

David Bennett

Daren A. Herbert

Jimmy's piano player

Jocko Sims

Elvis Kelly

Pam Trotter

Rhonda

Cleo King

Janice

Eddie Mekka

Club manager

Alejandro Furth

Case worker

Dilva Henry

TV reporter

Vince Grant

American Bandstand producer

Robert Cicchini

Nicky Cassaro

Thomas Crawford

TV director

Charles Jones

Carl

Robert Curtis Brown

Technical director

Stephanie Owens

Tania Williams

Lorey Hayes

Reporter

Gilbert Glenn Brown

Man with gun

Marty Ryan

Stagehand

Michael Villani

Detroit reporter

Gregg Berger

Chicago deejay

Daniel Riordan

L.A. deejay

David James

Photographer

Paul Kirby

Promo film narrator

Derick Alexander

Security guard

Yvette Nicole Brown

Curtis' secretary

Nanci E. Anderson

Joelle Cosentino

Lisa Eaton

Clare Kutsko

Tracy Phillips

Kelleia Sheerin

Mykel Brooks

Johnny Erasme

Cory Graves

J. R. Taylor

Cornithea "mario" Henderson

Craig Hollamon

Reginald Jackson

Chuck Maldonado

Anthony Rue

John Silver

Larry Sims

Black Thomas

Tyrell Washington

Kevin Wilson

Adrian Wiltshire

Earl "punch" Wright

Russell "goofy" Wright

Dominic Chaiduang

Jose Cueva

Omhmar Griffin

Sky Hoffmann

Trevor Lopez-daggett

Cecilio Moctezuma

Gabriel Paige

Terrance Spencer

Tony Testa

Quinton Weathers

Jull Weber

Marcel Wilson

Stevie Ray Anthony

Matthew Dickens

Jerohn Garnett

Mario Mosley

Jimmy R. O. Smith

Crew

Armando Abarca

Drapery gang boss

Ruben Abarca

Drapery foreman

Akemi Abe

Anim, Picture Mill

Guy Adan

Unit Publicist

Mark Agostino

Audio playback

Chad Ahrendt

Assistant to Mr. Mark

Pedro Aleman

Driver

Petra Alexandria

Prod Associate

Brandon Allen

Production Assistant

Alan Alvarado

Gen foreman

Edward Alvarado

Labor foreman

Leah Amir

Craft service

John Amorelli

Theatrical lighting best boy

Christian Andersen

Propmaker gang boss

Chris P. Anderson

Production Assistant

Colin Anderson

Camera op/Steadicam

Devon Renee Anderson

Costumes

Mike Anderson

Key grip

Brian Andrew

Hairstylist

Yaa Boaa Aning

Mr. Foxx's Costume

Audie Aragon

Dolly grip

Paige Augustine

Buyer

Lillian Awa

Production Assistant

Carlos Baker

Electrician

Lori Balton

Loc scout

Scott Barnes

Dimmer board op

Billy Barnhart

Compositor/IO Manager, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Judith Bartnick

Cutter/Fitter

Al Bartoli

Driver

Brian Bartolini

2d unit gaffer

Yvonne Bastidos

Set Costume

Darek Beeman

Tailor

Bob Beemer

Re-rec mixer

Greg Bell

2d unit prod Assistant

Luis Benavides

Grip

Taylor Benavides

Production Assistant

Candy Bennici

2d unit Screenplay Supervisor

John Berger

Assistant art Director

Irving Berlin

Composer

Carol Beule

Costumes

Angela Beyince

Assistant to Ms. Knowles

Joan Kelley Bierman

Post prod Supervisor

Jay Binder

Casting

Dean Black

Driver

Don Black

Special Effects tech

Vaughn Bladen

Driver

Jack Blanchard

Set Dresser

Darren Block

2d Assistant Editor

Paul Bogaev

Vocal Supervisor

Lou Bonachea

2d unit prod Assistant

Chad Bonanno

Anim, Picture Mill

Robert Bonino

Const foreman

Dan Boone

Payroll accountant

Timothy Boot

Vocal sync Music Editor

Jack Bowdan

Casting Assistant

Mark Brandon

Casting Assistant

Joey Brattesani

Compositor, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Sharleen Bright

Stand by painter

Dave Brown

Stand-in

Jc Brown

Graphic Designer

Peter Brown

Welding foreman

Tom Brown

Paint Supervisor

Tym Shutchai Buacharern

Department head makeup

John Buckley

Chief lighting tech

Roger Burko

Tool foreman

Willie Burton

Prod Sound mixer

Eddie Bydalek

Recordist

Denny Caira

Transportation Coordinator

Martha Callender

Makeup Artist

David Campbell

String Arrangements

Jwaundace Candece

Stunts

Anthony Cappello

C 1st Assistant Camera

Anthony Cappello

2d unit 1st Assistant Camera

Tim Carmon

Music Arrangement

Christine Carr

Digital intermediate prod, Company 3

Sal Catanzaro

Assistant Editor, Company 3

Johnny Cenatiempo

Stunts

Jayson Chang

Transporation office Coordinator

Karen Chang

Transportation dispatcher

Mike Chiado

Digital intermediate technologist, Company 3

Michael Chonos

Driver

Zac Chowdhury

Roto artist, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Ivanna Chubbuck

Acting coach

Dennis Clark

Driver

David Clayton

Lead Designer, Picture Mill

Stacy Clinger

Paint foreman

Mark Coffey

Assistant Sound Editor

Fetteroff Colen

Mr. Murphy's Costume

Bill Condon

Written for Screen by

Hugh Conlon

Const foreman

Raymond Consing

Storyboard artist

Adam Cook

Assistant to Mr. Condon

Kirk Corwin

Props Master

Nick Costantino

2d Assistant accountant

Stuart Cripps

Compositor, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Alexander Crow

Theatrical lighting tech

Scott Cutler

Composer

Carol Cutshall

Assistant Costume Designer

Gary Dahlquist

Rigging gaffer

Gabe Davila

Picture car wrangler

Sharen Davis

Costume Design

Eric Dawkins

Choirmaster

Kent Demaine

Motion graphics mont

Sara Dering

Assistant loc Manager

Cleavant Derricks

Original Broadway vocal Arrangements

Deidra Dixon

Mr. Foxx's hairstylist

Malcolm Doran Ii

Best boy grip

Rusty Dumas

Storyboard artist

Cristina Duncan

2d Assistant accountant

Justin Duncan

Assistant loc Manager

Brent Egan

2d unit 2d Assistant Camera

Brent Egan

C 2d Assistant Camera

Peggy Eisenhauer

Theatrical lighting Designer

Kofie Elam

Stunts

Pam Ellington

Associate accountant

Jann Engel

Assistant art Director

Scott Erb

Model maker

David Esparza

Sound Effects Editor

Glen Evans

Production Assistant

Tony Evans

First aid

Tom Eyen

Composer

Tom Eyen

Songs from the Original Broadway prod of Dreamgirls wrt

Rocky Faulkner

Makeup

Leslee Feldman

Casting Executive

Marion Feller

Accountant, Gray Matter Visual Effects

John Fine

Electrician

Jules Fisher

Theatrical lighting Designer

Donald Flick

Sound Effects Editor

Tim Flugum

2d unit medic

Dahlia Foroutan

Costumes

Don Frazee

Special Effects Coordinator

Wally Frick

Driver

Camille Friend

Department head hairstylist

Tamara Gagarin

Account exec, Technicolor

John Garrett

A 2d Assistant Camera

Siedah Garrett

Composer

Thomas Gibson

Labor foreman

William Gilpin

Const foreman

Kevin Glen

Video Camera

Amy Glenn

Costumes

Darek Gogol

Prod illustrator

Connie Gomez

Propmaker gang boss

Rene Gonzalez

Projectionist

Amanda Goodpaster

Addl Music Editor

Rick Granville

Prod Secretary

Richard Graves

1st Assistant Director

Bill Green

Grip

Bill Greenberg

Theatrical lighting tech

Mike Gregorio

Driver

Peter Griffith

Assistant props

Jesse Grillo

Production Assistant

Franz Gruber

Composer

Jemal D. Guillory

Personal Assistant to Mr. Murphy

Nancy Haigh

Set Decoration

Mark Hansson

2d unit 1st Assistant Director

Mitzi Haralson

Costumes

Allen Harker

Electrician

Katherine Harper

Foley artist

Lori Harris

Set Costume

Noel Harris

Addl craft service

Dabling Harward

Music eng

Brandon Heaslip

Preview tech, Technicolor

Eric Hedayat

Loc Manager

Jerry Hey

Horn Arrangements

Renee Hill-sweet

2d 2d Assistant Director

Jay Hirsch

Special Effects foreman

R. L. Hohman

Special Effects tech

Thomas J. Hoke

Driver

David Holden

Driver

Demetricus Holloway

Costumes

Mike Hopkins

Dial Editor

Natascha Hopkins

Stunts

Brianna Hoskins

Assistant to Ms. Whitcher

Luis Hoyos

Set Design

Don J. Hug

Prod Supervisor

Loretta Huggett

Driver

Ty Hunter

Assistant to Ms. Knowles

Nancy Hyland

Compositor, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Lori Ikeda

Payroll accountant

Damon Intrabartolo

Orch and Conductor

Kevin Jackson

Stunt Coordinator

Steven Jacobson

2nd Unit Director

Tamara Jagerman

Propmaker gang boss

Dacia James

Production Assistant

David James

Still Photographer

Tom Jedrzejczyk

Grip

Jimmy Jensen

A 1st Assistant Camera

Gordon Jernberg

Driver

Eli Jimenez

Labor foreman

Jeffrey Johnson

Assistant props

Johnny Johnson

Driver

Nate Johnson

Electrician

Patricia Johnson

Stand-in

Aakomon "aj" Jones

Co-choreographer

Charles Jones

Rehearsal pianist

Scott Jones

Gang boss

Eric Jordan

Systems administrator, Gray Matter Visual Effects

Tim Joyce

2d unit medic

Larron Julian

Loader

Aaron Kaikko

2d unit video assist

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Musical
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 25, 2006
Premiere Information
Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco openings: 15 Dec 2006
Production Company
DreamWorks SKG; Paramount Pictures
Distribution Company
DreamWorks SKG; Paramount Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Chatsworth, California, United States; Los Angeles, California, United States; Pasadena, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the musical Dreamgirls , music by Henry Krieger, book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, produced on Broadway by Michael Bennett, Robert Avian, David Geffen and The Shubert Organization, directed and choreographed for the stage by Michael Bennett (New York, 20 Dec 1981).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Award Wins

Best Supporting Actress

2007
Jennifer Hudson

Best Sound

2006

Best Supporting Actress

2006
Jennifer Hudson

Award Nominations

Set Decoration

2006

Best Costume Design

2006

Best Song

2006

Best Supporting Actor

2006
Eddie Murphy

Articles

Dreamgirls


Based on the rise of the 1960s Motown girl-group trio The Supremes and Motown impresario Berry Gordy Jr., the 1982 Tony-winning hit musical Dreamgirls seemed to be a shoo-in for a movie version. The Broadway show had been had been partly financed by music mogul turned film producer David Geffen, who retained rights to produce the movie. If anybody could get a film made, it was Geffen. The show's director/choreographer Michael Bennett, who had also directed the stage hit A Chorus Line, wanted to direct, and Spike Lee was rumored to be in the running for director as well. But Dreamgirls had a surprisingly long and rocky road to the silver screen, in spite of Geffen's involvement.

By the late '80s, Bennett had died of AIDS, which made Geffen even more determined to get the film right in Bennett's memory. He intended to make Dreamgirls at Warner Bros., where he had his production company, starring Whitney Houston as Deena, the character based on Supremes lead singer Diana Ross. The problem was that the juiciest role, and the showstopper song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," belongs not to Deena, but to plump and insecure Effie, the singer with a powerhouse voice, who is pushed aside in favor of the more glamorous Deena. (Effie was based on Supreme Florence Ballard, whose real life was more tragic than that of the ultimately triumphant Effie.) But Houston demanded all best songs for herself, including "And I Am Telling You." A few years later, director Joel Schumacher wanted to make the film with singer Lauryn Hill as Deena, but it never happened. It was not until after the film version of the musical Chicago became a hit and an Oscar® winner in 2002 that interest in making Dreamgirls revived. The film finally went into production in 2006 with Bill Condon directing and produced by Dreamworks SKG, the production company founded by Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen refused to take a producer credit on the film, saying he was "just a facilitator."

By that time, Beyoncé Knowles had left the successful pop trio Destiny's Child and launched a solo career. Knowles's sleek glamour was ideal for Deena, but casting the more demanding role of Effie was challenging since it needed dramatic as well as vocal chops. More than 780 singers and actresses reportedly auditioned for the part, which went to Jennifer Hudson, a semi-finalist on the television pop singing competition program American Idol in 2004. Hudson, a gospel singer who had a six-octave vocal range, had no acting experience, and her only prior professional singing gig was on Disney cruise ships. She packed on an extra twenty-five pounds to play Effie. There were rumors, denied by both women, that there was friction between Hudson and Knowles during production. Jamie Fox played the Berry Gordy character and Anika Noni Rose was the third member of the girl group, called the Dreams in the film.

Hudson's intense performance earned her both a Golden Globe and an Oscar® as Best Supporting Actress. A scene-stealing Eddie Murphy also won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his energetic turn as a performer based on the likes of James Brown and Jackie Wilson. Dreamgirls earned a total of eight Oscar® nominations, but surprisingly, not a Best Picture nod. It won only one other, for best sound mixing.

As befits a grand, old-fashioned movie musical, Dreamgirls began its run as major Hollywood productions of the 1950s used to, with a "road show engagement" in major cities, featuring reserved seating and $25 ticket prices. There was also a souvenir booklet and special lobby exhibits featuring costumes and props from the film. Reviews for Dreamgirls ranged from respectful to raves. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers called it "a movie that has everything: a blazing new star in Jennifer Hudson, a riveting, revitalized Eddie Murphy, a hot-lick score...a timely story about how music can sell its soul to greed and compromise, and a dynamo of a director and screenwriter in Bill Condon." But about Hudson's searing performance, there was near-unanimity. Mick LaSalle's San Francisco Chronicle review was typical: "Hudson turns Dreamgirls into an event, giving it an aura of significance and specialness. The magic all derives from her."

Director: Bill Condon
Producer: Lawrence Mark
Screenplay: Bill Condon
Cinematography: Tobias Schliesser
Editor: Virginia Katz
Costume Design: Sharen Davis
Production Designer: John Myhre
Music: Songs from the original Broadway production by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger; new songs by Krieger, Siedah Garrett, Willie Reale, Anne Preven; original score by Stephen Trask
Principal Cast: Jamie Fox (Curtis Taylor Jr.), Beyonce Knowles (Deena Jones), Eddie Murphy (James "Thunder" Early), Danny Glover (Marty Madison), Jennifer Hudson (Effie White), Anika Noni Rose (Lorell Robinson), Keith Robinson (C.C. White), Sharon Leal (Michelle Morris), Hinton Battle (Wayne)
131 minutes

by Margarita Landazuri
Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls

Based on the rise of the 1960s Motown girl-group trio The Supremes and Motown impresario Berry Gordy Jr., the 1982 Tony-winning hit musical Dreamgirls seemed to be a shoo-in for a movie version. The Broadway show had been had been partly financed by music mogul turned film producer David Geffen, who retained rights to produce the movie. If anybody could get a film made, it was Geffen. The show's director/choreographer Michael Bennett, who had also directed the stage hit A Chorus Line, wanted to direct, and Spike Lee was rumored to be in the running for director as well. But Dreamgirls had a surprisingly long and rocky road to the silver screen, in spite of Geffen's involvement. By the late '80s, Bennett had died of AIDS, which made Geffen even more determined to get the film right in Bennett's memory. He intended to make Dreamgirls at Warner Bros., where he had his production company, starring Whitney Houston as Deena, the character based on Supremes lead singer Diana Ross. The problem was that the juiciest role, and the showstopper song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," belongs not to Deena, but to plump and insecure Effie, the singer with a powerhouse voice, who is pushed aside in favor of the more glamorous Deena. (Effie was based on Supreme Florence Ballard, whose real life was more tragic than that of the ultimately triumphant Effie.) But Houston demanded all best songs for herself, including "And I Am Telling You." A few years later, director Joel Schumacher wanted to make the film with singer Lauryn Hill as Deena, but it never happened. It was not until after the film version of the musical Chicago became a hit and an Oscar® winner in 2002 that interest in making Dreamgirls revived. The film finally went into production in 2006 with Bill Condon directing and produced by Dreamworks SKG, the production company founded by Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen refused to take a producer credit on the film, saying he was "just a facilitator." By that time, Beyoncé Knowles had left the successful pop trio Destiny's Child and launched a solo career. Knowles's sleek glamour was ideal for Deena, but casting the more demanding role of Effie was challenging since it needed dramatic as well as vocal chops. More than 780 singers and actresses reportedly auditioned for the part, which went to Jennifer Hudson, a semi-finalist on the television pop singing competition program American Idol in 2004. Hudson, a gospel singer who had a six-octave vocal range, had no acting experience, and her only prior professional singing gig was on Disney cruise ships. She packed on an extra twenty-five pounds to play Effie. There were rumors, denied by both women, that there was friction between Hudson and Knowles during production. Jamie Fox played the Berry Gordy character and Anika Noni Rose was the third member of the girl group, called the Dreams in the film. Hudson's intense performance earned her both a Golden Globe and an Oscar® as Best Supporting Actress. A scene-stealing Eddie Murphy also won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his energetic turn as a performer based on the likes of James Brown and Jackie Wilson. Dreamgirls earned a total of eight Oscar® nominations, but surprisingly, not a Best Picture nod. It won only one other, for best sound mixing. As befits a grand, old-fashioned movie musical, Dreamgirls began its run as major Hollywood productions of the 1950s used to, with a "road show engagement" in major cities, featuring reserved seating and $25 ticket prices. There was also a souvenir booklet and special lobby exhibits featuring costumes and props from the film. Reviews for Dreamgirls ranged from respectful to raves. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers called it "a movie that has everything: a blazing new star in Jennifer Hudson, a riveting, revitalized Eddie Murphy, a hot-lick score...a timely story about how music can sell its soul to greed and compromise, and a dynamo of a director and screenwriter in Bill Condon." But about Hudson's searing performance, there was near-unanimity. Mick LaSalle's San Francisco Chronicle review was typical: "Hudson turns Dreamgirls into an event, giving it an aura of significance and specialness. The magic all derives from her." Director: Bill Condon Producer: Lawrence Mark Screenplay: Bill Condon Cinematography: Tobias Schliesser Editor: Virginia Katz Costume Design: Sharen Davis Production Designer: John Myhre Music: Songs from the original Broadway production by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger; new songs by Krieger, Siedah Garrett, Willie Reale, Anne Preven; original score by Stephen Trask Principal Cast: Jamie Fox (Curtis Taylor Jr.), Beyonce Knowles (Deena Jones), Eddie Murphy (James "Thunder" Early), Danny Glover (Marty Madison), Jennifer Hudson (Effie White), Anika Noni Rose (Lorell Robinson), Keith Robinson (C.C. White), Sharon Leal (Michelle Morris), Hinton Battle (Wayne) 131 minutes by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Only the logos of Paramount and DreamWorks appear before the film begins; all of the other credits appear at the end of the picture. The first time the cast names are listed, the names Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy appear before the title. Shots of them within the movie are shown under their names. Similar shots are presented for several other cast members, including Danny Glover and Anika Noni Rose. Two title cards reading "And introducing/Jennifer Hudson" are followed by scenes of her from the film. When the credits for director Bill Condon, director of photography Tobias Schliessler and other major crew members appear, sequences of them doing their jobs are presented. For production designer John Myhre and costume designer Sharen Davis, some of their sketches for the film are shown, along with the realized images. For editor Virginia Katz, a montage is presented, and when casting directors Debra Zane's and Jay Binder's title card appears, photos of the various extras appear to illustrate the depth of their work. Choreographer Fatima Robinson's credit is accompanied by a montage of dances and the theatrical lighting designed by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer is illuminated by examples of lighting used during the various concert scenes.
       The last title card before the main credits roll dedicates the film to the memory of Michael Bennett (1943-1987), who directed and choreographed the Broadway musical on which the film was based. The end credits thank Jack Morrissey and Dick Clark Productions, among others. When the characters in the film first watch the television show American Bandstand, archival footage of host Dick Clark is seen, but an impersonator supplies his voice. During the picture, some of the songs highlight the action and express the characters' emotions, such as the song "Listen," during which "Deena Jones" declares her freedom from "Curtis Taylor, Jr." Other songs have lyrics that advances the plot, such as "Family," in which "Effie White's" friends convince her to sing backup rather than lead.
       The immensely popular musical Dreamgirls, with music by Henry Kreiger, book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and directed and choreographed by Bennett, opened on Broadway on December 20, 1981. Loosely inspired by the careers of singer Diana Ross, who replaced her longtime friend Florence Ballard as the lead singer of the Supremes, and of music impresarios Berry Gordy, Jr. and Phil Spector, the musical won six Tony Awards. The key song, Effie's show-stopping, plaintive lament "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," became a regular feature of original theatrical cast member Jennifer Holliday's nightclub act. In various sources, Condon related that he attended the opening night of Dreamgirls and had been fascinated with it ever since.
       According to a September 1996 Screen International item, Bennett, best known for creating the smash theatrical musical A Chorus Line, had hoped to direct a film version of Dreamgirls himself. In 1987, several sources noted that Whitney Houston was in talks to star in the film adaptation and at this point producer David Geffen was to make the picture with Howard Ashman, according to a December 2006 WSJ article. Daily Variety reported in November 1989 that Spike Lee was to direct the film for Geffen. At that time, the picture was to be co-produced by Geffen Pictures and Warner Bros., and in March 1989, Hollywood Reporter noted that Eyen had written a screenplay for Geffen. In a March 1989 New York Times interview, Eyen relayed that he had originally written Dreamgirls in the 1970s as a movie script but it "wound up on the stage" instead because he felt that the story was more suited to the theater.
       Los Angeles Times reported in November 1992 that Frank Oz was "firmly attached" to direct, with Todd Graff in discussions to write the screenplay. In 1994, Geffen co-founded DreamWorks SKG with partners Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg, and left the property with Warner Bros. Joel Schumacher was signed to direct the picture for Warner Bros. in September 1996 and in December 1997, Daily Variety reported that he was developing the screenplay with Tina Andrews. Among the stars announced as being in negotiations to star under Schumacher were Lauryn Hill, lead singer of the group The Fugees, as Deena, Kelly Price as Effie and Don Cheadle as "James `Thunder' Early." Other sources add that R&B singer Aaliyah was considered to star before her death in 2001.
       By September 1998, Daily Variety reported that Warner Bros. had canceled the project due to the box-office failure of its 1998 film Why Do Fools Fall in Love, a musical biography about 1950s black, teenaged singer Frankie Lymon. Geffen's interest in reviving the property was renewed after the success of the 2002 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago, which was written by Condon. According to the December 2006 WSJ article, however, Warner Bros. was "concerned" about the picture's proposed $73 million budget and "ultimately opted out of a co-production." In October 2005, Daily Variety announced that Paramount was partnering with DreamWorks to co-finance Dreamgirls.
       Daily Variety noted in May 2005 that R&B performer Usher had been signed to star as "C. C. White," but the part ultimately went to Keith Robinson. November 13, 2006 credits released by Paramount and DreamWorks list the following actors who were cut from the finished film: Jordan Belfi (Adam Brooks); Toni Trucks (Woman in D.C. bar); Damion Poitier (Man in D.C. bar); Rick Scarry (Atlanta deejay); E. J. Callahan (Older white man); Michael Cline (Reporter); Angela Sorensen (Reporter); Victor Togunde (Contestant); Denis F. Chavis (Security guard); and Jason Graham (Roadie). According to an article she wrote for the November 5, 2006 issue of Los Angeles Times, Rachel Abramowitz appears in the film as an extra during the sequence set in the Caesar's Palace nightclub. In the article, Abramowitz wrote that the film's choreographer, Fatima Robinson, "won a contest" in order to get the job. Hinton Battle, who plays "Wayne" in the film, appeared as Jimmy Early in the 1980s Broadway production as a summer replacement for Cleavant Derricks, who originated the role, and Yvette Carson, who plays "May," appeared in the Broadway cast as "Charlene" and also understudied the part of Effie. Loretta Devine, who played "Lorrell Robinson" in the original Broadway show, appears in the film version as the jazz singer who eulogizes Jimmy at a nightclub wake.
       Four original songs were written especially for the film by Henry Krieger and other composers: "Love You I Do," "Patience," "Perfect World" and "Listen." The onscreen credits note that the soundtrack was available through Music World Music/Sony Urban Music/Columbia. As noted by the onscreen credits, the picture was shot at the Los Angeles Center Studios, at which was recreated the Crystal Room in Miami and the interior of a Caesar's Palace nightclub, according to studio publicity. The press kit also reveals that the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles was used as the interior of the Detroit Theatre, and that Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre, Tower Theatre and Alexandria Hotel, and Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium were used as location sites. According to a September 2006 Vogue article, some of the sequences involving Curtis' Cadillac dealership were shot on location at "an old Cadillac dealership in South Central" Los Angeles. The interiors of the 1970s headquarters of Rainbow Records were filmed in the historic Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, according to studio publicity. Additionally, the location of Curtis and Deena's luxurious Hollywood mansion was the Frank Sinatra House in Chatsworth, CA. Various sources reported the film's final budget as $75 million.
       The picture opened for a limited, roadshow engagement on December 15, 2006 in one theater each in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with reserved seating and ticket prices set at $25. In a November 7, 2006 Daily Variety article, studio executives explained their decision to open the picture as old-fashioned roadshow as a desire to bring the picture to "audiences in a special way." Included at the roadshow venues were special lobby exhibits on the making of the film, complete with costumes and props.
       The picture marked the feature film debut of Jennifer Hudson, who had been a heavily favored finalist on the 2004 season of the television reality series American Idol, although she did not win. According to studio publicity, Hudson beat out more than 700 other actresses for the pivotal role of Effie. In a December 2006 interview with WSJ, Geffen, one of the producers of the Broadway show, announced that after finally shepherding Dreamgirls onto the screen, he was "finished with the movie business" and would turn to other ventures. In the article, Geffen noted that he had "declined to take a producer credit on the movie" because he thought of himself as "just a facilitator" for Condon and producer Lawrence Mark.
       On May 19, 2006, only a few weeks after the end of principal photography, approximately twenty minutes of the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. According to several newspaper articles, Paramount and DreamWorks mounted a campaign to advertise the picture by paying the licensing fees for all high schools, colleges, community theaters and any other non-commercial group that wanted to produce the stage show during 2006. Los Angeles Times noted on December 12, 2006 that to that date, more than fifty productions of the show had been staged around the country during the year, thanks to the promotion. In a December 12, 2006 Los Angeles Times interview, Holliday complained that her original Broadway cast recording of the song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was used in the film's trailers rather than Hudson's, and that she had not received any compensation.
       The film received rave reviews, especially for Hudson, Eddie Murphy, the cinematography and costumes. Rolling Stone declared Hudson's debut "a glorious, Oscar-ready cause for celebration" and called Murphy "electrifying in his riskiest role ever." Many reviewers also praised the decision to have the film emphasize the racial tensions and social changes of the 1960s and 1970s much more than the Broadway show.
       Dreamgirls was named one of AFI's Movies of the Year. In addition, the film won an Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing and, for her performance in the film, Hudson won Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and three nominations for Best Song ("Listen," "Love You I Do" and "Patience"). Murphy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Dreamgirls also received the following Golden Globes: Best Movie-Musical or Comedy; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Hudson); and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Murphy). The picture was also nominated for Golden Globes in the categories of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy (Knowles) and Best Original Song-Motion Picture ("Listen"). Dreamgirls was nominated for feature film of the year by the Producers Guild of America and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture by the Screen Actors Guild, which also nominated Hudson for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role and Murphy for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. Hudson received the Best Breakthrough Performance-Female award from the National Board of Review, was named Best Supporting Actress by the New York Film Critics and received a BAFTA award for Actress in a Supporting Role. Krieger was nominated for a BAFTA for Achievement in Film Music. Condon was nominated for Directorial Achievement in Feature Film by the Directors Guild in America.

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Breakthrough Performance Award (Jennifer Hudson) at the 2007 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Co-winner of the 2006 award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance (Jennifer Hudson) by the National Board of Review (NBR).

Co-winner of the 2006 Satellite Award for Best Director and winner of three 2006 Satellite Awards including Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson), Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical and Best Sound (Editing & Mixing) by the International Press Academy (IPA).

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2006 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2006 award for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Winner of the 2006 award for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) by the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC).

Winner of the 2006 award for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) by the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA).

Winner of the 2006 award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing by the Cinema Audio Society (CAS).

Winner of the 2006 Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film - Comedy or Musical by the American Cinema Editors (ACE).

Winner of the 2006 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing for Music in a Musical Feature Film by the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE).

Winner of two 2006 awards including Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy) and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

Released in United States Winter December 15, 2006

Expanded Release in United States December 25, 2006

Released in United States on Video May 1, 2007

Released in United States January 2007

Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival (Gala Presentations) January 4-15, 2007.

Based on the musical play "Dreamgirls" written by Tom Eyen.

Lauren Hill had previously been mentioned for the role of Deena Jones. Usher was previously mentioned for the role of C.C. White.

Joel Schumacher was previously attached to direct.

Aaliyah was attached to project until her untimely death.

David Geffen was previously attached to produce.

Project was previously in development with David Geffen's Geffen Pictures before he brought the project with him to DreamWorks SKG.

Project was in turnaround at Warner Bros.

Released in United States Winter December 15, 2006 (NY, SF)

Expanded Release in United States December 25, 2006

Released in United States on Video May 1, 2007

Released in United States January 2007 (Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival (Gala Presentations) January 4-15, 2007.)

Winner of the 2007 Artios Award for Feature Film - Drama by the Casting Society of America (CSA).