It's only fitting that the career of Beyonce and Destiny's Child mirrors the career of Diana Ross and The Supremes. The Pink Panther actress is starring in the new film Dreamgirls, based on the 1960's Broadway musical.
Last night, we got the opportunity to see a small performance from the stars of the film in Downtown Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theater (yes, the same Orpheum where the ‘Hollywood Round' of American Idol is held). The production number was towards the beginning of the film, with a song called 'Steppin' To The Bad Side.' We first got to see a clip of some of the movie with Jamie Foxx singing and dancing; then we moved into the theater.
It started off with Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson (yes, once again, from American Idol fame), and Anika Noni Rose singing and dancing in red sequin dresses. Then the curtains came up and the stage was filled with about 15 back-up singers and dancers. Next, Eddie Murphy was supposed to continue the song, but he couldn't make it. His stand in performed the rest.
After the three or four minute dance, Jamie Foxx came out on stage and thanked us all for being there. He then made fun of Eddie Murphy in his best voice, which was very similar to his Ray Charles voice (coincidently). But Jamie did say that he's never seen Eddie so happy to be in a movie.
Once the performance was done, we went back to a tent for some drinks and food. The stars of the film popped their heads in to show themselves and to talk a little to us. I spoke with Jennifer Hudson, who said she was so excited to be in this. "It's a dream come true! I knew the songs from the play, so it was fate when I was cast!"
Beyonce walked through the crowd along side her bodyguard, Shortie. Now, you have to understand something about Shortie; if you don't know, the man is about 6'6" and roughly 300 pounds. That's someone you don't want to mess with, so needless to say, we didn't get to talk to her.
Jamie stopped to talk to us after being bombarded with cameras and microphones. He plays Curtis, a singer turned record executive who discovers Beyonce's character. It's sort of a Barry Gordy-type, but that's not who he wanted to model Curtis after. He says he's been in the business long enough to know people like this, and it's not Gordy. "You really believe that sometimes they don't have a soul, and that's for the ones that are really only about the music business. Now, there are people who are into it for the music, like Quincy Jones is music business and music, Clive Davis is music business and music. But, then you'll meet those people on the under who just want to make money; basically, all of the artists are just product, a can of coke to them, so that's what Curtis is." Jamie also sings two other songs in the film.
Even though this film is set in the 60's, Jamie says the production numbers make it stick out in modern times. "Nobody really remembers all of that; when you think about it, a lot of people by just being young don't even remember the story of the Supremes. What we have to do is make them understand the story of Dreamgirls with some of the flavor of today. We all know the music business is a very tough business and my character let's you know exactly how tough it is."
As far as his feeling on Beyonce, Jamie thinks it's so amazing how it is a parallel between The Supremes and Destiny's Child. "We all kind of see Beyonce and Destiny's Child in a sense, to where she was put out there in front; there were even jokes about it at one time. It's almost captured a little bit of that too, because you have to look at Beyonce, any time you look at her, that's it, she's the one. And to have that and be able to have Beyonce singing, come on."
Dreamgirls is halfway through on production; look for it to hit theaters in December, 2006.