Fantasia Blowing It Again: Mahalia Jackson Estate “Aghast” at Her Pregnancy; Film Runs Risk of Folding

"The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not ...

Life sure ain't no fairytale, but you don't have to make it a trainwreck either (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Sergio at Shadow and Act is reporting that Fantasia Barrino has horrified family members of the Estate of Mahalia Jackson, the revered gospel singer, because of her pregnancy with the still-married Antwaun Cook.  There are fears now that the Euzhan Palcy-directed film is on the verge of folding because the pregnancy has thrown the shooting schedule out of kilter.   Worse, Palcy herself may bow out because of other film commitments; there is only so much time that she can give to a project.  Check it out:

According to the New York Post members of the “legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s estate were aghast that Barrino has become pregnant by a married man” The producers said that she claimed that she was putting on weight for the role and not telling them about her unexpected pregnancy until she was four months in.

.But the family is now having second thoughts about Barrino playing the role. Executive producer of the film Adrian Taylor told the Post that “the family thinks if Fantasia plays the role, it’s going to sully the name of Mahalia. They think she’s got the wrong image, having a child out of wedlock.”

But that’s not all. Barrino’s pregnancy has caused havoc with the shooting schedule. Shooting has now been delayed until after her due date in late December and as a result Palcy may be forced to drop out of the production due to scheduling conflicts.

The producers are still aiming for a fall 2012 release and Barrino has been asked to start filming sometime in January if possible. However the Post is also reporting that the producers are currently looking for a replacement for Barrino if she fails to meet tthe shooting start date and one possible replacement is rumored to be Missy Elliott.

Missy Elliott?  Does this girl know how to really sing?   Just because she has a tendency to be heavy, like Mahalia was?

The film’s $23 million dollar budget, like Barrino’s tummy, has swelled another four million.  According to the Post article, Barrino is asking for revisions in her contract that would allow her time to breast feed and care for her baby while on set.

SMH.  Film producers should stop with getting contemporary singers to play roles like this.  The name that comes up often among  those commenting to play Mahalia Jackson at S & A is actress Octavia Spencer, who played Minny Jackson in The Help,  home care nurse Kate in Seven Pounds,  and who also played INS case worker Constance Grady in Ugly Betty.  Despite being hot right now, Spencer may also have other commitments and may thus be unavailable to play the gospel singer.  Unfortunately, I don’t know whether Spencer can carry a note; does anyone else have a clue?  But she’s a disciplined actress with some cred, and I’d rather they dub an actress than try to get a singer.

And Fantasia?   The child, said to be a boy, is arriving around December 27.   She’s been bedridden due to complications since her announcement, and she has cancelled other engagements.  The baby shower was October 1.  It may not be a coincidence that the shower fell on the wedding anniversary of the estranged Mr. and Mrs. Antwaun Cook.  This girl is just keeps racking up bad karma.

If she lied to the producers about the true nature of her condition, this may lead Fantasia back into the courts and having to pay monetary damages, particularly if the film sinks before it is even made.  If she gets cut from the cast, she’s also cut off from much needed income, a consequence that would add to her already quirky and unreliable reputation. People will be hesitant to bank on her.  Look, a Judy Garland or an Elizabeth Taylor she is not.  She seems to think that she is.  Fantasia does not have that much money and little cred to fall back on to afford the luxury of not working at her career.  I wish this woman would wake up.

If some people think that Mahalia’s family is out of step with the times, understand that they have their memories and knowledge of the singer, and they are concerned about keeping their late relative’s reputation comparatively spotless.  Born to a single mother in an extended family in New Orleans, Mahalia was not wild, but she knew how to have a good time.   She was very religious, even when she fell in love.  She had man problems, but they occurred while she was in the marriage state.  Mahalia was married twice, but not for very long.  After a while, she called a halt to such drama, because these two men–first, Isaac Hockenhull and then, Sigmund Galloway–filled the role of husband by taking advantage of her.  As a result, neither of the two men were mentioned in her will by the time she died in 1972.

Mahalia Jackson was a woman who was caught up in her art, her religion, her family, civil rights, and her strenuous singing tours across the country and around the world.  Her husbands were more concerned with spending or gambling away her money, or investing it badly, or worse, trying to run her life.  Especially during financial lows, this latter pressure took the form of attempts to force her to sing or record jazz or blues against her will.  The Queen of Gospel steadfastly refused to sing secular music throughout her life, believing that gospel was the only true way for her to express her Divinely-given talent.

Remember when Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake in that famous “wardrobe malfunction” controversy during a Super Bowl performance in 2004?  Jackson lost her role as Lena Horne in an ABC television bio of the singer, a 2003 selection that was approved by not only Horne, but by her daughter and heir, Gail Lumet Buckley.  In the fallout, the aging singer and Buckley demanded that Jackson not take part in the film, and she complied. Don’t underestimate the say-so of those family members who participate in the estates of these deceased public figures.  It’s the equivalent of the morality clause in an entertainment contract.  It may be Old School, but it is the only school that counts with them.  They will not allow their famous relative to  be subsumed by the off-screen woes of the individual portraying her.  It could harsh any other financial deals involving photographs, posters, books, CDs, performances and other media.   And particularly with black women public figures like Lena and Mahalia, protecting their legacies and reputations are paramount.

This new episode with the Mahalia film, and previously, Fantasia’s physical (and probably emotional) problems with the Broadway production of The Color Purple produced by Oprah Winfrey, which caused her to leave the show early, makes me think that there are issues involved other than money.  It’s not only financial pressure, I feel, but Fantasia’s by-now ambivalent feelings about having fame and celebrity (or notoriety) that is also causing her to make bad decisions, like having this baby now with that man.

Fantasia needs to make up her mind.  If she wants a career as an entertainer or actress, she has to play the game and not piss off people who are investing in her and ultimately placing their confidence in her.   She has to follow through.  The Universe knows how she will recover from this latest disaster.  I just hope that the film gets off the ground and doesn’t incur further costs.  Oh, having a child can be wonderful, and I am not against that.  However,  it has to be the right time, and barrother, I think that this was not the right time for her.

~ by blksista on October 9, 2011.

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