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Dreamgirls is a American musical film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced and released by DreamWorks Picturesmarker and Paramount Pictures. The film debuted in three special road show engagements beginning December 15, 2006, with a nationwide release on December 25, 2006 and a home video release on May 1, 2007. Dreamgirls won three awards at the 64th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in 2007, including Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, and won two Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards.

A period piece set in the 1960s and 1970s with a primarily African-American Ensemble cast, Dreamgirls is adapted from the 1981 Broadwaymarker musical of the same name. The musical was based on the history and evolution of American R&B music during the eras of doo-wop, soul, the Motown Sound, funk, and disco. In addition, the stage musical contains several allusions to the lives and careers of Motown Records act The Supremes, a connection the film version expands upon. Dreamgirls follows the lives of Effie White, Deena Jones, and Lorrell Robinson, three young women who form an R&B singing trio from Detroit, Michiganmarker called "The Dreamettes". Thanks to manipulative agent and record executive Curtis Taylor, Jr., the Dreamettes become famous as the backing group for soul singer James "Thunder" Early. Conflict arises when Curtis transforms "The Dreamettes" into the pop-friendly "Dreams," particularly when he has Deena replace Effie as both lead singer of the group and as his romantic interest.

The film adaptation of Dreamgirls stars Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson, who won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Effie White. The film also features Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Sharon Leal, and Hinton Battle. Produced by Laurence Mark, Dreamgirls was adapted for the screen by director Bill Condon from the original Broadway book by Tom Eyen and the Broadway songs by Eyen and Henry Krieger. Four new songs, composed by Krieger with various lyricists, were added for this film.

Plot

As in the original stage musical, the plot of Dreamgirls is broken up into two sections or acts: the first taking place from 1962 to 1966, and the second taking place from 1973 to 1975.

Act I

The film begins in Detroit, Michigan in 1962, as an amateur African-American girl group known as The Dreamettes enter a talent competition at the Detroit Theater. Backstage, the three girls — full-figured lead singer Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson — meet Curtis Taylor, Jr., an ambitious Cadillac dealer with plans of breaking into the music business. Placing himself as their manager, Curtis arranges for the Dreamettes to tour as backup for a regional R&B star, James "Thunder" Early. The tour takes the company - also including Effie's songwriting brother C.C. and Jimmy's manager Marty - across the country on the chitlin' circuit.

Hoping to help Jimmy and the girls cross over to mainstream audiences, Curtis starts his own record label, Rainbow Records ("The Sound of Tomorrow"), out of his car dealership's office, and makes C.C. his head songwriter. However, when Rainbow's first single fails after a white pop group releases a cover version, Curtis and his sidekick Wayne turn to payola. By paying the right people, Curtis manages to get Jimmy and the Dreamettes to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and into a headlining gig at the Apollo Theater. Offstage, Effie is quickly becoming infatuated with the slick-talking Curtis, and Jimmy - a married man - begins an adulterous affair with Lorrell, who becomes equally as lovesick as Effie.

Marty grows weary of Curtis' plans to make Jimmy's image and sound more pop-friendly, to the point that he walks out on Jimmy, both his client and best friend. However, when Curtis finds that he cannot completely remake Jimmy Early into a pop act, he shifts his attention back to the Dreamettes. Feeling that Effie's voice is too "special" and her figure too large to attract white audiences, Curtis appoints the slimmer Deena as the lead singer of the Dreamettes. Though both Effie and Deena are disapproving of the change at first, they both learn to accept it.

With the aid of new songs and a new more glamorous image, Curtis and C.C. transform The Dreamettes into The Dreams, a top selling pop act whose popularity comes to rival that of The Beatles by 1965. However, the betrayed Effie does not take kindly to being reduced to Deena's backup, and begins acting out, becoming even more unruly when Curtis' affections also turn towards Deena. When Effie, feeling ill, does not turn up to rehearse for the Dreams' debut in Las Vegasmarker on New Year's Eve 1966 , Curtis replaces Effie with his secretary, Michelle Morris. Effie, who has just learned she is pregnant, arrives at the Caesar's Palacemarker venue just as Michelle does, and after a nearly violent argument, finds herself without her group and without Curtis.

Act II

Eight years later, in 1973, Effie has become a depressed but caring welfare mother, and her career in music is over. She and her daughter Magic live alone in the burnt-out inner city of Detroitmarker with only Effie's father Ronald to look in on them. On the other hand, Rainbow Records has moved to Los Angelesmarker, where it prospers with Deena Jones & the Dreams and many other pop acts. Wanting to expand his empire into film, Curtis plans to have an unwilling Deena, now his wife, star in an all-black musical version of Cleopatra.

Though still part of the Rainbow roster, Jimmy Early's stardom has long faded, and Curtis has little interest in revitalizing his career. Unsatisfied with both his wife Melba and his long-term mistress Lorrell, Jimmy turns to drugs for affection. Meanwhile, C.C. continues to reach out to Effie, who stubbornly ignores the letters and money he sends. Eventually, Effie swallows her pride and, with Marty as her manager, returns to singing and secures gigs at a small Detroit club.

In 1974, Rainbow Records hosts a tenth anniversary TV special. Midway through his set, Jimmy decides that he cannot sing any more "sad songs", so he breaks down onstage and launches into a wild James Brown-type funk number. The audience seems to love it, but the act goes too far when Jimmy drops his pants on live television. Curtis consequently terminates Jimmy's contract, and Lorrell reluctantly ends the eight-year affair.

Shortly after the special, Deena meets with a film producer and writer in an attempt to get a role in a grittier film than Curtis' glossy Cleopatra update, and after some negotiations they agree to give her the film role. Back at Rainbow Records, C.C. walks out on Curtis and the label after learning that Curtis has taken C.C.'s latest composition and turned it into a rhythm-heavy dance track (identifiable as early disco). His resignation is interrupted, however, by the news that Jimmy Early has been found dead at an L.A. hotel from a heroin overdose.

C.C. leaves L.A. and Michelle, now his girlfriend, to return to Detroit and find Effie. The two siblings reconcile and work together to produce Effie's comeback single, "One Night Only". Just as the record begins gaining radio play in Detroit, however, Curtis strikes. Using payola, he forces radio DJs to play a disco cover of "One Night Only" by Deena Jones & the Dreams instead of Effie's original, and the Dreams' version becomes a major hit in early 1975.

Curtis has also learned of Deena's covert meetings with other film producers and asserts his control over his wife. Rebuffed, Deena sneaks into Curtis' office, where she discovers evidence of Curtis' payola schemes and a copy of Effie's version of "One Night Only". She calls Effie and C.C., who arrive at the Rainbow offices with Marty and a lawyer. As Deena and Effie reconcile, Curtis works out a deal with the lawyer to avoid being reported to the FBImarker for payola: Rainbow Records will fund a new label for C.C., which will allow Effie's record national distribution. Curtis then confronts Deena, only to find that Effie's victory has inspired Deena to leave him and make it on her own.

As a result, Deena Jones & the Dreams give a farewell performance at the Detroit Theater. At the conclusion of the concert, Effie joins Deena, Lorrell, and Michelle onstage and the reunited Dreams give one final performance of their signature song, "Dreamgirls", with Effie singing lead. As the concert ends, Curtis notices Magic in the front row and seemingly realizes that he is the girl's father.

Cast

  • Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor, Jr. Based upon Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., Curtis is a slick Cadillac dealer-turned-record executive who founds the Rainbow Records label and shows ruthless ambition in his quest to make his black artists household names with white audiences.
  • Beyoncé Knowles as Deena Jones. Based upon Motown star Diana Ross, Knowles was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance.
  • Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early. "Jimmy" Early, inspired by R&B/soul singers such as David Ruffin, Jackie Wilson, and Marvin Gaye, is a raucous performer on the Rainbow label whom Curtis attempts to repackage as a pop-friendly balladeer. Murphy won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film.
  • Jennifer Hudson as Effie White. Inspired by Supremes member Florence Ballard and soul singers Etta James and Aretha Franklin, the plus-sized Effie is a talented yet temperamental singer who suffers after Curtis, the man she loves, replaces her as lead singer of the Dreams with Deena and later drops her altogether. Hudson won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, among many other awards, for her portrayal of Effie.
  • Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson. Lorrell, inspired by Supremes member Mary Wilson, is a good-natured background singer with the Dreams who falls deeply in love with the married Jimmy Early and becomes his mistress.
  • Danny Glover as Marty Madison. Jimmy's original manager before Curtis steps into the picture, Marty serves as both counsel and confidant to Jimmy, and later to Effie as well.
  • Keith Robinson as C.C. White. Inspired by Motown vice president, artist, and songwriter Smokey Robinson, Effie's soft-spoken younger brother C.C. (Clarence Conrad) serves as the main songwriter for first the Dreamettes and later the entire Rainbow roster.
  • Sharon Leal as Michelle Morris. Michelle, based upon Supremes member Cindy Birdsong, replaces Effie in the Dreams and becomes C.C.'s love interest.
  • Hinton Battle as Wayne. Wayne is a salesman at Curtis' Cadillac dealership who becomes Rainbow's first record producer and Curtis' henchman.


Dreamgirls also features supporting performances from Mariah I. Wilson as Magic, Effie's daughter; Yvette Cason as May Jones, Deena's mother; Ken Page as club owner Max Washington; and Alexander Folk as Ronald White, Effie and C.C.'s father. Cameo appearances in the film are made by John Lithgow and John Krasinski as a film producer and his screenwriter, Jaleel White as a talent booker at the Detroit Theater, Dawnn Lewis as Melba Early, Jimmy's wife, and Loretta Devine, who originated the role of Lorrell on Broadway, as a jazz singer in Max Washington's club who sings "I Miss You Old Friend". Laura Bell Bundy, a Broadwaymarker veteran featured in such musicals as Legally Blonde and Hairspray, plays one of the sweethearts featured in the "Cadillac Car" reprise.

Throughout the film, a number of other musical acts depicted as allusions to or analogues of real-life R&B performers appear, among them Little Albert & the Tru-Tones (Little Anthony & The Imperials), Tiny Joe Dixon (B. B. King), The Family Funk (Sly & the Family Stone), and The Campbell Connection (The Jackson 5).

Musical numbers

Act I
  1. "I'm Lookin' for Something" - The Stepp Sisters
  2. "Takin' the Long Way Home" - Tiny Joe Dixon
  3. "Move" - The Dreamettes
  4. "Fake Your Way to the Top" - James "Thunder" Early & the Dreamettes
  5. "Cadillac Car" - James "Thunder" Early & the Dreamettes
  6. "Cadillac Car (Reprise)" - Dave & the Sweethearts
  7. "Steppin' to the Bad Side" - Curtis Taylor Jr., C.C. White, Wayne, James "Thunder" Early & the Dreamettes, and Chorus
  8. "Love You I Do" - Effie White
  9. "I Want You Baby" - Jimmy Early & the Dreamettes
  10. "Family" - C.C. White, Effie White, Curtis Taylor Jr., Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson
  11. "Dreamgirls" - The Dreams
  12. "Heavy" - The Dreams
  13. "It's All Over" - Effie White, Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, Michelle Morris, C.C. White and Curtis Taylor Jr.
  14. "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" - Effie White
  15. "Love Love Me Baby" - Deena Jones & the Dreams


Act II
  1. "I'm Somebody" - Deena Jones & the Dreams
  2. "When I First Saw You" - Curtis Taylor Jr.
  3. "Patience" - Jimmy Early, Lorrell Robinson, C.C. White, and Chorus
  4. "I Am Changing" - Effie White
  5. "Perfect World" - The Campbell Connection
  6. "I Meant You No Harm/Jimmy's Rap" - Jimmy Early
  7. "Lorrell Loves Jimmy" - Lorrell Robinson
  8. "Family (Reprise)" - Deena Jones & the Dreams
  9. "Step on Over" - Deena Jones & the Dreams
  10. "I Miss You Old Friend" - Jazz Singer
  11. "Effie, Sing My Song" - C.C. White and Effie White (deleted from theatrical version, present on DVD)
  12. "One Night Only" - Effie White
  13. "One Night Only " -Deena Jones & the Dreams
  14. "Listen" - Deena Jones
  15. "Hard to Say Goodbye" - Deena Jones & the Dreams
  16. "Dreamgirls (Finale)" - The Dreams


Production

Pre-production

Since the 1980s, several different attempts have been made to produce a film adaptation of Dreamgirls, a Broadway musical loosely based upon the story of The Supremes and Motown Records, which won six Tony Awards in 1982. David Geffen, the stage musical's co-financier, retained the film rights to Dreamgirls and turned down many offers to adapt the story for the screen. He cited a need to preserve the integrity of Dreamgirls stage director Michael Bennett's work after his death in 1987. That same year, Geffen, who ran his Warner Bros.-associated Geffen Pictures film production company at the time, began talks with Broadway lyricist and producer Howard Ashman to adapt it as a star vehicle for Whitney Houston, who was to portray Deena. The production ran into problems when Houston wanted to sing both Deena's and Effie's songs (particularly "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"), and the film was eventually abandoned.

When David Geffen co-founded DreamWorks SKG in 1994 and dissolved Geffen Pictures, the rights to Dreamgirls remained with Warner Bros. Warner planned to go ahead with the film with director Joel Schumacher in the late 1990s, following the success of Touchstone's Tina Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do with It. Schumacher planned to have Lauryn Hill portray Deena and Kelly Price play Effie. After Warner's Frankie Lymon biopic Why Do Fools Fall in Love failed at the box office, the studio shut down development on Dreamgirls.

DreamWorks' Dreamgirls adaptation came about after the film version of the Broadway musical Chicago was a success at both the box office and the Academy Awards. Screenwriter and director Bill Condon, who wrote the screenplay for Chicago, met producer Laurence Mark at a Hollywood party in 2002, where the two discussed a long held "dream project" of Condon's - adapting Dreamgirls for the screen. The two had dinner with Geffen and successfully convinced him to greenlight Condon's adaptation of Dreamgirls.

Stage to script changes

While much of the stage musical's story remains intact, a number of significant changes were made. The Dreams' hometown—the setting for much of the action—was moved from Chicagomarker to Detroit, the real-life hometown of The Supremes and Motown Records. The roles of many of the characters are related more closely to their real-life inspirations, following a suggestion by Geffen. For example, Curtis Taylor's music empire expands beyond Deena Jones & the Dreams, to more closely resemble that of Berry Gordy's Motown; and C.C. White, as the head of songwriting and production at Rainbow Records is more clearly a Smokey Robinson analogue than he was in the original play. Other changes include the relocating of the talent show which opens the film from the Apollo Theatermarker Amateur Night to a local showcase in Detroit and introducing the character Michelle Morris earlier in the story.

Warner Bros. had retained the film rights to Dreamgirls, and agreed to co-produce the film with DreamWorks. However, after casting was completed, the film was budgeted at $73 million and Warner backed out of the production. Geffen, taking the role of co-producer, brought Paramount Pictures in to co-finance and release Dreamgirls. During the course of production, Paramount's parent company, Viacom, would purchase DreamWorks, aligning the two studios under one umbrella. The completed film had a production budget of $75 million, making Dreamgirls the most expensive film with an all-black starring cast in cinema history.

Casting and rehearsal

Producers wanted Jamie Foxx to play the lead role of Curtis Taylor, Jr., but the actor initially declined the part because DreamWorks could not meet his salary demands. Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Terrence Howard were among the actors later approached to play Curtis. In the meantime, R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles was cast as Deena Jones after a successful screen test. Comedian Eddie Murphy, who had a brief musical career in the 1980s, was cast as James "Thunder" Early after being successfully convinced to do so by DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. As a result, Dreamgirls became Murphy's first film for Paramount since 1995; the actor at one time had an exclusive contract with that studio.

Upon learning that Knowles and Murphy had signed on, Foxx rethought his original decision and accepted the role at DreamWorks' lower salary. R&B star Usher was to have been cast as C.C. White, but contract negotiations failed: Usher was unable to dedicate half a year to the film project. André 3000 of OutKast was also offered the role, but declined. After briefly considering R&B singer Omarion, singer/actor Keith Robinson was eventually cast in the role.

Anika Noni Rose, a Broadway veteran and a Tony Award winner, won the part of Lorrell Robinson after an extensive auditioning process. Rose, significantly shorter than most of her co-stars at five feet and two inches, was required to wear (and dance in) four and five-inch (127 mm) heels for much of the picture, which she later stated caused her discomfort. This is not Rose's first screen appearance with an American Idol contestant; she was also in the unsuccessful film From Justin to Kelly with Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini.

The most crucial casting decision involved the role of Effie White, the emotional center of the story. It was decided that a relative unknown would be cast, paralleling the casting of then-21-year-old Jennifer Holliday in that role for the original Broadway production. A total of 783 singing actresses auditioned for the role of Effie White, among them American Idol alumnae Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson, Nicci Gilbert from the R&B group Brownstone, TV star Raven-Symoné, and Broadway star Capathia Jenkins. Hudson was eventually selected to play Effie, leading Barrino to call Hudson on the phone and jokingly complain that Hudson "stole [Barrino's] part." " Hudson was required to gain twenty pounds for the role, which marked her debut film performance.

After Hudson was cast in November 2005, the Dreamgirls cast began extensive rehearsals with Condon and choreographers Aakomon "AJ" Jones and Fatima Robinson, a veteran of the music video industry. Meanwhile, the music production crew began work with the actors and studio musicians recording the songs for the film. Although rehearsals ended just before Christmas 2005, Bill Condon called Hudson back for a week of one-on-one rehearsals, to help her more fully become the "diva" character of Effie. Hudson was required to be rude and come in late both on set and off, and she and Condon went over Effie's lines and scenes throughout the week.

Loretta Devine, who played Lorrell in the original Broadway play, has a cameo in the film as a jazz singer who performs the song "I Miss You Old Friend". Another Dreamgirls veteran present in the film is Hinton Battle, who was a summer replacement for James "Thunder" Early onstage and here portrays Curtis' aide-de-camp Wayne.

Principal photography

Principal photography on Dreamgirls began January 6, 2006 with the filming of dance footage for the first half of "Steppin' to the Bad Side", footage later deleted from the film. The film was primarily shot on soundstages at the Los Angelesmarker Center Studios, with location work done in the Los Angeles area, and some second unit footage shot in Detroit, Miami, and New York City. The award-winning Broadway lighting team of Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer were brought in to create theatrical lighting techniques for the film's musical numbers.

Beyoncé Knowles elected to lose weight to give the mature Deena Jones of the 1970s a different look than the younger version of the character. By sticking to a highly publicized diet of water and cayenne pepper, Knowles rapidly lost twenty pounds, which she gained back once production ended. Principal photography was completed in the early-morning hours of April 8, 2006, after four days were spent shooting Jennifer Hudson's musical number "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", which had been saved until the end of the shoot.

Music

Dreamgirls musical supervisors Randy Spendlove and Matt Sullivan hired R&B production team The Underdogs - Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas - to restructure and rearrange the Henry Krieger/Tom Eyen Dreamgirls score so that it better reflected its proper time period, yet was also made to reflect modern R&B/pop sensibilities. During post-production, composer Stephen Trask was contracted to provide additional score material for the film.

Revising the Dreamgirls score for film required the reduction of a significant portion of it. Much of the recitative, or sung dialogue, from the original musical was replaced with spoken dialogue. While most of the major musical moments from the stage musical are retained in the film, nine of the thirty-two individual Dreamgirls songs were omitted from the film. Among these are Lorrell's solo "Ain't No Party", "Press Conference", and "Party, Party". Also removed is the musical's choral refrain of "showbiz ... it's just showbiz". Some of the song were used in different contexts or locales in the film: the first half of "I Miss You, Old Friend", sung by a quartet of female singers in the stage musical as C.C. and Effie meet for the first time in years, is sung in the film by a jazz singer at a wake for Jimmy Early, although the story point remains the same. The second half of the song, C.C. and Effie's sung reunion labeled "Effie, Sing My Song" on the soundtrack, was shot but replaced with an alternative spoken version after test screenings.

Four new songs were added for the film, "Love You I Do", "Patience", "Perfect World", and "Listen". All of the new songs feature music composed by original Dreamgirls stage composer Henry Krieger. With Tom Eyen having passed away in 1991, various lyricists were brought in by Krieger to co-author the new songs. "Love You I Do", with lyrics by Siedah Garrett, is performed in the film by Effie during a rehearsal at the Rainbow Records studio. Willie Reale wrote the lyrics for "Patience", a song performed in the film by Jimmy, Lorrell, C.C., and a gospel choir as the characters attempt to record a "message song" for Jimmy. "Perfect World", also featuring lyrics by Garrett, is performed during the Rainbow 10th anniversary special sequence by Jackson 5 doppelgängers The Campbell Connection. "Listen", with additional music by Scott Cutler and Beyoncé Knowles, and lyrics by Anne Preven, is presented as a defining moment for Deena's character late in the film.

The Dreamgirls: Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack album was released on December 5 by Music World Entertainment/Columbia Records, in both a single-disc version containing highlights and a double-disc "Deluxe Version" containing all of the film's songs. The single-disc version of the soundtrack peaked at number-one on the Billboard 200 during a slow sales week in early January 2007. "Listen" was the first official single from the soundtrack, supported by a music video featuring Beyoncé. "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was the Dreamgirls soundtrack's second single. Though a music video with all-original footage was once planned, the video eventually released for "And I Am Telling You" comprised the entire corresponding scene in the actual film.

Reception

Premieres, road show engagements, and general releases

Dreamgirls premiered on December 4, 2006 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, where it received a standing ovation. The film's Los Angelesmarker premiere was held on December 11 at the Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hillsmarker.

Hearkening back to the releases of older Hollywood musicals such as The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, Dreamgirls debuted with three special ten-day road show engagements beginning on December 15, 2006 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York Citymarker, the Cinerama Domemarker in Los Angelesmarker, and the AMC Metreon 15 in San Franciscomarker. Tickets for the reserved seats were $25 each; the premium price included a forty-eight page full-color program and a limited-print lithograph. This release made Dreamgirls the first American feature film to have a road show release since Man of La Mancha in 1972. Dreamgirls earned a total of $851,664 from the roadshow engagements, playing to sold-out houses on the weekends. The film's national release, at regular prices, began on December 25. Outside of the U.S., Dreamgirls opened in Australia on January 18, and in the United Kingdom on February 2. Releases in other countries began on various dates between January and early March. Dreamgirls eventually grossed $103 million in the United States, and $154 million worldwide.

DreamWorks Home Entertainment released Dreamgirls to home video on May 1, 2007 in DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray formats. The DVD version was issued in two editions: a one-disc standard version and a two-disc "Showstopper Edition". The two-disc version also included a feature-length production documentary, production featurettes, screen tests, animatics, and other previsualization materials and artwork. Both DVD versions featured alternate and extended versions of the musical numbers from the film as extras, including the "Effie, Sing My Song" scene deleted during previews. An extended "director's cut" of the film is currently planned for release in the future.

Both the Blu-Ray and HD DVD versions were issued in two-disc formats. Dreamgirls was the first DreamWorks film to be issued in a high definition home entertainment format.

Critical and celebrity reaction

Reviews for Dreamgirls were generally positive, resulting in a 78% composite critical approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers gave the film three and a half stars (out of four) and the number-two position on his "best of 2006" list, stating that "despite transitional bumps, Condon does Dreamgirls proud". David Rooney of Variety reported that the film featured "tremendously exciting musical sequences" and that "after The Phantom of the Opera, Rent and The Producers botched the transfer from stage to screen, Dreamgirls gets it right."

On the December 10, 2006 episode of the television show Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper and guest critic Aisha Tyler (filling in for the recovering Roger Ebert) gave the film "two thumbs up", with Roeper's reservations that it was "a little short on heart and soul" and "deeply conventional". Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter was less enthusiastic, stating that while the film was "a damn good commercial movie, it is not the film that will revive the musical or win over the world". Ed Gonzales of Slant magazine found the entire picture too glossy, and declared that "the film doesn't care to articulate the emotions that haunt its characters".

Many reviews, regardless of their overall opinion of the film, cited Jennifer Hudson's and Eddie Murphy's performances as standouts, with Peter Travers proclaiming Murphy's performance of "Jimmy's Rap" as "his finest screen moment." Television host Oprah Winfrey saw the film during a November 15 press screening, and telephoned Hudson on the Oprah episode airing the next day, praising her performance as "a religious experience" and "a transcendent performance". A review for The Celebrity Cafe adds that Hudson's voice "is like nothing we’ve heard in a long time, and her acting is a great match for that power-house sound."

Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie onstage, expressed her disappointment at not being involved in the film project in several TV, radio, and print interviews. Holliday in particular objected to the fact that her 1982 recording of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" was used in an early Dreamgirls film teaser trailer created before production began. Many of the other original Dreamgirls Broadway cast members, among them Obba Babatundé, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Cleavant Derricks, were interviewed for a Jet magazine article in which they discussed their varying opinions of both the Dreamgirls film's script and production.

Awards

DreamWorks and Paramount began a significant awards campaign for Dreamgirls while the film was still in production. In February 2006, the press was invited on set to a special live event showcasing the making of the film, including a live performance of "Steppin' to the Bad Side" by the cast. Three months later, twenty minutes of the film - specifically, the musical sequences "Fake Your Way to the Top", "Family", "When I First Saw You", and "Dreamgirls" - were screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, with most of the cast and crew in attendance. The resulting positive buzz earned Dreamgirls the status of "front-runner" for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Picture and several of the other Oscars as well.

Following the success of the Cannes screening, DreamWorks and Paramount began a widespread "For Your Consideration" advertisement campaign, raising several eyebrows by demoting Jennifer Hudson to consideration for Best Supporting Actress and presenting Beyoncé Knowles as the sole Best Actress candidate, as opposed to having both compete for Best Actress awards. By contrast, the actresses who originated Hudson's and Knowles' roles on Broadway, Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph, respectively, were both nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress, with Holliday winning the award. The presentation of Knowles over Hudson as the sole Best Actress candidate had interesting parallels with the film itself.

Dreamgirls received eight 2007 Academy Award nominations covering six categories, tied for the most of any film for the year, although it was not nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, or either of the lead acting categories. The film's nominations included Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson), Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and three nominations for Best Song ("Listen", "Love You I Do", and "Patience"). Dreamgirls is the first live-action film to receive three nominations for Best Song; previously the Disney animated features Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Lion King (1994) had each received three Academy Award nominations for Best Song; Enchanted (2007) has since repeated the feat. In addition, Dreamgirls is the first film in Academy Award history to receive the highest number of nominations for the year, yet not be nominated for Best Picture. The film's failure to gain a Best Picture or Best Director nod was widely viewed by the entertainment press as a "snub" by the Academy. Some journalists registered shock, others cited a "backlash". On the other hand, director Bill Condon stated that "I think academy members just liked the other movies better" and that he believed that "we were never going to win even if we were nominated."

At the Academy Awards ceremony on February 25, 2007, Dreamgirls won the awards for Best Supporting Actress and Sound Mixing. As such, Hudson became one of the few actresses ever to win an Oscar for a film debut performance. In what was considered an upset, Eddie Murphy lost the Best Supporting Actor award to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine. Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, and Keith Robinson performed a medley of the three Dreamgirls songs nominated for Best Original Song, although all three songs lost the award to "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth.

For the 2007 Golden Globe Awards, Dreamgirls was nominated in five categories: Best Picture - Comedy or Musical, Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical (Beyoncé Knowles), Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson), and Best Original Song ("Listen"). The film won the awards for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. Dreamgirls received eight NAACP Image Award nominations, winning for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) and Outstanding Album (the soundtrack LP). It was also named as one of the American Film Institute's top ten films of 2006.

The film also garnered Screen Actors Guild Awards for Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) and Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), as well as a nomination for its ensemble cast. The film was also nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Best Picture and the Directors Guild of America for Bill Condon's directing. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave the film awards for Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) and Music (Henry Krieger).Furthermore, Dreamgirls was nominated for eleven 2007 International Press Academy Satellite Awards, and won four of the awards: Best Picture - Comedy or Musical, Best Director (Bill Condon), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson), and Best Sound (Mixing & Editing). Dreamgirls also received a record eleven Black Reel Award nominations, and won six of the awards, among them Best Film. At the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony, "Love You I Do" won the award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. The Dreamgirls soundtrack was also nominated for the Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album.

For the opening performance at the 2007 BET Awards on June 26 of that year, Jennifer Hudson performed a duet of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with her predecessor, Jennifer Holliday. Later that night, Hudson won the BET Award for Best Actress.

Related promotions and products

To give the story more exposure for the upcoming film release, DreamWorks Pictures and the licenser of the original play, The Tams-Witmark Music Library, announced that they would pay the licensing fees for all non-professional stage performances of Dreamgirls for the calendar year of 2006. DreamWorks hoped to encourage amateur productions of Dreamgirls, and familiarize a wider audience with the play. As a result, more than fifty high schools, colleges, community theaters, and other non-commercial theater entities staged productions of Dreamgirls in 2006, and DreamWorks spent up to $250,000 subsidizing the licensing.

The Dreamgirls novelization was written by African-American novelist Denene Millner, and adapts the film's official script in chapter form, along with fourteen pages of photographs from the film. The book was released on October 31, 2006. A scrapbook, entitled Dreamgirls: The Movie Musical, was released on March 27, 2007. The limited edition program guide accompanying the Dreamgirls road show release was made available for retail purchase in February. In addition, the Tonnor Doll Company released "The Dreamettes" collection, featuring dolls of the characters Deena, Lorrell, and Effie, to coincide with the release of the film.

Allusions to factual events

Aside from the overall plot of the film and elements already present in the stage musical, many direct references to Supremes, Motown, or R&B/soul history in general are included in the film. In one scene, Effie saunters into Curtis' office and discusses Rainbow Records' latest LP, The Great March to Freedom, a spoken word album featuring speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr.. This LP is an authentic Motown release, issued as Gordy 906 in June 1963. A later scene features Curtis and the Dreams recording in the studio, while a riot rages outside. By comparison, Motown's Hitsville USAmarker studio remained open and active during Detroit's 12th Street Riotmarker in July 1967. The photo shoot montage which accompanies "When I First Saw You", as well as the subplot of Deena being forced to star in Curtis' Cleopatra film against her will, reflect both scenes from and the production of Mahogany, a 1975 Motown film starring Diana Ross and directed by Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr.. Like Dreamgirls, Mahogany was also distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Among the more direct references are the uses of adapted Supremes album cover designs for albums recorded in the film by the Dreams. Three Supremes albums - Let the Sunshine In, Cream of the Crop, and Touch - were reworked into Deena Jones & The Dreams album designs, with the only differences in the designs being the substitution of the names and images of the Supremes with those of Deena Jones & the Dreams. Another Dreams LP seen in the film, Meet the Dreams, is represented by an album cover derived from the designs for the Supremes LPs More Hits by the Supremes and The Supremes A' Go-Go. The Brewster-Douglass housing projectsmarker, where Supremes members Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard grew up, are shown in an insert shot as the housing project the Dreamettes grew up in.

Diana Ross, long a critic of the Broadway version of Dreamgirls for what she saw as an appropriation of her life story, denied having seen the film version. On the other hand, Mary Wilson attended the film's Los Angeles premiere, later stating that Dreamgirls moved her to tears and that it was "closer to the truth than they even know".

Smokey Robinson, however, was less than pleased about Dreamgirls' allusions to Motown history. In a January 25, 2007 interview with NPR, Robinson expressed offense at the film's portrayal of its Berry Gordy analogue, Curtis Taylor Jr., as a "villainous character" who deals in payola and other illegal activities. He repeated these concerns in a later interview with Access Hollywood, adding that he felt DreamWorks and Paramount owed Gordy an apology. On February 23, a week before the Oscars ceremony, DreamWorks and Paramount issued an apology to Gordy and the other Motown alumni. Gordy issued a statement shortly afterwards expressing his acceptance of the apology.

The payola scheme used in the film's script, to which Robinson took offense, is identical to the payola scheme allegedly used by Gordy and the other Motown executives, according to sworn court depositions from Motown executive Michael Lushka, offered during the litigation between the label and its chief creative team, Holland-Dozier-Holland. Several references are also made to Mafia-backed loans Curtis uses to fund Rainbow Records. Gordy was highly suspected, though never proven, to have used Mafia-backed loans to finance Motown during its later years.

Awards

  • Academy Awards
    • Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy) - Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Art Direction - Nomination
    • Costume Design - Nomination
    • Sound Mixing - Winner
    • Original Song
      • "Listen" (Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven) - Nomination
      • "Love You I Do" (Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett) - Nomination
      • "Patience" (Henry Krieger and Willie Reale) - Nomination






  • Asian Excellence Awards
    • Best Supporting Actress in a Film (Sharon Leal)- Nominated


  • BAFTA Film Awards
    • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Film Music (The Anthony Asquith Award) - Nomination


  • BET Awards
    • Best Actress (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Actor (Eddie Murphy)- Nominated
    • Best Actor (Jamie Foxx)- Nominated


  • Black Reel Awards
    • Best Film - Winner
    • Best Actor (Jamie Foxx) - Nomination
    • Best Actress (Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy) - Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Breakthrough Performance (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Original Score (Harvey Mason, Jr. & Damon Thomas) - Winner
    • Best Original Soundtrack (DreamWorks SKG/Music World/Columbia) - Winner
    • Best Song, Original or Adapted
      • "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (performed by Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
      • "Listen" (performed by Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination
      • "One Night Only" (performed by Jennifer Hudson) - Nomination


  • Broadcast Film Critics Association
    • Best Picture - Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy) - Winner
    • Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Acting Ensemble - Nomination
    • Best Director (Bill Condon)- Nomination
    • Best Song "Listen" (Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, Beyoncé Knowles)- Winner
    • Best Soundtrack - Winner


  • Golden Globe Awards
    • Best Picture: Comedy or Musical - Winner
    • Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical (Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination
    • Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Eddie Murphy) - Winner
    • Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Original Song in a Motion Picture ("Listen"; music & lyrics by Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination


  • Grammy Awards
    • Outstanding Motion Picture Soundtrack or Compilation- (Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni Rose, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Sharon Leal, Harvey Mason Jr. & Damon Thomas) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Song Written for a Motion Picture- "Love You I Do" (Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett)- Winner


  • MTV Movie Awards
    • Best Performance (Jennifer Hudson)- Nomination
    • Best Performance (Beyonce Knowles)- Nomination


  • NAACP Image Awards
    • Outstanding Motion Picture - Nomination
    • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Jamie Foxx) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Beyonce Knowles) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Danny Glover) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Eddie Murphy) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Anika Noni Rose) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Album (Dreamgirls Soundtrack) - Winner


  • Satellite Awards
    • Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical - Winner
    • Best Director (Bill Condon) - Winner', tied with Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood)
    • Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination
    • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Best Screenplay - Adapted (Bill Condon) - Nomination
    • Best Original Song
      • "Love You I Do" (Henry Krieger, Siedah Garrett) - Nomination
      • "Listen" (Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, Beyoncé Knowles) - Nomination
    • Film Editing (Virginia Katz) - Nomination
    • Sound (Editing & Mixing) (Willie Burton, Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, Richard E. Yawn) - Winner
    • Art Direction & Production Design (John Myhre, Tomas Voth, Nancy Haigh) - Nomination
    • Costume Design (Sharen Davis) - Nomination


  • Screen Actors Guild Awards
    • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nomination
    • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Hudson) - Winner
    • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Eddie Murphy) - Winner


See also



References

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