When Jennifer Hudson transformed into Aretha Franklin for the trailer of Respect, a biopic dedicated to the Queen of Soul, it was pretty clear that the movie would be a highly anticipated contender for 2020. But apparently, not everyone is jazzed to see the film. Kecalf Franklin, the singer's youngest son, is criticizing the MGM biopic, claiming that the production company didn't consult Franklin's immediate family, and is urging fans to boycott the film completely.
Since the singer's death from pancreatic cancer last August, there's been no shortage of content memorializing Detroit's Queen of Soul, from 2019 biography The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, An Intimate Portrait to the forthcoming Respect. But Franklin shared his disdain for both the biography and the MGM biopic in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"ONCE AGAIN….. THE FRANKLIN FAMILY (DOES NOT) SUPPORT THE MOVIE THAT IS IN PRODUCTION!!!!! NOR DO WE SUPPORT THE BOOK "THE QUEEN NEXT DOOR"!!!!!" he wrote. "NEITHER ENTITY FELT THE NEED TO CONTACT THE (CORE) FAMILY ABOUT ANYTHING!!!! HOW CAN YOU MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT A PERSON AND NOT TALK TO THE PERSONS SONS OR GRANDCHILDREN ABOUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION?"
Despite his contempt for Respect, he noted a major co-sign that his mother did approve: "(Side note: the "ONLY" person my mother was in favor of for the movie was JENNIFER HUDSON. period. Everything else is being done against our wishes.)," before signing it as "THE 'REAL' FRANKLIN FAMILY (sons and grandchildren)."
The Franklin family has been embroiled in a legal battle regarding who would gain control of the singer's estate, which is currently run by the singer's niece Sabrina Owens. David Bennett, the singer's attorney, says Franklin outrage doesn't represent the entire family's views.
"He does not speak for the family," Bennett told Detroit Free Press. "I know he doesn't speak for his brother Ted White or his brother Clarence Franklin. The grandchildren have absolutely nothing to do with this. What he's really doing is talking for himself." According to the interview, Bennett says that "at no time, to my knowledge, have (the sons) asked to participate in or be in contact with" the writers of the film.
Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Mary J. Blige, Marlon Wayans, and Tituss Burgess is scheduled to be released October 18, 2020.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE.