Many films have undergone reboots in recent years, but Sparkle, an update of the 1976 musical starring Irene Cara, has reasserted itself as a genuine star vehicle. The film, directed by Salim Akil, marks the debut acting performance of American Idol winner and recording artist Jordin Sparks, and the last onscreen performance of the late Whitney Houston.
Set in 1960s Detroit, at the height of Motown, Sparkle follows the struggles of three sisters' path to musical stardom, with all the twists, turns, and temptations that come with it, and features Carmen Ejogo, Mike Epps, and Cee-Lo Green rounding out the ensemble cast. Houston plays the matriarch of the family in a tremendous performance, and last night's Cinema Society screening at the Tribeca Grand Hotel served as an occasion for guests to celebrate Houston's legacy.
Producer Debra Martin Chase, clad in a vivacious tangerine Versace, said of Houston, "She loved the role, she took it very seriously."
Tika Sumpter, looking like liquid gold in a slinky Bill Blass gown and Valentino heels, reflected, "She made us feel like a family, from the very beginning. Working with Whitney was absolutely extraordinary. I will never forget that moment in my life. I'll be able to tell my future children that all the experiences I've had, and the personal ones that I keep to myself, I'll always be able to tell them about this moment," And, in keeping with the spirit of the night, her favorite Motown group? "Oh my god! Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. My favorite! Ever!"
Interview spoke with 12-year-old up-and-comer Isaiah Pittman, who recently signed with super-manager Johnny Wright and performed for President Obama, and who was giddy to be at his first premiere. "My favorite Motown group would be the Jacksons," Pittman said. "But I really like Whitney Houston too. Her song ‘I'm Your Baby Tonight,' it's one of my all-time favorites. When she passed, I was heartbroken, but I'm really looking forward to seeing her again."
A crush of press and photographers followed Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones, back in New York from winning two silvers and a gold in London. Also in attendance were Gabourey Sidibe, Stephen Baldwin, Russell Simmons, Rufus Wainwright, Rutina Wesley, Salman Rushdie, Erin O'Connor, Jaime Cepero, Sami Gayle, Hinton Battle, Anthony Edwards, S. Epatha Merkerson, Stacey Bendet Eisner, and US Women's Gymnastic Team members McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and Kyla Ross.
After the film, the party moved a few blocks uptown to the Yard at the SoHo Grand Hotel, where revelers sipped on cocktails courtesy of Alizé.—Colleen Kelsey