Everyone from bloggers to Motown Records has talked about how the Motown story was robbed in the movie version of Dreamgirls. What many do not know is the movie version is strikingly different than the legendary Broadway version. From the beginning there were complaints from Diana Ross, Motown and in early February Smokey Robinson said to Access Hollywood that Dreamgirls is filled,”with a lot of false information and negativity," and that the producers of Dreamgirls, "owe Berry Gordy a public apology ... rapidly."
This has been terrible press for Dreamgirls, especially for Oscar voters. Bad press has ruined Oscar chances from films like The Exorcist all the way to A Beautiful Mind (the old white men really didn't appreciate Russell Crow bashing someone with a telephone!). Many say in order to solidify Oscar chances for Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy the apology was paramount. Movie studio DreamWorks placed two full-page ads in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday, February 22nd, which said:
"'Dreamgirls' is a work of fiction. It is also an homage to Motown. For any confusion that has resulted from our fictional work, we apologize to Mr Gordy and all of the incredible people who were part of that great legacy. It is vital that the public understand that the real Motown story has yet to be told."
Don’t ask me why there are grammatical errors.
Gordy quickly responded with, "I applaud DreamWorks and (parent company) Paramount Pictures for doing their part to clearly differentiate the fictional movie Dreamgirls from the real Motown. I wish them all the best in the forthcoming Academy Awards."
For many the movie version of Dreamgirls was much more offensive than the Broadway version. According to people who saw the original the Broadway musical the Deena Jones character was not made out to be Diana Ross to the extent of the film. In addition, album covers were not copied and other aspects that were embarrassingly similar to the Supremes, did not occur on Broadway.
Many of this boils down to what I have been saying from the beginning—paying homage, from Motown to the original cast. So often African-Americans are lost in history, even down to Broadway—Dreamgirls changed the face of Broadway. The cast of the Chicago were treated with respect—the same people who created the movie version of Chicago also did Dreamgirls so I am deeply confused why Motown and the original cast are being treated like they are separate entities. Without Motown there would be no Broadway version of Dreamgirls and without Dreamgirls the musical there would be no movie version. It isn’t surprising the creators of Dreamgirls have issued this apology after Oscar voters have already handed in their ballots.
Tune into the Oscars this Sunday and be sure to tune into the "Countdown To The Red Carpet: The 2007 Academy Awards®," airing Sunday, February 25th from 12:00pm – 6:00pm ET/ 9:00am – 3:00pm PT" to see the original Effie Melody White, Jennifer Holliday, perform “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)”. After Sunday the Dreamgirls saga is officially over!
Speaking of apologies...I wonder if the creators of Dreamgirls will issue an apology to Beyonce for turning her into a common backup singer!