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[MTV News Report]

Whitney Houston To Play "Diva" In Film Remake

Whitney Houston is in talks to play the lead role of opera singer Cynthia Hawkins in a remake of the early '80s French thriller, "Diva."

Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix in an eye-catching, quick-edit technical style, "Diva" became a cult favorite due to its fine acting, tight plot and a soundtrack which featured the London Symphony Orchestra.

According to "Variety," Will Smith's production company Overbrook Entertainment secured the remake rights earlier this week. Smith had been pursuing the project for years, but the remake rights had originally been optioned to Diana Ross.

When Ms. Ross' option expired a year and a half ago, Smith initiated talks with the film's owner, Canal Plus Image. The film will be produced co-operatively between Overbrook and Houston's Browhouse Prods. company, and screenwriter Rick Cleveland has been brought in to remake the script.

If the American remake follows the plot of the French original, then Ms. Houston will likely portray Cynthia Hawkins, an African-American opera singer who refuses to be recorded.

The action begins when an adoring fan secretly tapes a Hawkins performance and makes a bootleg for his personal enjoyment. From there, two different sets of thugs begin pursuing the nave fan for the tape, one group who thinks it contains evidence of a murder, the other who seeks to capitalise on the tape's existence.

Houston's previous film roles include "The Preacher's Wife" (1996), "Waiting to Exhale" (1995) and "The Bodyguard" (1992).

-- Lola Rephann

NEWSFILE: 2 FEBRUARY 2000


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