The Real Reason Aretha Franklin’s Son Isn’t Happy With Jennifer Hudson Movie Depicting His Late Mother

One of Aretha Franklin’s sons, Kecalf Franklin (also known as Kecalf Cunningham), took to Facebook this week to express his disdain for the new biographical movie about his mother’s life. Kecalf, the youngest of Aretha’s four sons, did not hold back in explaining his dissatisfaction.

Aretha Frankin
Aretha Frankin | Fred A. Sabine/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Find out why the late legend’s son feels as he does, how Aretha felt about the movie, and more.

Aretha Franklin handpicked Jennifer Hudson to play her in the film

Producer Harvey Mason Jr. spent countless hours with Aretha discussing Respect, the movie about her life, as well as about the stories and music that she felt needed to be included. According to The Detroit Free Press, Mason was speaking with the Queen of Soul about the film right up to a week before her passing.

“They both sing with a lot of emotion,” Mason, a producer for the film said of Aretha and Hudson. “They both sing with a lot of range and power. . . There was a lot of discussion about a lot of people, but Aretha was adamant that it be Jennifer.”

Mason estimated that he spoke with Aretha in an estimated 100 phone calls, discussing the film’s stories and songs, in great detail.

“My duty is to do something that really honors Aretha and treats her in the manner I have been accustomed to dealing with her. I have a good feel for what she likes and doesn’t like. My whole goal is to do something … her fans would be proud of and something that stands up to her legacy.”

The film is set to hit theaters later this year

Due to premiere in October 2020, Respect will follow the musical icon’s life from her days singing gospel music in her father’s church to the extraordinary musical success she became and into her days as a feminist and activist.

In addition to Jennifer Hudson in the lead role as Aretha, the film also will feature Forest Whitaker as Aretha’s father CL Franklin, Marlon Wayans as her husband Ted White, Audra MacDonald as her mother Barbara, and Mary J. Blige as singer Dinah Washington.

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Veteran screenwriter Liesl Tommy, who has directed episodes of Queen SugarDietlandInsecureThe Walking Dead, and Jessica Jones, will be debuting as a feature film director with Respect.

“As a filmmaker, there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, [screenplay writer] Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers,” Tommy told Variety in 2019.

The reason Kecalf is unhappy with ‘Respect’

Aretha’s son, Kecalf, for his part, is not at all satisfied with the way the movie is being made, completely, according to him, without any input from anyone in Aretha’s family. Kecalf feels it is impossible to make an accurate biographical film about his late mother without feedback or commentary from those who knew her best.

He expressed his frustration and disappointment on Facebook this week, flat out calling for a full boycott of the film, making it clear he and his family do not support the film.

“ONCE AGAIN….. THE FRANKLIN FAMILY (DOES NOT) SUPPORT THE MOVIE THAT IS IN PRODUCTION!!!!!” his Facebook post read. “NOR DO WE SUPPORT THE BOOK ‘THE QUEEN NEXT DOOR’!!!!! NEITHER ENTITY FELT THE NEED TO CONTACT THE (CORE) FAMILY ABOUT ANYTHING!!!!”

Kecalf, a Christian rap artist, continued, “HOW CAN YOU MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT A PERSON AND NOT TALK TO THE PERSONS SONS OR GRANDCHILDREN ABOUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION? HOW CAN YOU PUT A PERSONS FAMILY (IMAGE) IN A BOOK AND NOT ASK PERMISSION? IF YOU ARE A “REAL” FAN OF MY MOTHERS….PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THIS. ASK YOURSELF….WOULD YOU WANT THIS DONE TO YOU? [T]he “ONLY” person my mother was in favor of for the movie was JENNIFER HUDSON. period. Everything else is being done against our wishes.”

It remains to be seen if the filmmakers will reach some sort of conciliatory agreement with the Franklin family or if Hudson’s performance, in the end, will win them over.