President of Fox 2000 Pictures, Elizabeth Gabler, reassured fans in an interview on Monday that the Waiting to Exhale sequel would continue as planned despite the passing of singer Whitney Houston. She played the role of Savannah in the first film, based on the novel by Terry McMillan. Although there has be idle talk of possible replacements — Oprah Winfrey, for example — Gabler says, “We literally have not talked about anybody for that part. Forest, I know, is just … grieving. He’d been the one who was speaking with her, updating [Houston] on its progress.”
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Though executives are still in shock from the unexpected death of Whitney Houston, Fox isn’t letting its planned sequel to Waiting to Exhale perish with the pop icon. “I don’t think she would want it to,” Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures, said in an interview with Vulture Monday afternoon, adding, “It’s almost in her honor that we think to soldier on.”
Barely a week after author Terry McMillan published Getting to Happy in early September of 2010, Fox snapped up the feature rights to the best-selling sequel to Waiting to Exhale. After all, when Waiting to Exhale had first appeared in 1995 as the first Hollywood film to show a realistic view of the secret life of middle-class black Americans, it quickly became a phenomenon. Gabler took the picture on the road, booking its entire cast on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote it.
“This was the biggest barrier-buster for color lines,” she recalls, ”[Exhale audiences] practically tore the theater down; we couldn’t get them to leave. All these young women in their twenties and thirties wanted to stay and talk about what they’d just seen: Suburban women drinking Chablis who weren’t living in the projects or stuck in gangs.” In fact, another Fox 2000 executive who worked on Exhale, Lori Lakin, was so inspired by the film’s theme of life goals postponed that she made the leap into screenwriting herself: For the past year and a half, Lakin has spent her time working with McMillan to adapt Getting to Happy, which she balances with her current job as a writer-producer on the VH1 comedy series Single Ladies.
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