Friday, November 26, 2010

Florence Ballard of the Supremes to be Portrayed in Biopic by Faith Evans

Updated: 3:15 p.m. Nov. 19, 2010

R&B singer Faith Evans to star in Florence Ballard biopic

Free Press Pop Music Writer

Faith Evans is on her way to Detroit to immerse in the world of Motown.

The 37-year-old R&B star has been tapped to play singer Florence Ballard in "Blondie," a film chronicling the dramatic rise and fall of the late Supreme.

Evans will join the film's production staff today for a weekend tour of Detroit, meeting with Ballard's three adult daughters and visiting Motown sites.

The movie, a $7-million project by Atlanta's Spirit of Life Films, will begin shooting in January. Though some exterior scenes will be filmed in Detroit, principal shooting will take place in Atlanta. Producers say an accompanying soundtrack will include performances by Evans, Lauryn Hill, Fantasia and others.

Motown songs might be featured in the film, though clearances have not yet been finalized, said publicist Treavion Davenport.

The film's story pivots on the real-life experiences of Peter Benjaminson, a onetime Free Press reporter who conducted lengthy interviews with Ballard in the months before her 1976 death.

Those hours of tape became the basis for Benjaminson's 2008 book, "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard."

Ballard, nicknamed Blondie for her light hair, fell into poverty after her 1967 ouster from the Supremes and was nearly destitute when she died in Detroit of a coronary blood clot.

She is widely considered the inspiration for Jennifer Hudson's character in the movie musical "Dreamgirls," but "Blondie" producers say their film marks the first authentic historical treatment.

"We want people to understand she does have a legacy," said Davenport. "The story has been told a lot of different ways, but this one is from her perspective."

This will be the sixth acting role for Evans, a pioneering hip-hop singer and widow of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

"Faith was the ideal choice, and not just for her striking physical resemblance and vocals," said Davenport. "It's also Ms. Ballard's tribulations -- there are several parallels, and it's a story she really connects with."

Contact BRIAN McCOLLUM: 313-223-4450 or

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