Terry McMillan isn’t sure how to continue with the sequel to Waiting to Exhale, now that Whitney Houston has passed away.
Plans for the film followup, Getting to Happy, were announced last year. Since, Whitney’s untimely death, many have wondered about the status of the project. While Loretta Devine and Angela Bassett have spoken about the sequel, Waiting to Exhale author Terry McMillan has been fairly quiet.
Whitney played Savannah in Waiting to Exhale, and Terry told the Huffington Post that she’s not sure what to do with the character now that Whitney is gone.
“Myself and [screenwriter] Lori Lakin Hutcherson wrote drafts for the film and then Whitney passed away and so now the studio is trying to take a moment to think about how best to proceed," said Terry, who confirmed that Getting to Happy will still hit theaters either way. "They’ve made it crystal clear that they want to proceed, but it’s just a matter of how. I have mixed feelings about which way might be best to tell the story."
While some feel that the part should be recast to stay true to the book, others feel that the Savannah character should be excluded from Getting to Happy. Meanwhile, still others have suggested that the character be written out of the movie by having to relocate for a job.
That doesn’t seem like an option for Terry. "Right now I’m not in a position to be an advocate one way or the other, with the exception of the fact that it’s hard to imagine the story without the Savannah character in it," she said.
That means that Savannah would almost certainly have to be recast, but Terry wants it to be clear that it would be a strictly creative move.
"I feel terrible about Whitney, just like everybody else, but there’s a part of me that also feels that she would want the film to go on. That’s just my gut feeling," Terry explained. "And it has nothing to do with me not having an allegiance to her or respect for her. I just have a feeling that Whitney would love from Heaven, to sit up there and watch who else can do the character.”
So who could take on the role of Savannah? Terry said that some have suggested replacing Whitney with Oprah Winfrey. She’s not opposed to the idea, but she’s not sure it would work out with O’s busy schedule.
"When she would possibly have the time? Who knows. But I haven’t thought that far, because again, I am not a casting director. That is not my area," said Terry, who then threw out another A-list name. "I also love Viola Davis, but we’re not there yet. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that Whitney is no longer here with us.”