Maybe Usher Raymond thought that Grammy on his mantel was an Oscar. We hear that the R&B smoothie was dumped from the upcoming Motown musical Dreamgirls after studio execs found themselves “caught up” in the thespian-in-training’s outsize contract demands.
Sources close to the film, an adaptation of the Broadway show based on The Supremes, say negotiations between Usher’s camp and Dreamworks fell apart when the chart-topping singer pushed for A-list compensation, despite his relative lack of big-screen experience. (Usher’s last multiplex appearance, as a supporting player to James Van Der Beek in the 2001 western Texas Rangers, was unburdened by critical accolades.)
“Things just went really bad trying to negotiate terms with Usher’s management,” one production insider tells us. “They were trying to bring their crazy music industry demands to Hollywood, and that didn’t work for us.”
Since Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy are already attached to the project, we hear the film’s producers decided they could live without the do-ragged diva. Instead, our source says, they moved down the steadily growing list of Hollywood-ready hip-hop artists for a replacement, considering Four Brothers star Tyrese Gibson before ultimately choosing B2K singer Omarian Grandberry, who recently had roles in Fat Albert and You Got Served.
Usher may already be regretting his not-so-slick negotiating moves, however.Early buzz on the singer’s other upcoming film Dying for Dolly is less thanstellar. “It’s really, really bad,” said a source who saw an advancescreening of the mobster love story, which co-stars Chazz Palminteri,Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Kevin Hart.
Asked about Usher’s Dreamgirls derailment, his publicist Simone Smalls insists her client was “never set to do [the movie] and has not signed on”—despite numerous reports to the contrary on IMDB and elsewhere. “As far as his ‘record label demands,’” Smalls added, “that’s not something Usher does. Making record label demands, I don’t know what that is.”
Publicists for Omarion and Dreamworks did not return calls for comment.