As for a star, Franklin says she's "still thinking between several ladies" and is also going to take the director's list into account. "There's some people who don't have as big a name as other people, but they definitely have the fit and the ability to pull it off," she explains. But her top choice remains Halle Berry, although the Academy Award winner has expressed reservations about having to sing. "I told her, 'No, no one ever expected you to sing, Halle. I never thought of you as a singer,'" Franklin notes. In fact, she promises, the film will feature her own voice and recordings primarily.
"A lot of movies come out where it's the original artist and their songs are lip-sung to," Franklin explains. "That is how it would turn out if it's Halle. If not, if for instance it's Jennifer Hudson, she might sing one or two, but the rest would still be my original records. We're definitely going to use the original records. I may re-record some things, too."
The film is one of a number of projects Franklin is working on since recovering from unspecified surgery back in December. She's planning to hit the studio again in January to record a follow-up to this year's "Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love," for a summer 2012 release. "It'll be lots of originals and some of the best duos that I can come up with, and the best creative ideas," she promises. It will also come out on her own Aretha's Records label, which will issue an album in September by her son Eddie, who guests on "A Woman Falling Out of Love."
"I really like being on this side of the fence as well," Franklin says of the label. "It's something more but not a lot more -- nothing I can't handle. I was able to step into that posture pretty easily."
Franklin had a "wonderful" time recording "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" for Tony Bennett's upcoming "Duets II" album and plans to perform the song with him on Sept. 18 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She's anticipating a "tremendous... absolutely historical moment" when she performs at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on Aug. 28, and she's "thrilled" to be receiving the Society of Singers' Legend Award, though she won't be at the ceremony on Sept. 19 in California.
And, of course, the Queen his happy that folks are noticing how good she looks since recovering from surgery. "I'm watching my diet now, really watching it," she acknowledges. "I'm very disciplined now where my diet is concerned -- more water, more walking. I now work out three times a week, either on the track or the treadmill as well. I love food but, you know, food doesn't exactly love you when you overeat. So you've got to be more disciplined.
And, Franklin adds, her singing is benefiting from the new regimen since she returned to performing live in the spring.
"It's better for my maintenance in terms of my energy and my lasting power," she says. "I'm closing stronger, even stronger than ever. And I'm just loving it. My energy, everything is just great. The performances, the reviews, everything has been absolutely smashing. I'm having a really good time."