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Argument over who should play Aretha Franklin in biopic leads to shooting

SUFFOLK, Va. (WFLA) – Police say an argument over who should play Aretha Franklin in a movie about her life led to a shooting outside of a Virginia barbershop Thursday morning.

WTKR-TV reports that Michael Hatton, 44, was arguing with 47-year-old Tony Lundy when things escalated and turned physical. Suffolk police said Hatton pulled out a gun and shot Lundy at least once, leaving him in critical condition. 

Hatton was treated for injuries, then booked into a local jail where he’s being held without bond, police said.

He faces multiple charges, including: aggravated malicious wounding; shoot, cut, stab or wound in the commission of a felony; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony; and discharging a firearm in public with injury, police said.

A witness told the news station they overheard the two men arguing over whether actress Halle Berry should play the “Queen of Soul,” who died last week, in a movie based off Franklin’s memoir “Aretha: From These Roots.”

According to an Entertainment Weekly article from 2011, Franklin wanted Berry to play her in a biopic based on the memoir, but Berry turned down the role, saying it was because she couldn’t sing.

“I can’t sing!” Berry said. “If I could carry a tune, I’d consider it. Someone should tell Aretha that I can’t do her justice.”

Quoting music mogul Clive Davis, Billboard reported that Franklin chose Jennifer Hudson for the role and was adamant about her decision. 

“When the biopic of the great Aretha Franklin is filmed next year, the artist anointed by Aretha herself to play her is the next performer,” Davis said. “Aretha personally told me that last week.”