Aretha Franklin made her first televised interview since her December medical scare on Wednesday’s Wendy Williams Show. The Queen of Soul revealed she’s 85 pounds lighter, but remained tight-lipped on any diagnosis. Early rumors speculated that she had pancreatic cancer. More recent rumors have suggested that the weight loss is due to complications from gastric bypass surgery.
“A lot of things were said. I left that behind,” Franklin told Williams. “And I couldn’t be feeling any better than I’m feeling right now.”
“The pain was so hard it nearly brought me to my knees,” Franklin says. “So I said, ‘The concerts are over. I have to go and find out what is wrong.’”
She briefly discussed pain she was feeling on her side and explained she’s changed the way she eats – including avoiding foods she said are “smothered” in hot sauce. “That’s off the menu now… and no pig feet, either.”
According to one expert who spoke to Fox News, the amount of weight Franklin lost is hard to achieve with diet and exercise alone, especially when you’re 68-years-old. Williams, who’s usually good at pressing guests for details, quickly transitioned the interview to talk about Franklin’s performance at President Obama’s inauguration.
Aside from the weight loss, Williams and Franklin discussed their mutual adoration for hit Bravo reality show Real Housewives of Atlanta. “NeNe [Leakes] came to my Christmas party a year ago,” Franklin said proudly. She’s also looking forward to watching Leakes alongside Star Jones on the next season of Celebrity Apprentice.
“Didn’t you just love that take that Star did when [Nene] said, ‘Listen Ms. Star Jones. I will take you down!’”
Williams also brought up another recent controversy in Franklin’s life. Last year, she sent out a press release stating she wanted actress Halle Berry to play the lead role in an upcoming biopic based on her autobiography.
But on the Golden Globes’ red carpet, Berry rejected the request, while still showing some R-E-S-P-E-C-T: “If I could carry a tune, I’d consider it,” she says. “Someone should tell Aretha that I can’t do her justice.”
On Wednesday Franklin shot back.
“I knew she couldn’t sing. Never expected her to and she was my first choice but not my only choice… I would like to the person who is going to play me to be more confident,” Franklin explained.
Williams’ offered up a few other suggestions:
Williams: “I think Jennifer Hudson would do a bang up job playing you”
Franklin: “She has a good clear voice”
Williams: “Fantasia Barrino?”
Franklin: “Could be Fantasia, could be Jennifer…”
Williams: “Queen Latifah?”
It’s an interview worth watching, if only for this last exchange alone. I’m still trying to figure out why she was giving Queen Latifah so much shade.