Arts & Entertainment

Interview: Movie role will keep Jennifer Hudson in holiday spirit

EntertainmentMusicJennifer HudsonFootballSportsChicago BearsNewspaper and Magazine

It's a good thing Jennifer Hudson was already in the Christmas spirit Tuesday at her "A Hudson Holiday" party at the House of Blues, because the Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer will need it for the next few months.

Hudson was recently cast alongside Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett in "Black Nativity," based on Langston Hughes' gospel musical of the same name and, according to blackfilm.com, will film January through March in New York City. The film revolves around a Baltimore teenager who is sent to Harlem by his single mother, played by Hudson, to spend Christmas with grandparents he's never met.

"It's a musical and has kind of a Christmas feel to it," Hudson said. "All of those things intrigued me and made me want to be a part of it."

The Chicago native appears on the cover of this month's Michigan Avenue magazine, which co-hosted Tuesday's party and donated $10,000 to Hudson's Julian D. King Gift Foundation. The Bears' Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije also were on hand for the festivities.

Hudson next can be seen playing a Broadway diva on Season 2 of NBC's "Smash." She appeared on the big screen in April as a nun in "The Three Stooges" and filmed the indie drama "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete" over the summer.

"It has to be something I feel connected to or have a passion to do," Hudson said of her roles. "I don't believe in doing things just to do them. It has to make sense for me to do it. You have to be passionate about it."

'Tis the season: How do NFL players handle gift-giving during the holidays when each team can have as many as 53 players on its roster? "Each (position group) will do some type of Secret Santa or white elephant," said the Bears' Brandon Marshall Thursday during a private party at the Men's Journal Gear Lab Collection Pop-Up Store in the Shops at North Bridge. "You usually put a maximum and minimum (on it). And if a running back is having a great season, he'll buy the offensive line something. … (The Miami Dolphins') Reggie Bush got the offensive linemen Segways (last season). (Bears quarterback) Jay Cutler bought offensive linemen suits and Rolex watches (while he was with the Denver Broncos). One year I got my offensive linemen headphones that mold to your ears. It cost, like, $1,000 per person." Also on hand at the star-studded party was "Curb Your Enthusiasm" actor Jeff Garlin, NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, retired Cub Kerry Wood, the White Sox's Gordon Beckham and golfer Luke Donald.

About this week: Black Eyed Peas rapper Taboo will DJ Friday at John Barleycorn in Schaumburg. … Pippen will make a cameo Friday in Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" along with 7-year-old La'Ren Kimble from Make-A-Wish Illinois. … The Bears' Robbie Gould will host a "Monday Night Football" watch party for his Goulden Touch charity Monday at A.J. Hudson's Public House in the Lakeview neighborhood.

Sightings: "Friday Night Lights" actor Zach Gilford had dinner Friday at Dragon Ranch. … Former reality TV star (and Cutler's fiance) Kristin Cavallari had breakfast Dec. 2 at Tavern on Rush. … Kool and the Gang was spotted Saturday at Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse in River North. … R&B singer Miguel and NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman met Dec. 1 at Chuck's Manufacturing in the Hard Rock Hotel and opted to dine together. … NASCAR driver Danica Patrick dined Saturday at Sunda. … Marshall and Cutler hung out Tuesday at Public House and Board Room. Their Bears teammate Lance Briggs partied Friday at Board Room. Fellow Bear Matt Forte dined Dec. 3 at Bar Toma in the Gold Coast. … Pippen and Donald had dinner at Joe's Stone Crab after attending Thursday's Men's Journal party. … The Bulls' Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler dined Dec. 1 at Hub 51 following their win over the Philadelphia 76ers. … "Chicago Fire" actor David Eigenberg attended The Midwest Independent Film Festival's Best of the Midwest Awards Tuesday at The Underground.

For more celebrity news and sightings in Chicago, go to chicagotribune.com/luis

lgomez@tribune.com

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

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