The long-gestating sequel to ‘Waiting to Exhale’ is still in the works — even after the untimely death of Whitney Houston, who was an important part of the original’s ensemble cast. And as Fox 2000 Pictures chief Elizabeth Gabler sees it, “It’s almost in her honor that we think to soldier on.”

As Gabler told Billboard, “I don’t think [Houston] would want” development to stop on the ‘Exhale’ sequel, although she hastened to add that “We literally have not talked about anybody for that part.” She went on to describe ‘Exhale’ director Forest Whitaker as “just… grieving. He’d been the one who was speaking with [Houston], updating her on its progress.”

Fox started work on the follow-up soon after author Terry McMillan, who wrote the novel ‘Exhale’ was based on, published its sequel ‘Getting to Happy.’ Though Whitaker is attached to direct again, the studio doesn’t have a script yet, and there’s no word on whether the rest of the cast — which included Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Gregory Hines — has committed to return.

Houston’s final film, a remake of 1976′s ‘Sparkle,’ is slated to reach theaters in August, although rumor has it that Sony may bump up its release. “This would have been a big, big comeback, she is so brilliant in it,” executive producer Howard Rosenman told Billboard. “I was just raving about her performance, she was so great in it. I’m just in shock.”

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