This film was originally proposed in the mid-'70s, starring Diana Ross and Steve McQueen, but was rejected as "too controversial". The film concept was to be attempted again in the late 1970s, with Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross cast as the leads. The project fell through after only a few months because of irreconcilable differences between O'Neal and Ross, who had been dating.
Kevin Costner's character is shown having attended West Virginia University (WVU). The movie was written by Lawrence Kasdan who graduated from high school in Morgantown WV, the same city where WVU is located.
Kevin Costner, during his eulogy at Whitney Houston's Feb. 18, 2012 funeral, related that when Whitney auditioned for her role, her makeup had begun running down her face. Before the audition, Whitney had hurriedly removed her movie-set makeup and had instead applied her regular show-business makeup she used at concerts so she would feel more normal. The heat of the lighting for her audition caused the replacement makeup to run. Kevin quickly halted the audition; Whitney returned to her trailer where she related what had happened to Kevin. The movie makeup was re-applied, and the audition was then successfully completed.
The camera operator riding the dolly rail during the airplane scene where the camera revolves around actors Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston fell off when the centripetal force surprised him while shooting the scene. The cameraman climbed back onto the rigging during filming to retain operation, finishing the scene, which was kept in the movie.
At the fictional Academy Awards ceremony, the Best Sound Oscar goes to Mychal Smith and Kay Colvin (who were in reality the Boom Operator and Cable Person respectively), the Best Song winner is written by Nancy Garber (who was really the film's Art Department Researcher) and one of the fictional nominated songwriters was Leslie Moraes (who was really the film's Assistant Location Manager).
One of the few films that presented a fictional Academy Awards in its plot and later on were nominated for the actual Academy Awards. While this movie scored two Best Song nominations, the other movie with similar circumstances, _California Suite (1978) managed to win an Oscar (acting category, an ironic contrast with the movie's subplot involving an actress who loses the same award).