Leave it to Lifetime to dig up controversy about old relationship rumors. The network was in hot water in November when the release of the Lifetime original biopic, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B,” rubbed fans the wrong way with its oddly positive portrayal of the late singer’s marriage -- while underage -- to R. Kelly. Lifetime is at it again with Saturday’s release of “Whitney,” which, directed by Angela Bassett, profiles the late Whitney Houston’s relationship with her musician-husband Bobby Brown. However, fans watching might be more interested in the movie’s brief exploration of another relationship -- the one between Houston and comedian Eddie Murphy.
“Whitney” addresses Eddie Murphy, whom the late Houston was rumored to have dated in the late 1980s, early in the film. In a few early scenes, a few characters, including record executive Clive Davis (Mark Rolston) and best friend Robyn Crawford (Yolonda Ross), probe Houston (Yaya DaCosta) about the dating rumors, which the singer dismisses, saying the two are just friends. However, the scene fans will be talking about takes place at a ceremony where Houston receives a humanitarian award. Murphy, played by Reign Morton, appears in a pre-taped video message to Houston congratulating her in a not-so-subtly flirtatious routine in which he asks her to approach the screen so he can kiss her. In the film, the incident makes Bobby Brown (Arlen Escarpeta) jealous.
The movie, which seems to suggest a romantic history between the two icons, flies in the face of Murphy’s statements about the relationship. Murphy denied the dating rumors in 2012 during a press junket for his film “A Thousand Words.”
“I was never dating Whitney. She was a friend of mine. I may have gone to dinner with her a few times, but it was never like we were dating -- we were never boyfriend and girlfriend,” Murphy told the press. “We were very friendly acquaintances. She was a beautiful person. I hear a lot of people talking about her sense of humor, and she really did have a great sense of humor. She was a funny girl."
Is the movie making it all up? It would not come as a total surprise to fans, as Lifetime has been criticized for inaccuracies before -- the Aaliyah estate condemned “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” and prevented the singer’s music from being included in the movie. Houston’s family expressed similar disapproval of “Whitney.” Fans will have to decide for themselves what they think.
“Whitney” premiered on Lifetime Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.