On Saturday, Lifetime presents its next big television event, “Whitney,” the much-anticipated biopic about singer Whitney Houston and her rocky relationship with musician-husband Bobby Brown. Will it please fans -- or be the next “Aaliyah”?
The movie certainly has some star power behind it, including direction by actress Angela Bassett. Bassett has experience with biopics featuring tumultuous musical relationships, having starred as Tina Turner in 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” Yaya DaCosta stars in Bassett's flick as Houston, while Arlen Escarpeta portrays Brown. However, despite Bassett’s big name and experience, the estate of the late Houston was not supportive of the production.
Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, expressed disapproval in July.
“Lifetime has chosen to go ahead with the movie about Whitney in spite of my family's objections. No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with Bobby,” Houston told "Entertainment Tonight." “In the two years since Whitney's death, many people have stepped forward to speak about their close relationship with her. I find it difficult to believe people who knew and supposedly loved her would participate in a movie about her done by folks who didn't know her. We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please, please let her rest.”
The family disapproval echoes similar concerns expressed by the estate of R&B star Aaliyah. In November, Lifetime aired a biopic about the late singer, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.” It was met with intense criticism from critics and fans on social media for its oddly positive take on her underage marriage to R. Kelly, among other disputed aspects of her life. The family prevented Lifetime from using the singer’s music in the film, and the controversy caused the original actress set to play Aaliyah, Zendaya Coleman, to drop out.
Angela Bassett has defended her movie about Houston, noting her personal relationship with the singer and her own experience with fame.
“I did spend a little time with her, but to know her intimately, intimately — I mean, who does but the person and the Lord they serve? Who knows a person?” Bassett told HuffPost Live. “But I know a little about being in the spotlight, a little about celebrity and its demands, a little about trying to find a mate and the support that’s needed in your industry; mine being acting, hers the music industry. I know about being a woman, about being a black woman that came up in a little hometown and yet you are able to become a success because of this God-given gift of talent. So I know a little bit about what it might have been like.”
Production on “Whitney” certainly went more smoothly than it did on the Aaliyah film, with no actress dropouts or music licensing issues. However, the criticism of Lifetime remains. Will the film be another “Aaliyah”? Fans will have to decide for themselves. “Whitney” premieres Saturday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime.
Watch the trailer for "Whitney" below:
Will “Whitney" be another “Aaliyah”? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.