Lifetime’s Whitney Houston biopic gets big ratings

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Whitney’ scores big ratings for Lifetime.

Almost all the “Whitney” viewers stayed for the subsequent hour in which Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown provided his perspective on life with the diva.Lifetime’s decision to pair its original film Whitney with the specials Bobby Brown: Remembering Whitney and Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances turned out to be a masterful plan as 11.8 million viewers tuned in throughout the night’s events.

Nielsen estimates that an average audience of roughly 4.5 million watched “Whitney” from 8 to 10 p.m., making Angela Bassett’s directorial debut the week’s most-watched cable entertainment program. Bassett, who had met Houston when they both starred in the film “Waiting to Exhale,” said she expected there would be other future films on Houston. Whitney, which was directed by Angela Bassett and starred Yaya DaCosta as the late singer Whitney Houston, attracted 4.5 million total viewers, becoming Lifetime’s most-watched telecast since Flowers in the Attic.

VH-1’s 2013 CrazySexyCool about TLC surpassed all expectations, weaving together an unflinching approach to the trio’s highs and lows and an undeniable soundtrack. In key demos, “Whitney” earned a 1.7 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 — more than doubling the top-rated broadcaster in the time period (ABC’s premiere of Adam Sandler feature film “Just Go With It” did a 0.8/3). More than 90% of the viewers stuck with Lifetime at 10 p.m. for the special “Bobby Brown: Remembering Whitney,” which averaged 4.1 million viewers. In the audience, Whitney Houston (played by America’s Top Model’s Yaya DaCosta) watched, eyes wide, mouth open, as Brown whipped open his shirt to flash his six-pack and dropped down to the floor to grind against the stage.

In fact, for the first half hour, we saw Brown as a loving, supportive, egoless, old-fashioned romantic who wanted nothing more than to make the superstar his wife. Any villainy came in the form of Clive Davis, Houston’s mentor and record label boss, who openly undermined her diet, her fashion choices and her romantic life. The secondary bad guy was Cissy, Houston’s gospel-singing mother who, on learning of her daughter’s plans to marry Bobby Brown howled.”You can take the boy out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the boy!” And, of course, we know she was right because we know about the turbulent life and times of the Houston/ Brown marriage. Over the course of three decades, the network has trained its audience to expect a weekly diet of women being menaced by bad boyfriends, unfaithful husbands, treacherous lovers, stalkers, con men, serial killers and sex traffickers. But DaCosta did an expert job in replicating Houston’s physicality, and Deborah Cox, whose voice emerged from DaCosta’s mouth, paid fitting tribute.

The biopic’s best sequence, a montage performance of I’m Every Woman, that pinballed through a dizzying array of wigs and costume changes, was also the longest Bobby Brown-free period. For these few minutes, you forgot the insanity of the story and remembered exactly why Whitney Houston was worth making a movie about in the first place.

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