TV Ratings: Lifetime’s ‘Whitney’ Pulls 4.5 Million Viewers

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Film: A TV biopic about Whitney Houston’s life has been criticised by her family (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns).

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. Pat Houston delivered a scathing open letter to Angela – a former friend of the singer – and Lifetime TV for making the movie about her life, calling it an ‘assault on her legacy’. ‘I say this to all Whitney’s family, friends and fan base: If you watch this movie, watch it knowing that Lifetime is notorious for making bad biopics of deceased celebrities and brace yourself for the worst,’ she wrote on WhitneyHouston.com During the blistering attack, Pat revealed she only heard about the movie the day a few days before it aired through her daughter, and called Angela’s choice to direct the film ‘unloving’ – especially as next month will be the third anniversary of Whitney’s death. ‘My daughter came home from high school yesterday and shared with me inquiries she had endured from her peers and teachers about the upcoming TV movie about her aunt Whitney. ‘She was somewhat exasperated and said she did not get it – that a woman who claimed to be her aunt’s friend would direct a movie that seems so unloving towards her Aunt, and how it could affect her cousin Krissi.’ She continued: ‘What lifts up one person in the headlines may in fact destroy another.Following the January 17th premiere of the made for TV movie ‘Whitney’, Pat Houston, the late singer’s sister-in-law and President of The Whitney Houston Estate, issued a pretty lengthy statement on Houston’s official website condemning the project. It’s also Lifetime’s most-watched telecast since 6.06 million watched the premiere of “Flowers in the Attic” on the comparable Saturday one year ago.

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. I don’t think it ever entered their minds that they were assaulting the legacy of another individual; they just want the job or the opportunity to shine. In the statement, Pat revealed that the movie was released without the permission of the Houston family, and that the project’s director Angela Bassett was “disrespectful,” “dishonest” and “gave a slap in the face to [Houston’s] true and loyal friends.” According to Pat, Bassett used her supposed former friendship with the ‘I Will Always Love You’ singer to get the film made, without the blessing or assistance of those closest to the legendary star. Marking Bassett’s directorial debut, Whitney entertained 4.5 million Total Viewers, becoming the network’s most-watched telecast across all key demographics since FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC last January.

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). In the 8:00pm time period, the film, starring Yaya DaCosta in the lead role and Arlen Escarpeta as Bobby Brown, also averaged 2.2 million Adults 25-54, 2.1 million Adults 18-49, 1.6 million Women 18-49 and 1.6 million Women 25-54.

Now Lifetime, the female-targeted network responsible for the film, took steps to redeem themselves with Whitney, about the late singer Whitney Houston. 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.

And at 11 p.m., the special “Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances,” hosted by Houston’s longtime mentor and creative partner Clive Davis, drew 3.2 million viewers. Whitney also struck a chord among social media, where it was the most tweeted-about program for the day and Lifetime’s second most tweeted-about program ever (source: Nielsen, 1/17/15).

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. Lifetime will encore an event block this evening, starting with Whitney at 8:00pm ET/PT, BOBBY BROWN: REMEMBERING WHITNEY at 10:00pm and the special Beyond the Headlines: Whitney Houston at 11:00pm. Whitney chronicles the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model Whitney Houston and singer and songwriter Bobby Brown from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity to their courtship and tumultuous marriage. Throughout it all, difficulties followed the superstar couple while they dealt with the overwhelming rewards and consequences of the fame and fortune created by Houston’s meteoric rise that would soon overshadow them both. When, in the early days of their courtship, she started hoovering up white lines and inviting him to join, he demurred, “I don’t do that,” preferring to regale her with inspirational tales of buying his mama a house and his pledge to be a responsible father to his daughters.

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. Lifetime is a premier female-focused entertainment destination dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning scripted series, non-fiction series and movies. 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. As a result of the network’s aggressive programming strategy that has doubled the hours of its original programming, in 2014 the network reached its strongest ranking among the key Women 18-49 demo in six years and its youngest median age in 18 years.

Lifetime Television®, LMN®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. 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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