Whitney Houston’s Estate Issues Statement Criticizing Lifetime Biopic

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Whitney’ react: It’s all about Bobby.

It wasn’t the train wreck we were expecting. The legendary singer died in February 2012 from accidental drowning at the age of 48 and nearly three years on, a Lifetime biopic is being released, directed by actress Angela.There’s an excellent reason “Directed by Angela Bassett” is plastered all over the ads for Lifetime’s Whitney Houston biopic — entitled, simply, Whitney — and the reason is Aaliyah.Whitney Houston’s family says the singer’s fans should “brace themselves for the worst” if they watch Lifetime’s television movie about the late singer.Though Whitney Houston’s untimely death at age 48 was one of the biggest stories in the world, Lifetime’s new biopic about the singer, “Whitney,” doesn’t include that fact.

In an open letter on WhitneyHouston.com Pat wrote: “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.” Pat goes on: “What lifts up one person in the headlines may in fact destroy another. While the late star’s family have voiced their disapproval of the production, the 56-year-old believes she received Whitney’s blessing. “I hope she would be pleased. 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. “But to do so in such an incredible way, to go after someone who cannot correct what you get wrong, someone who – like so many people, and especially women – struggled to hold up their humanity and live with dignity despite their personal challenges, is wrong.” “Never would Whitney allow her story to be told by an inexperienced team and how naive of anyone to think otherwise, unless you’re caught up in illusions of grandeur that you can just do anything and people will accept it.

Pat Houston, president of the singer’s estate and her sister-in-law, issued a critical statement about the movie on Houston’s website on the eve of the movie’s airing. So Houston fans Ariana Bacle and Erika Berlin watched the Lifetime movie ahead of its Saturday premiere to see just how worthy of the anticipation it is.

I certainly felt her presence every day in the making of it,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “As I’m driving to work, trying to make it to that production office, I’ve got the radio on and her song comes on, and so, on this one particular day, I’m rolling down 134 and a big bus passes me. Read their discussion: ARIANA: So I should start by saying my expectations for this were very, very low: Between the combination of being on Lifetime and being about a woman who died just two years ago, I was convinced the movie would be an offensive and exploitative look at the darker parts of Houston’s life. This time we’re bringing in an Oscar-nominated Hollywood leading lady who starred in Waiting To Exhale — you remember, the movie where Whitney sang that ‘Shoop Shoop’ song. Though “Whitney” (airing Saturday night on Lifetime) does address Houston’s problems with addiction, the film ends years before she passes away. After a series of made-for-TV films that ranged from seedy and preposterous (The Brittany Murphy Story) to out of its damned mind (House of Versace) to, even worse, embarrassingly bland (Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B), the expectation was that Whitney would be Lifetime’s crowning achievement in campy biopic garbage-pile fabulousness.

The public heard about their tortured relationship – involving domestic abuse and drug addiction – but Bassett says it’s important to remember that it started much differently. “Our story is only five years,” Bassett said, talking about the time span of the movie, which starts in 1989 when Houston and Brown meet at the Soul Train Awards. Lots of those.” Whitney tells the Bobby Brown side of the story, rather than her mama Cissy Houston’s side, already detailed in the heartfelt 2013 memoir Remembering Whitney. (Best line: “As much as I love my daughter, Nippy was no angel. Bassett cited the fact that there’s only so much you can show in a two-hour (84 minutes of actual footage) TV movie, but mostly, it would be too difficult for the audience to see again. “We get an inkling.

Much screen time is given to Houston’s childhood friend and longtime assistant Robyn Crawford—a woman who Houston was rumored to have a lesbian affair with. She doesn’t appreciate the criticism when people say you can’t make a biopic on someone you don’t know. “Listen, I live with my husband and don’t know everything about him and his every private thought! She was a runner-up on Season Three of America’s Top Model, which might explain why she does so much smizing in her version of “I’m Every Woman.” She’s almost too animated to play Whitney — she’s a much better dancer, though you can tell she’s making an effort to hold back. We know it, and I think it would only break our hearts again, you know?” Bassett said. “And we don’t need that.” How did she stay so positive?

The actual singing is by Deborah Cox, the Nineties R&B diva fondly remembered for “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” which ruled the radio the same winter as Whitney’s “Heartbreak Hotel” and will always reduce me to a puddle of slush. Bassett or no Bassett, Whitney is still a cheese-intensive Lifetime melodrama, using all the tricks of the trade: a young woman with big dreams, a man who fails her, family disapproval, career pressure, motherhood, lies, tears, long talks with Babyface. Bassett recalls Brown visiting the set and he was “delightful, warm and respectful” to everyone he met. “Of course we all have these ideas and preconception,” Bassett said, adding she felt that was the man who Houston fell in love with. “But it was right there he made quite a warm and loving first impression in person.” Using that feeling as inspiration, Bassett was able to zero in on the happier times in their relationship, including the birth of their daughter Bobbi Kristina. Though some drug use and infidelity is included (and there is one scene where Brown physically grabs Houston), mostly, they’re just in love over a happier time in their careers, when Houston is on top of the world with the international success of “The Bodyguard.” “I think just this five years, maybe we see who they were, what it was and in a really great world.

Obviously he was going to be a major factor in this movie—they’d stated ahead of time that this was to be a love story about their early years together, and I’m fine with movies that are snapshots of a period of a few years. Whitney is transfixed by seeing Bobby sing “Every Little Step.” They flirt backstage, joking about how she didn’t win any awards. (“I’m happy for my girl Anita” — sure you are, Whitney). They’re young, they’re in love, they’re star-crossed lovers, they fight loudly and make up passionately, and then… they stay together for another decade post-movie?

Also, speaking of Bobby having all the screen time, I don’t believe this film—which is about a powerful, adored, strong woman—even passes the Bechdel Test! It chronicles her torture as she was pulled out of the domestic life and motherhood she wanted and forced back on tour after giving birth in order to strike when the iron’s hot.

DaCosta sells every bead of drug-addled flop sweat in Houston’s big breakdowns, and is suitably heartbreaking playing the desperation, shock, and despair as Bobby Brown’s extra-marital dalliances come to light. Perhaps having the smugness slapped out of her by Oprah Winfrey in The Butler had the residual effect of loosening the talented, but typically constricted, actress up. Not like Bobby Brown would!” Mark Rolston needs to play all schmoozy record-label bosses in Lifetime movies from now on. (He was a sleazy detective on The Shield as well as a white supremacist in Lethal Weapon 2.) “How’s my favorite staaaaah?” Clive gushes as Whitney struts into his office in a yellow power suit. Though DaCosta doesn’t do her own singing in the film, she undulates through a young Whitney Houston’s brittle emotions with the same mix of wanton recklessness and studied control the singer herself puts into her vocal runs. And stay away from yellow — it makes you look like a canary.” Whitney and Bobby attend a banquet honoring her contributions to the United Negro College Fund, but Mr.

She was so incredibly charming that one of my first thoughts upon finishing the movie was, “Where can I watch her season of America’s Next Top Model?” Girl can act, and girl can lip-synch. Lifetime only obtained the rights to a handful of Houston classics—don’t worry, “I Will Always Love You” is one—and it’s when performing them that DaCosta’s performance really comes alive. She nails that wily, sassy side-eyed gaze Whitney always gave when she was singing, and gets in the groove of her signature shoulder pops and shoop-shoop slide-y neck moves. As our girl once sang, “When the night falls, loneliness calls.” Whit lounges in her pajamas, eating cold spaghetti while she recites the dialogue out loud along with her favorite movie.

It’s the dressing-room scene where the mother confronts Lonette McKee about her no-account thug boyfriend: “Baby, he’s just gonna drag you to the gutter with him.” Foreshadowing! You brought up the miscarriage scene, and I hated not only that it got turned into a scolding about Bobby but also that Bobby literally swooped in and saved the day, in a way. Her mama’s immediate reaction: “I hope it’s not Bobby Brown.” Cissy, for some reason, is not 100 per cent overjoyed at the idea of her little Nippy marrying the artist who’s about to release “Humpin’ Around.” Yet it’s all blamed on Cissy’s snobbery, as she scoffs, “You can take the boy out the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out the boy.” (Cissy is the fantastic Suzanne Douglas, who played one of Bassett’s girlfriends in How Stella Got Her Groove Back.) Suffering from career decline and writer’s block, Bobby sits at the piano crumpling up pieces of paper (as you do). Later on in the movie, they’re snorting coke together and eventually, he ends up in rehab because it’s gotten so bad while she stays at home and scolds him for telling their secrets in group therapy.

She mimes them like she’s in her childhood bedroom, the boombox is cranked up full blast, and she’s looking at herself in the mirror while mouthing the words to “I’m Your Baby Tonight” with all the conviction of Whitney Houston performing on the Grammy stage. Not mentioned in this movie: Mariah Carey, Oprah, Aretha, Dolly Parton, Kevin Costner, Silver Spoons, the Being Bobby Brown reality series, the rest of New Edition, Whitney’s best hit (“How Will I Know?”) or Whitney’s best album (My Love Is Your Love). I was more okay with there being no resolution at the end though, because I thought it was fitting to conclude the movie with her singing—just her, thank goodness—and already had enough problems with the timeline throughout the film that I feel like skipping ahead to their relationship’s end would have only made it worse. So often biopics feel the need to cover a years-long span of a person’s life, but doing that loses the details of that person’s life that make it interesting to begin with. Not only is he painted as the compassionate, misunderstood boy from the hood who is just trying to do good by his family, but all of the sweetest tidbits from the movie were about him!

We saw how Bobby “sacrificed” for their relationship, but not her (unless you count her tearfully telling him that her choosing to be with him was the first thing she’d ever done for herself). And I wanted an operatically trashy and creatively questionable movie about Whitney Houston that I could laugh off and even appreciate as ridiculous camp. The other scene that gave me pause was when Whitney was rocking her newborn, Bobbi Kristina, and singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Everyone knows Whitney’s roots were in her gospel church, and she probably sang that song 10 times a week. What if they took those lyrics to heart and realized they weren’t in a healthy relationship, and that even though there was love there, they were slowly destroying each other? Even if Bobby wasn’t the one who introduced her to drugs, the two of them together didn’t foster an environment that would allow for a wholesome recovery for either.

But it feels so wrong to root for them when we know how much more there is to the story, and when—as we’ve established—the bias in favor of Bobby in this film is so obvious. This is the movie you watch if you’re okay with a simplified, romanticized look at what some would consider a disastrous relationship and not if you want to relive Whitney’s heyday or learn more about the legendary singer—until someone else makes a movie more Whitney-focused and less Bobby-centric, YouTube will probably be the best option for that.

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