Whitney Houston’s Family Slams Lifetime, Angela Bassett Over Unauthorized …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Whitney’ recap: The legend of Saint Bobby.

While Lifetime’s Whitney Houston biopic was packed with many hell-to-the-yes moments, not everyone was happy to see a skewed version of the singer’s life story on the small screen. Making an earnest attempt to live up to that challenge, the Lifetime network, saddled as it is by a history of hilariously atrocious treatments of celebrity lives (like Liz and Dick) seems to have made a solid choice in putting Houston’s Waiting to Exhale co-star Angela Bassett at the helm.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.

Perhaps no one was more upset about Whitney than Houston’s own family, who shared a long statement criticizing the unauthorized biopic on the singer’s official site. In her directorial debut, Bassett–no stranger to tumultuous singers’ lives, having earned an Oscar nomination as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It–does a commendable job squishing Houston’s lifetime of bad choices, career highs and personal lows into just two hours. 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. The statement, penned by Houston’s sister-in-law Pat Houston, slams Lifetime and director Angela Bassett for airing a subpar quality movie based on Houston’s life from the perspective of ex-husband Bobby Brown. “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 Houston writes, referring to similar films about Aaliyah, Brittany Murphy and Saved By the Bell. “You should not be surprised that someone decided to do a made for TV biopic. 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.

The costume designer, Mona May, was on-point with the lace-and-leather ensembles, sequined gowns, and retro looks that captured the era (find out more about May’s work here). 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. 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. I share with you the thoughts I shared with my daughter yesterday – that there is often a fine line that separates elevation and degradation in the industry.

Whitney—a half-open window into the period of Houston’s life from when she meets Bobby Brown to when “I Will Always Love You” turned her into a bigger star than anyone could ever imagine—is painfully straightforward. Before she walks away, leaving him wanting more, she says, “As of tonight, I’m a Bobby Brown fan,” and then he’s all, “I’m gonna ask you out,” and America collectively sighs. 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. 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.

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. It might have more aptly been named “Whitney and Bobby.” Naturally, their story begins when Whitney falls madly in love with Bobby at the Soul Train awards in 1989, despite the fact that he yelled at her for kicking his chair. 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.

We have dealt with her every emotion from the day she was born until the day she died, which gives us absolute position and absolute authority as a family to feel the way we do about her legacy. 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.

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! 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. Clive, wearing a pair of tangerine glasses, drills Whitney about ordering cheeseburgers and presumably dating Eddie Murphy, which is such an early 1990s conversation to have.

As we once again enter a season of bereavement and the strategic timing so close to the anniversary of Whitney’s death, this is a disappointment that any of us who loved her could do without. Then, a shirtless Bobby gets a heck of a mail delivery: A check for over $24,000,000 and an invitation to Whitney’s 25th birthday party. (Note to self: find mail key.) He puts a shirt on for the occasion.

On their next date, Whitney and Bobby talk about their childhood and his kids, but that date jumps to the bedroom, and y’all—the sex scenes are raunchy. At the party, Whitney offers Bobby some cocaine, but he tsks tsks tsks and says he doesn’t do such things because he’s “seen too many bad outcomes.” (Did you feel that foreshadowing there?) Whitney takes him to her studio and he continues to play the straight man to her party girl, but it’s their shared love of Sparkle that really brings them together. 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). Then Bobby tells her, “I used to think that you were some kind of goddess, but you’re way more than that: you’re real,” and you can practically see her heart go pitter-pat over that malarkey, because girls are silly like that.

At Clive Davis’s office, the orange spectacle wearing music impresario tells her not to date Eddie Murphy or wear yellow (wisdom to live by), and hooks her up with his new-hire LA Reid, who is already working with Bobby Brown. Cut to another ballroom where Whitney is getting an award and a really poorly cast Eddie Murphy stand-in is presenting her with said award in a lascivious manner via a remote video link from the set of Another 48 Hours, and Bobby is not having it. But misrepresenting the term friendship to advance an agenda is not only disrespectful and dishonest but a slap in the face to her true and loyal friends.

He gives Whitney a hard time in the limo ride home, but she is able to tease him out of his bad mood. (Yes, that is foreshadowing you hear.) They make up in the bedroom, but their detente is temporary. 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. Equally tragic is the way it portrays the carnal attraction between Houston and Brown, shedding light on why Houston was never able to free herself from his destructive shackles—and the way their toxic relationship enabled her addictions. 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. The invitation helpfully reads, “You Are Cordially Invited to Whitney Houston’s 26th Birthday Party.” Whitney lures Bobby upstairs, casually snorting fistfuls of blow as she walks him through her private trophy room, with a piano and gold records all over the walls. (Jesus, that is some un-Whit-worthy wood paneling.) He looks into her eyes and charms her with his patented Bobby Brown sweet-talk: “Up close, you are so friggin’ beautiful.” Before you know it, they’re bonding over her VHS tape of the Seventies girl-group movie Sparkle. (“Irene Cara, she was something!” “Wasn’t she?”) When Whitney confesses that she tends to scare men away, he replies, “Maybe they just don’t know how to handle you.

Whitney heads to the studio with a new hairstyle and a new tune, “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” but it’s the same old song: She grills everyone for details about Bobby Brown. 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.

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. 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. 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.

In the spirit of Whitney’s ‘I Go To The Rock’: ‘On Christ the solid rock I stand… all other ground is sinking sand.’ Let’s just be peaceful in all of this. 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!

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). 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). He stops to get a drink and comes home to find Whitney singing, “Jesus Loves Me” to Bobbi Kristina, and all those Bodyguard memories come flooding back.

BROWN.” It’s okay though because they go backstage, do a couple bumps of cocaine (together!), and launch into the best music montage thus far in the movie—”I’m Every Woman” Whitney is so on point that your head will spin. There is a world of Whitney Houston fans out there just clamoring for the movie about her life that is going to do her dramatic life, wrenching death, and incomparable legacy justice. And I wanted an operatically trashy and creatively questionable movie about Whitney Houston that I could laugh off and even appreciate as ridiculous camp. When it turns out the meeting is all about Whitney, Bobby heads straight to a bar and orders a vodka with a side of bitterness and a dollop of regret.

It’s a rush of room changes, costume changes, new hairstyles, Bobby feeling back-burnered, and Whitney doing cocaine to get through it all while “I’m Every Woman” plays. He’s angry that he’s not as popular as his wife and that he has to turn down groupies who then subject him to groupie trash talk (“Who are you now?

They both drink heavily and then smoke pot in the hotel room even though everyone who watches Lifetime knows it’s a gateway drug and soon Bobby will be doing crack in the bathroom. He then says, “How can you stop when the person you love is just as bad as you are?” Bobby’s comments get leaked to the press and Whitney accuses him of trying to ruin her.

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