Angela Basset's Whitney should have never aired

By  | Dec 06, 2018, 01:46 AM

Shame on you Angela Bassett! This movie should have been a life story, beginning to end, from the womb to the tomb.

Bassett is no stranger to biopics about female singers. She portrayed Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (where she did a good job by the way). So it was disappointing watching her take on a diva like Whitney Houston.

Firstly, I could google more information on Whitney than what was in that movie. Whitney was one of the first black women on the cover of Seventeen; one of the first whose videos saw regular rotation on MTV at a time when the network faced mounting criticism for snubbing minorities; one of the first major performers to play post-apartheid South Africa. The list goes on.

It was thin, lacked any real content worth discussing around the dinner table and I could not connect Yaya DaCosta as Whitney. There was something about her weak character that had me constantly asking "Is this the only person they could find to play a diva?". It is like how South Africans get emotional every time we see a foreigner play Nelson Mandela.

Yaya was a runner-up on Season Three of America's Top Model. Sorry Yaya, stick to modelling.

In my opinion, Angela, Whitney’s Waiting to Exhale co-star used her friendship with the singer as license to give the project legitimacy. 

If I compare this to Dream Girls or Cadillac Records, Whitney does not deserve a repeat on any channel. The entire cast was not suited for the characters they played. I found myself constantly trying to figure out whether Angela actually ever looked at BabyFace (played by Wesley Jonathan) or Cissy Houston (played by Suzzanne Douglas).

In a nutshell, what was the story about? "Chronicles Whitney Houston's rise to fame and turbulent relationship with husband Bobby Brown."

Did we see this? No.

Whitney's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown expressed interest in portraying her mother in the biopic. 

When asked in an interview with Entertainment Weekly whether Angela considered casting Bobbi she said: "No, I did not think about that. I did not think about casting her. And probably for a number of reasons, you know. One being that she's not an actress. I know she's acted here and there. I know she's been on their family's reality show, but she's not an actress and acting is a craft."

 

Then my next issue with the movie: With all the stories we have read over the years of the turbulent relationship with then husband Bobby, this movie made Bobby look like God's gift to woman and Whitney looked like a confused, spoilt little girl with a serious drug addiction. What we saw was a movie from the perspective of Bobby.

As an aside, in the scene where Bobby proposed to Whitney, that scene was not accurate. The movie shows Bobby proposing to Whitney  in a house, but actually Bobby proposed to Whitney in a car.

In Angela’s movie, Bobby is the innocent victim corrupted by Whitney's party habits. She's the one who lures him into drugs, snorting up a storm while he clutches his beer and says, "I'll stick with this."  When Whitney offers him drugs at her 26th birthday party, Bobby tells her he's worked too hard to risk messing up. The jury is still out on this one.

If I compare this movie to the reality show (Being Bobby Brown), Bobby was a lot more eloquent than I had ever seen him appear across the many years of interviews.  Their reality show revealed the true Whitney and Bobby. Neither was eloquent, or dignified, nor were they committed to raising their daughter in a healthy atmosphere. And now she is a mess… in hospital…with rumours of a drug addiction.

For decades, as the world watched Whitney crash and burn because of her debilitating addiction to crack cocaine, many fans placed the blame squarely at the feet of Bobby.

But in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney’s older brother, Michael Houston, admitted that he was the one who introduced his sister to drugs.

Bobby always claimed that Whitney was the reason he started taking hard drugs. Until that point, the singer claimed in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, he only drank and smoked marijuana.

 If this is what really happened in the relationship, especially now with Bobbi in hospital, then we need to forgive Bobby for all the hate mail and years of finger pointing and actually blame Whitney for how her life, Bobby's and their daughter's turned out.

Whitney’s family was not supportive of the movie. Her mother told Entertainment Tonight that no one involved in the making of the movie knew Whitney. 

It is evident from what viewers were exposed to for one hour. Then we get to the music.

I appreciate your efforts Deborah Cox, but we all knew it wasn't Whitney. I would have preferred Yaya lip syncing and allowing us fans to enjoy an hour of true Whitney music.

In a statement from Pat Houston, President of The Whitney Houston Estate regarding the Lifetime movie: “What lifts up one person in the headlines may in fact destroy another. 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. 

"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. And, I might add, without the family’s blessing and despite her mother’s request to not do this movie. It happens every day."

See full statement here.

My final view: If you do not have the support of the family and the rights to the original work of the celebrity to do a biopic, the movie should not be filmed. Don’t play with our emotions here. Whitney, a singer like no other, has been reduced to a voice, a tumultuous relationship, and a drug addiction.