Yesha Callahan

Whitney Houston’s Family Issues Statement Criticizing Lifetime and Angela Bassett Over Biopic

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“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.” — The Houston Family

On Saturday night, the Whitney Houston Whitney biopic directed by Angela Bassett aired on Lifetime.  Before the film even aired, Houston’s sister-in-law Pat Houston issued a statement on behalf of the family, condemning Bassett’s biopic as ‘opportunistic’ and criticized the actress/director for not seeking input from the Houston family. Pat Houston also slammed Bassett for basing the biopic from the perspective of Whitney’s ex-husband Bobby Brown.

Read the full statement below:

“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. 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. 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.

It is easy to turn a blind eye to other people if you’re not careful. But the needs of Whitney’s family matter. 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. We matter. We’re still here. Why wasn’t there a call to myself, Gary, Cissy or even her daughter? Why deny selected members of the family an advanced copy of the film? 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. This creative pursuit at the expense of the integrity of such an iconic woman, who is voiceless today, reeks of condemnation and deceit. It reeks of enslavement to an industry that will likely do the same to you one day. As my grandmother used to say, ‘Keep living.’

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. 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. 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. You should expect people will always rise to the occasion for prominence and profit – not love, respect or honor. I question the morality of the making of this because of the lack of experience knowing Whitney’s life. 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. This made for TV movie is certainly not a trailer to Whitney’s life story.

God gave us a gift in Whitney and she gave us her best, despite what stories are told. We will wear a breastplate of armor for Whitney and that’s what friends are for. 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.

Truth is violated by silence just as much as by a lie.”

  1. January 19, 2015 - Reply

    The WHITNEY movie was a Lifetime move – it was what it was. And in my opinion, it should have been titled WHITNEY AND BOBBY since it was more about their relationship than Whitney herself. But if there ever was a Whitney Houston biopic made that told the TRUTH, the Houston family would be very unhappy as it probably would not portray them very kindly.

    Whitney Houston was a drug addict who came from a family of drug addicts. Up to now it still seems very hard for them to come to terms with this. They still want Bobby Brown to take the fall for her issues. Bobby and Whitney were definitely not good together (though IMO there was some love there) and it was an unhealthy relationship, but she had problems and was using WAY before she got together with him. Also, it’s very telling that after they divorced Bobby managed to clean up and get sober while Whitney couldn’t. We don’t know what her demons were that kept her from getting sober but I sincerely doubt it had much to do with him.

    This family need to come to come terms with this as it looks like Bobby Kristina is caught up in this cycle. It would be very sad if they lost her to drugs too.

    • January 19, 2015 - Reply

      @Mikela123

      Just because YOU said that ‘Whitney Houston was a drug addict who came from a family of drug addicts,’ does this give ANYONE the right to decide to profit off of her drug use and tumultuous relationship with Bobby by throwing together a ‘story’ about it? If you’re going to knock (judge) Whitney and her family for being ‘drug addicts,’ then let’s throw some stuff put there about those who, without the blessing of her family, decided to go against this desire. Let’s start with Ms. Bassett, one of Whitney’s ‘friends.’ When was the last time she actually made something that was Oscar worthy? Besides that oh so depressing celluloid trash called ‘Waiting to Exhale,’ when was the last time she made a move that actually drew rave reviews? Now let’s go on to Deborah Cox, also one of Whitey’s ‘friends.’ How long has it been since she’s had a hit single? I doubt very seriously that either of them went into this thing thinking ‘we’re going to make a great film about our girl and make everybody proud,’ without the true motive of ‘I’m going to use this as an opportunity to revive my tired, and damn near over with career. As Black folks, we need to stop accepting anything that is thrown at us. Whitney Houston, in spite of whatever her personal issues were, gave the world a lot of great music. There isn’t an artist today who can hold a candle to her talent. Mariah, Beyoncé, and the rest can’t even caress a song the way Whitney did. Whitney was celebrated the world over while she was alive and in passing because of that voice. I remember when Tejano singer Selena was shot to death back in the nineties. A couple of years later, Jennifer Lopez was portraying her in a big screen production. It was a good movie, however, Selena was a singer who wasn’t known or as celebrated as Whitney, and her audience was primarily Mexican-American. This isn’t to say that Selena wasn’t gifted, because lord knows the woman had a beautiful voice and died just as she was about to blow up, but why would we accept a ‘Lifetime’ production, a production that no doubt came from the same network that recently did the same kamikaze with that mess about another of our own, Aaliyah? The family has come to terms with Whitney’s issues, even if they may have not accepted it when she was alive or in passing. However, who hasn’t had an issue with accepting a loved one’s imperfections, especially when it comes to substance abuse? Ad far a Bobbie Christina is concerned, we do not know how the family is, or isn’t dealing with her issues. Addiction isn’t something that someone decides they’re going to end at the drop of a hat. Like anyone else who is struggling with addiction, I’m sure that she has had her ups and downs, tried to get sober, and fell off the wagon. It’s no indication that the family isn’t rallying around her The bottom line is, the fact that they went ahead with this in spite of the family’s desire for them not to basically said that they wanted to make money and they were not going to back down, even if it meant ignoring the family. By the way, I know drugs are destructive, but I didn’t know that Bobby Brown had such a light complexion.

      • January 19, 2015 - Reply

        @good2bfree

        So you don’t believe her family is also trying to profit from her image? Everyone got their hand out trying to make money off Whitney, and I don’t know if the family is any more deserving.

        And I’m not defending Lifetime. Their movies are crap. I agree that a Whitney Houston biopic belongs on the big screen, but as I said earlier, any honest biopic of Whitney would go there with her drug addiction which this family is not ready to deal with.

        The family’s main gripe with this movie was that it was more than fair to Bobby Brown. From what I have seen from interviews with her mother, the Houston family wants to maintain the perception that Bobby Brown was the Bad Guy who ‘corrupted’ Whitney and played a role in her downfall. But that’s not true. Whitney’s brother admitted that he introduced her to cocaine. If a real biopic was made it would talk about things about Whitney’s family that they haven’t come to terms with yet. If anything they were lucky that movie was pretty shallow and only focused on short span of her life. They are not ready for a biopic.

        One other thing – if Selena died today, her biopic would be on Lifetime. The movie industry is very different today. That movie was on the screen less than 2 years after her death. No way would a movie studio take that chance on some Tejano singer or have such a quick turnaround today.

        • January 19, 2015 - Reply

          @Mikela123

          Regardless of if Selena had died yesterday, today, or last week, the point is, the Mexican-American community AND her family accepted nothing but a big screen production, AND the family was consulted and was involved. Black folks will accept ANYTHING. You appear to be bitter towards the Houston family for asking what anyone with an ounce of common sense would request: not to exploit a loved one’s memory for gain. What has her family, as you claim, done since her passing to ‘profit’ off of her legacy? Considering they’re HER family, if they wanted to make a profit, they could have done so a long time ago because they have control over her estate. As far as ‘the family not being ready to deal with her addiction,’ it is very presumptuous of you to make that call, and besides, if it was YOUR family member would you like to see his or her personal issues exploited all for the sake of gaining television ratings? It’s one thing when something like this makes the news, but to actually script a movie about it without the family’s consent or participation is foul as hell. I question why the studio denied them an advanced screening of the movie. What were they trying to hide? Were they afraid they would be challenged, or did they know they were wrong for doing it to begin with and simply did not want bad publicity to taint their potential ratings winner? As I stated in my previous post, Angela Bassett has not made ANY major waves since her Oscar nominated performance for ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It,’ and Deborah Cox has not had a major hit since ‘Nobody’s Supposed to be Here’ I doubt very seriously either of them participated in this debacle for free. If you don’t believe me, then consult with Wendy Williams. She did the same thing a few months ago.

  2. January 19, 2015 - Reply

    Glad I didn’t watch

    • January 19, 2015 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Once they said that Deborah Cox had to do the music because they couldn’t get the rights, I said [in my Shark Tank voice], “I’m out!”

      • January 21, 2015 - Reply

        @Love.tweet.joi

        Actually, Deborah Cox was the star of the movie. Her vocals blew me away! Homegirl has got some pipes – after watching the movie, you can’t deny that.

        • January 21, 2015 - Reply

          @princessdi81

          Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love Deborah Cox…I KNOW she did a great job. I guess I just feel that Whitney is being exploited a bit. If Lifetime was willing to do a movie about someone without the family’s approval (twice), so much so that there was a plan put in place in order to make the movie without access to their catalog, then the intent behind the movie appears shady (malicious even). It rubs me the wrong way.

          • January 22, 2015 - Reply

            @Love.tweet.joi

            Lifetime did acquire rights to use Whitney’s music or else they wouldn’t be featured in the movie. The voice-over has nothing to do that – you can’t just play the recorded song, either the actor sings or there a voiceover for the scene to give it a more “natural feel.” Angela Basset sang in What’s Love Got to Do With It (Tina Turner is alive and was part of movie’s creation) Jamie Foxx sang in Ray, Joaquin Phoenix sang in Walk The Line, and so on.

            Unlike Aaliyah’s family, Whitney Houston’s family don’t control her music. Whitney Houston did not have any song writing or publishing rights. In the end, she was just another recording artist dependent on her label. Who has her music rights? That grinning face you saw after her movie introducing all her great performances. Clive Davis.

            • January 22, 2015 - Reply

              @Mikela123

              Want to correct – Tina Turner did sing some parts in the movie – she provided the “voice-over” for her own movie and re-recorded some music. But again, it had to recorded again to match the scenes and Bassett’s movements in the movie.

  3. January 19, 2015 - Reply

    Got my momma discussing the things that she learned from this biopic like it’s fact! She wasn’t there. She don’t know what happened.

    I wonder if Bobby Kristina is mad though because Angela used her for information and then cast her aside. If so, there could be some real truth in this story.

    • January 19, 2015 - Reply

      @Love.tweet.joi

      @Love.tweet.joi: Bobby Kris was very angry because she thought Angela Bassett was supposed to cast her in the leading role.

      • January 19, 2015 - Reply

        @Mary Burrell

        That’s what she said…but I was thinking…if I were backstabbing and underhanded, I would tell the child she was getting the role and pump her for inside information. Just me thinking out loud…no truth here…

  4. January 19, 2015 - Reply

    Many members of Whitney Houston’s family have disapproved of the Lifetime biopic of Whitney Houston. My advice is that if the family of a loved one doesn’t want a biopic to exist, then the family of that loved one should have their wishes to be respected. It is as simple as that. The movie itself focused on a specific timeline of her life, which was from the 1980’s to the 1990’s. The movie focused on Bobby Brown too. Its title could be called “Whitney and Bobby.” The movie had a lot of love scenes and the movie focused primarily on Whitney’s imperfections. Yet, Whitney Houston had great talent and a great amount of love for her family and friends. Her voice can never be duplicated and she certainly loved her fans. She loved music. I do notice that Lifetime wants to show stories about us black folks and Lifetime wants to make some money.

  5. January 19, 2015 - Reply

    She said she was her friend,friends don’t hurt the family of a dearly departed friend that can’t speak for themselves. I am so disappointed in Angela Bassett. If Whitney Houston’s family didn’t want this film made she should have honored their request

    • January 19, 2015 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Not that it would matter, but if I were a celeb, I would put in my will: Don’t make any biopics about me. One movie strictly based on my autobiography. If there’s no autobiography, then there’s no movie.

    • January 19, 2015 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Co-sign!

  6. January 20, 2015 - Reply

    I do believe an explanation to Whitney Houston’s family and fans should be made from Lifetime for the reality show that began filming and aired so soon after her death; oh my bad The Houstons on our own was produced by Pat Houston wasn,t it?

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