In case you hadn’t heard, the Lifetime TV network are currently filming a biopic based on the tumultuous life of Whitney Houston.
While many recent TV movies have been train wrecks – Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Gershon as Donatella Versace to name but two – there have also been triumphs, like ‘Coco Chanel’ and ‘Behind The Candelabra’.
When news broke of a Whitney biopic we were unsure which way it would go, but with the announcement of Angela Basset as director we’re preparing for something memorable. The actress knows a thing or two about re-creating the essence of an icon. In fact she lays claim to arguably the greatest example of this on film – her Oscar nominated portrayal of Tina Turner in ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’. In the TV world she turned in a beautiful performance as Katherine Jackson in ‘The Jacksons: An American Dream’.
In what will be her directorial debut, Bassett will now pay tribute to a legend she had a working relationship with – having starred opposite Houston in the 1995 film ‘Waiting To Exhale’. While Whitney’s family will have no input, Bassett says she will ensure that the film will respectfully honour her former co-star while not shying away from the singer’s troubles: "I really just want to tell a story about a boy and a girl who fell in love, and I want to be as honest as I can about doing that. We know that drugs were a part of their story and that's certainly an element of their story. We can't tell their story without that. It's involved, and I hope we can unpack it gently."
Angela has cast newcomers to portray both Houston and Bobby Brown, explaining "I want you to fall into the world of Whitney and Bobby. And I don’t want to stop you at the gate with the image of something familiar, someone you’ve seen from something else."
Adding another major shot of credibility to the project is the latest announcement that the fabulous Deborah Cox will be providing Whitney’s singing voice in the film. Besides being one of the only vocalists in the industry with the chops to do Houston proud, Deborah also has a history with the late singer. Like Whitney, Deborah was discovered by industry legend Clive Davis. Both singers were label mates on Arista and collaborated with many of the same writers and producers on their music – Diane Warren, Rodney Jerkins, David Foster, etc.
For Houston’s ‘Greatest Hits’ project, Deborah was chosen to join forces with Whitney for the breathtaking duet ‘Same Script, Different Cast’ – where their voices intertwine flawlessly. Fans and critics agreed it’s the only time Whitney was ever truly matched on record with a sparring partner who wasn’t outshone vocally.
Deborah says she is “honoured” to lend her voice to this latest project. The film is currently shooting and is due to premiere next year.