A little more than two years following her passing, entertainer Whitney Houston is set to have a story of her life played out on the small screen. On Thursday, Lifetime Television announced that it was in the beginning stages of preparing a biopic about the singer, directed by one of Houston’s former co-stars, Angela Bassett. The two appeared together in the movie, Waiting to Exhale, back in 1995.
The film is the directorial debut of Bassett, who last appeared on television as Marie LeVeau, a voodoo priestess, in American Horror Story: Coven. The Houston story, currently being worked under the eponymous title Whitney Houston, will surround life the New Jersey born singer and her rise to fame, including the downside of that rise. It also includes moments of her sometimes controversial and plague filled marriage to another singer, Bobby Brown. In a statement, Bassett shared that she held the lives of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston in “high regard” and was fascinated to be able to help bring the tale to television.
“Their humanity and bond fascinates us all,” Bassett expressed. “I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to go behind the camera and into their world.”
The biopic, which has not been cast yet, will mostly emphasize on the union of the two singers. Brown and Houston were wed in 1992. With years of turbulence and rumors of drug abuse, Houston and Brown officially divorced in 2007. Houston spoke freely of what transpired behind closed doors during an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009, one of her final public appearances. During their chat, Houston relayed to the talk show mogul that many of the melees that sometimes played out publicly were related to the high level of celebrity she had. The star power of Brown, once strong, never came close to the height that she held.
“I tried to play down all the time,” Houston explained. She admitted that there were times where she attempted to be nothing more than a wife. “I tried to play: “I’m Mrs. Brown, everybody. Don’t call me Ms. Houston.”
She went as far as to allow cameras into their personal lives for the taping of the Bravo reality series, Being Bobby Brown. The show, which lasted for one season in 2005, often showed Houston in a very harsh light. There were times of her being disheveled or obvious moments where she was not in her right frame of mind. She revealed that it was something she did to make her husband happy, as opposed to something that would help keep the Whitney Houston brand a top priority.
“I did it for him,” she said. “How could you not do a reality show, and I’m your wife, and not have me in it?”
On February 11, 2012, Houston was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She had planned to appear at a pre-Grammys party thrown by her mentor, Clive Davis. Houston had also completed filming Sparkle, a remake of a 1976 drama, earlier that year. She was 48 years old at the time of her passing.
The movie on the life of Houston is the second collaborative effort of Bassett and Lifetime Television. The first, Betty and Coretta, featured Bassett and singer Mary J. Blige as the widows of human rights activist, Malcolm X, and civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Whitney Houston biopic, set to air on Lifetime in 2015, will have Larry Sanitsky as its executive producer (he held the same role for Betty and Coretta) and Shern Bitterman will be writing the screenplay.
By Jonathan Brown