Lifetime announces Nov. 15 premiere date for Aaliyah biopic

Lifetime's Aaliyah biopic to air Nov. 15

Lifetime has set a date for its Aaliyah biopic.

"Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" will premiere Nov. 15, the network announced Thursday. Lifetime also released a new still from the film showing Alexandra Shipp as the late R&B star.

Lifetime’s original movie about the singer’s life, including her rise and tragic death in a 2001 plane crash at the apex of her fame, has been controversial. When the network announced the project over the summer there was a backlash from the singer’s fans and family.

Fans protested the casting of Disney star Zendaya Coleman in the role of the singer-actress affectionately known as Baby Girl. Numerous petitions even popped up online.

Jomo Hankerson, the singer’s cousin and president of her label Blackground Records, also spoke out against the film. Hankerson told the New York Daily News that the family’s issues weren’t with Zendaya’s casting but with Lifetime.

“It’s never been about the actress. The problem that we have is that Aaliyah was an icon and she deserves an iconic tribute, not a Lifetime movie,” he said.

“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It,’ the Tina Turner movie,” Hankerson said. “This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.

A few weeks after Coleman’s casting was announced, the singer-actress backed out of the film. In interviews she said the film felt rushed.

Shipp, best known for starring in the Nickelodeon series "House of Anubis," stepped in to replace Coleman.

The film is based on the bestseller “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley, released a few months after her death.

Lifetime also has a biopic on Whitney Houston in the works. 

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