TCA 2015: Lifetime movie ‘Whitney’ downplays Whitney Houston scandals

Director Angela Bassett attends the premiere of Lifetime's Whitney Houston biopic "Whitney" at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on Tuesday.
(Angela Weiss / Getty Images)

Angela Bassett wants to make it perfectly clear: “Whitney,” Lifetime’s biopic about Whitney Houston and her stormy relationship with husband Bobby Brown, is a tribute to the late singer. Viewers expecting to see a vivid depiction of Houston’s troubles will come away disappointed.

“Whitney was a sensitive soul, and what she loved to do most of all was sing,” Bassett said during the winter session of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. The film, which marks Bassett’s directorial debut, premieres Jan. 17.

The Oscar-nominated actress said the film focuses more on the “largeness” of Houston’s and Brown’s life and love during their early phase of their relationship rather than the more tawdry aspects of their union, which included drug use, career jealousy and infidelity.

“Who knows the truth except the ones who lived it,” said Bassett. “But the film is honest.”


When pressed by reporters on why she did not concentrate on the more notorious aspects and decline of Houston’s career, she said: “Do we really need to see that? She was a mother, sister, friend. We forget that she just wanted to live a normal life.”

Bassett and Houston starred together in the 1995 film, “Waiting to Exhale,” and almost instantly formed “a mutual admiration society. We had a lot in common, as mothers, as wives, as artists.” She also recalled Brown visiting the set of the film, and said he was “courteous, nurturing, attentive and quite respectful.”

Houston’s family had no involvement in the project, and reportedly had objections. Bassett said she had approached them, and that the family was more interested in a feature film about Houston.

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