Whitney Houston biopic premiere draws A-list crowd

Smokey Robinson, Angela Bassett, Deborah Cox, Berry Gordy
Singer Smokey Robinson, left, actress/director Angela Bassett, singer Deborah Cox and Motown founder Berry Gordy attend the after-party for the premiere of Lifetime’s “Whitney” at Spago in Beverly Hills.
(Todd Williamson / Invision for Lifetime)

Whitney Houston’s star power continues to be a surefire attraction as evidenced by the A-list celebrities at Tuesday’s premiere of “Whitney,” Lifetime’s upcoming original biopic of the late singer that marks the  directorial debut of actress Angela Bassett.

Magic Johnson, Motown founder Berry Gordy and legendary singer Smokey Robinson were among the invite-only attendees for the screening at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Bassett introduced the film, saying the project, though scary at times, was anchored by love, faith and affection for Houston.

Others in the star-studded crowd that celebrated at an jubilant after-party at nearby Spago restaurant included Bassett’s husband, Courtney B. Vance, who co-starred with Houston in “The Preacher’s Wife,” Blair Underwood (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Glynn Turman (“House of Lies”), Tasha Smith (“Why Did I Get Married?”) and Ebony Repertory Theatre head Wren T. Brown.

Attendees gave a rousing reception for the film, which focuses on the stormy relationship and marriage between Houston and singer Bobby Brown. Yaya DaCosta (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) stars as Houston, while Arlen Escarpeta (“Final Destination 5") plays Brown.


Particularly loud cheers greeted several production numbers, including several re-creations of Houston’s performances, with DaCosta lip-syncing to vocals by singer Deborah Cox.

“Whitney,” which premieres Jan. 17, has already drawn controversy and criticism from members of the singer’s family, who were not involved in the project. The film downplays much of the more notorious aspects of the couple, including their drug use and personal and professional conflicts, and is more a tribute to Houston’s artistry.

Twitter: @gebraxton

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