Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Whitney" TV Movie Debuts Tonight on Lifetime

We're all for celebrity biopics; sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad, sometimes they're actually insightful but usually they're at least interesting.  We're betting on Lifetime's Whitney to give us interesting and maybe more.  Premiering tonight Saturday at 8pm with an encore at midnight and also airing at 8pm and 11pm tomorrow, Sunday, Whitney tells the story of the immensely successful singer-actress Whitney Houston who unexpectedly passed away not quite three years ago.

Directed by actress Angela Bassett -- American Horror Story, What's Love Got to Do With It, ER, to name just a few of her memorable performances -- Whitney stars actress-model Yaya DaCosta in the title role, with Arlen Escarpeta as her controversial spouse Bobby Brown.  Notwithstanding all the carping that naturally goes on when a movie like this about a famous person hits the air, let's remember that this is the Lifetime network, not HBO, and we can't expect -- nor does the usual Lifetime audience even want -- a no-holds-barred expose full of drugs and the rest of the ugly stuff that evidently did go on in Houston's too-short life.  Let's go along with Bassett's declaration that this is a "tribute" -- click here to read more about it -- and take it on those terms.  You'll remember that Lifetime had a previous collaboration with the Houston family on the reality series The Houstons: On Our Own which focused on Whitney's daughter and her mother in the aftermath of Whitney's untimely death.  Houston's family has not been enthusiastic about this new TV movie, however; click here to read more about that situation.

You might like to read a few early reviews of Whitney -- click on the links -- such as this one from Variety, The New York Times' review is here, the Fast Company website has a review and an interview with Angela Basset available here, and here's a long and interesting article from, click here to read it.

This also might be a time to check out some of the real thing, namely Whitney Houston in a few of her TV appearances.  In 2009 she sat down for a long interview with Oprah Winfrey:

Earlier in her career, in 2002, Whitney did a one-on-one with Diane Sawyer;

Even earlier, the pop star answered questions from Barbara Walters, in this interview from 1993:

The Official Whitney Houston website is here, click to access.

Her fans' devotion has never wavered.  As an example, take a look at this long and loving fan-produced tribute video to her:

You'll also want to remember Whitney in her role as the Fairy Godmother opposite Brandy as Cinderella in the 1997 TV production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, as she sings the inspirational ditty "Impossible" -- it's pretty sweet, and so is the little featurette:

The TV movie Whitney premieres on Lifetime tonight at 8pm.  Click here for the movie's official website.

DaCosta & Escarpeta as Whitney & Bobby

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