Last year, VH1’s TLC biopic "CrazySexyCool" accomplished a lot. Not only did the movie make Lil Mama, who played TLC’s Left Eye, look like a semi-respectable actress, but it also introduced the general public to the highly personable Keke Palmer. Despite critical backlash, the made-for-TV production proved to be a ratings smash for the cable network. It has also spawned a number of copy-cat productions.
In recent months the interwebs have been buzzing with the latest details and insider gossip leaking from planned Lifetime biopics about the arguably equally tragic figures of Whitney Houston and Aaliyah. Are these going to be the zeitgeist-conquering behemoths that "CrazySexyCool" became, or are they bound to be down-market imitations? You can judge for yourself as we break down the latest in the world of R&B diva biopic news.
The movie about the late, great Houston is one of the most anticipated flicks of the year, but will it crumble under the pressure? Angela Bassett, Houston’s co-star and close friend, will direct the unauthorized look at the vocal virtuoso’s life in front of the mic and in the headlines.
The movie has drawn a considerable amount of criticism while in pre-production. The Houston clan is up in arms, calling on Bassett to halt production, claiming Whitney’s life is far too big for the small screen. Houston’s own daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, took to Twitter to bash Basset’s decision not to cast her as her own mother.
To add fuel to an already bustling fire, producers have locked down rights to Houston’s original music, but not her actual recordings. So Lifetime announced that R&B singer Deborah Cox will dub the words to the music, a move that left ardent Houston fans aghast.
Ever since her untimely death in a crash of an over-packed private jet, fans of the 1990s R&B legend have waited for the perfect script to sum up Aaliyah’s turbulent life. There was, of course, her relationship with full-time mentor/producer R. Kelly. Then there was everything leading up to her mainstream success starring opposite Jet Li on "Queen of The Damned." In other words, there’s more than enough material for this plot.
However, Lifetime, is stumbling again, and the movie hasn’t even begun shooting. Single-named Disney star Zendaya pulled out of the production in June amid fan protests that claimed she was too light-skinned to play the title role. Just when things looked bleak, the Queen of all Media, Wendy Williams, stepped in as executive producer, and brought in 23-year-old actress Alexandra Shipp to replace Zendaya.
In addition to the Lifetime TV movie, Aaliyah’s life may also be headed for the big screen. S2smagazine.com reported that singer B. Simone is already signed on to star; Terrence Howard and Woody Harris will reportedly appear in the full-length feature scheduled for a 2015 release.