Actress-turned-director Angela Bassett is adamant the controversy over her upcoming Whitney Houston biopic will give the project a boost by piquing the public's interest.
The star is taking charge of a new TV movie based on the life of the superstar singer with former America's Next Top Model contestant Yaya DaCosta in the lead role.
The project, titled I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story, has been criticised by Houston's mother Cissy, who claims producers have gone ahead with the film despite objections from the family, saying, "No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with (ex-husband) Bobby (Brown)... I find it difficult to believe people who knew and supposedly loved her would participate in a movie about her done by folks who didn't know her."
However, Bassett is adamant the controversy could be good for business, telling Billboard.com, "Controversy can be good. It can pique your interest." She added of her work on the project, "It felt like it was flowing from the beginning. Except me with the learning curve, you know. Coming from one side of the camera to the other."
Mos Def and Samuel L. Jackson have emerged as the frontrunners to play Bobby Womack in a biopic about the soul legend, who died earlier this year (14). The Across 110th Street singer's longtime tour manager and friend Don Smalls is masterminding the movie and admits he already has a 120-page script that Womack approved before his death in June (14).
Smalls tells WENN, "There has been talk of Mos Def and Samuel L. Jackson, but we're also interested in casting an unknown.
"I think with the right producer and director, this could be a real blockbuster. The new James Brown biopic (Get On Up) is one thing, but this has the makings of becoming a classic. There's such a story to tell.
"I've got a great script and we're in the process of tweaking that as I speak."
Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown marked what would have been the tragic superstar's 51st birthday on Saturday (09Aug14) by celebrating with a cake and candles. The 21 year old shared a series of photos on her Twitter.com blog to commemorate the big day, and one shot featured a tasty treat decorated with candles in Houston's honour.
In the accompanying caption, she wrote, "#HappyBirthdaymommy ! #HappyBirthdayWhitney ! #AllAugustAllWhitney #iloveyou ! ...#Family (sic)."
Brown, the late singer's only child with ex-husband Bobby Brown, wasn't the only one to remember the special date.
R&B icon Mary J. Blige shared a photo of her old pal and wrote, "Happy Birthday to angel with the voice of God, and my friend. I miss you so much!!! #WhitneyHouston #BirthdayGirl".
Singer Monica also shared an image of the I Will Always Love You hitmaker and wrote, "August 9,1963 (an) angel was born.... You inspired, you loved, you gave so freely of yourself & your amazing gift ?? #ForeverLovedAndMissed #TheVoice #OneofOne (sic)", while Kelly Rowland added her own tribute, stating, "#Happy Birthday Whitney #ForeverWhitney".
Houston died from accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors, in February, 2012. She was 48.
Veteran R&B group New Edition's former managers are suing the singers for outstanding fees amounting to over $500,000 (£295,082). The founders of Benchmark Entertainment filed documents in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday (29Jul14), alleging their former clients refused to pay up after firing them last month (Jun14), according to the New York Daily News.
Originally hired in 2012, Benchmark's founders Steven Greener, Kevin Gasser and John Hammond claim they masterminded a New Edition reunion tour, which is set to kick off later this year (14).
However, after band members Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins cut ties with them, the Benchmark bosses claim the group refused to pay them for the work they did securing the upcoming tour.
The management company founders claim they are owed at least $500,000 for setting up radio interviews and photo shoots, organising merchandising deals, securing venues and hiring a publicist,.
Benchmark's founders have also served as managers for artists such as Will Smith, Erykah Badu, Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins.
The lawsuit is the latest blow for the band - Bobby Brown bowed out of an ongoing U.S. tour due to medical reasons earlier this month (Jun14).
The singer struggled to bounce back from "an intrusive medical procedure" and found himself exhausted and fatigued onstage. The 45 year old, who was placed under doctors' care, returned to the spotlight in Detroit, Michigan on Friday night (25Jul14) but still appeared to be struggling to keep up with his bandmates.
Reports suggest Brown had difficulty with the demanding choreography and frequently walked to the end of the stage to pause and break from dance routines.
New Edition's current tour wraps up in Los Angeles on 3 August (14).
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
A James Brown biography would have no business playing docile. Still, when we hear the word “biopic,” we think today of the Rays and Walk the Lines that earned the attention of the Academy and public alike. We expect any musician’s story to hold the low notes, no matter how wild and kooky said musician might be — and as such might entail, in the illustration of his life, a connection that Get on Up makes quite effectively.
From the get-go, we’re enveloped in the mania that is James Brown. We’re invited into an old Mr. Brown’s fragmented brain via a particularly chaotic scene involving a shotgun and a penchant for lavatorial exclusivity. Before we can even latch onto the adult Brown in question, we’re thrust back a ways into his young adulthood, then his childhood, back again to the dawn of his career, then the peak, revisiting eras and introducing new ones with an unpredictable and consistently engaging rhythm. Not unlike his music, James Brown’s story is both irreverent and industrious, barely tiring as it carries past its second hour.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
On the contrary: the film is so adherent to its vigor that it can actually be exhausting to watch after a while. We’re asked to expend as much energy as Chadwick Boseman pumps into his evolution from a scrappy entertainer to the hardest working man in America, needing a breather around his fourth or fifth stage performance. But if you can make it through the show, you’ll be mighty impressed at Boseman’s turn as Brown.
In his embodiment of the character — of the flash, of the style, of the grit — Boseman is stellar, though beneath the elaborate linens we see find a great deal for the talented young actor to play with. Beside him is the film’s arguable standout: Nelsan Ellis, playing James Brown’s best friend, sidekick, and punching bag Bobby Byrd. More a story about the duo’s relationship than one about Brown as a star in his own right, Get on Up makes determined magic when we watch the fellas trade compassion, camaraderie, and egos.
Dressed up with visual flares, narrative transgressions, fourth wall demolition, and even a few bits of absurdist humor, Get on Up aims for the lively character that James Brown was known to offer. Even if it might pack too much to hold our attention for such a lengthy runtime — especially with most of its material wading at surface level — just about everything it has to offer is exciting, vivid, and distinctly musical.
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TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
Whitney Houston's mum Cissy Houston has slammed an upcoming TV biopic about the late singer, calling on filmmakers to "let her rest".
Actress Angela Bassett, who co-starred with Houston in 1995's Waiting to Exhale, is planning to make her directorial debut with I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story for America's Lifetime network.
However, she does not have support from Houston's mum, who has now spoken out against the made-for-TV movie. A statement to Entertainment Tonight reads, "Lifetime has chosen to go ahead with the movie about Whitney in spite of my family's objections."
"No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with (ex-husband) Bobby (Brown). In the two years since Whitney's death, many people have stepped forward to speak about their close relationship with her. I find it difficult to believe people who knew and supposedly loved her would participate in a movie about her done by folks who didn't know her."
"We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please please let her rest."
While the release date for the movie has yet to be revealed, the main cast has already been made public - former America's Next Top Model contestant Yaya DaCosta is set to play Houston, R&B singer Deborah Cox will provide the vocal tracks, and Final Destination 5 star Arlen Escarpeta will play Brown.
"I did not (know who he was). When I read the script, I was like, 'Is this a fictitious character?' (But) I did the research and I fell in love with this man... He was such a wonderful individual." Actor Nelsan Ellis had to study soul singer/producer Bobby Byrd's background before signing up to star as James Brown's best friend and confidante in new biopic Get On Up.
Actor Dan Aykroyd made quite an entrance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in America on Friday night (18Jul14) by performing one of his favourite James Brown tunes with rock 'n' roll veteran Bobby Rush. The Blues Brothers star portrays Brown's manager Ben Bart in new biopic Get On Up and decided to promote the film with a musical tribute to his late hero.
Aykroyd and Rush performed Brown's I'll Go Crazy and the actor then explained to host Fallon that the number was special to him as he used it to persuade his late friend not to retire.
Aykroyd explained he performed the track when Brown was part of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003.
The actor explained, "He was thinking about retiring and I sang it to kind of dissuade him from retiring - if you leave me, I'll go crazy... He was so much fun. He was a great guy, a wonderful man."
Brown died on Christmas Day (25Dec), 2006.
R&B star Deborah Cox has reportedly been tapped to provide the singing voice for Whitney Houston in the late star's biopic.
Former America's Next Top Model star Yaya DaCosta will be playing Houston in the TV movie, but Cox is in talks to recreate the music legend's songs for the film, according to E! News.
Reports suggest a deal for the music rights is still being ironed out, but the Nobody's Supposed To Be Here singer is on track to provide the vocals for Houston's iconic discography.
I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story also features Final Destination 5 star Arlen Escarpeta as Houston's former husband Bobby Brown, and Angela Bassett is stepping behind the camera for her directorial debut.
Houston died in 2012 aged 48.
Final Destination 5 star Arlen Escarpata has been cast as Bobby Brown in Angela Bassett's upcoming Whitney Houston biopic. Bassett, who is making her directorial debut with the TV movie, has cast America's Next Top Model star Yaya DaCosta as Houston and now she has her Bobby Brown.
News of the 33-year-old actor's casting was announced on Monday (14Jul14) when bosses at Lifetime - the channel behind the film - released a photo of the leading lady with Escarpata.