General News

Did the Oscars Fire Whitney?

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Aug 15, 2001 | 10:35am EDT

If you think this year's Oscars were jinxed, what about Whitney Houston? After causing a profusion of ink to spill over her alleged catfight with Rosie O'Donnell at the Grammys, the putative diva is once again whipping us entertainment news types into a salivating frenzy with another alleged fiasco at Sunday's Academy Awards.

For those who don't already know, Houston was tapped to perform during the telecast's interminable song medley (the one with Queen Latifah, Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes and Garth Brooks), but was replaced, under hitherto undisclosed circumstances, by country star Faith Hill.

Rumors ran amok as to the reason behind the sudden substitution -- the most popular version had the songstress being fired by composer (and Oscar musical director) Burt Bacharach during a rehearsal Friday for repeatedly messing up her musical number.

A report in today's New York Daily News dispelled assertions about Bacharach axing the singer, but the tabloid did allude to the unsubstantiated report that Houston's departure was not a voluntary act.

While Whitney Houston's people were indisposed to talk, they did, however, fax us a prepared statement.

"Whitney Houston arrived in Los Angeles with a sore throat. After participating for the 72nd Academy Awards show both Thursday and Friday nights, she was unsure that she would be better by Sunday. She therefore regretfully withdrew from the performance," Houston's publicist Nancy Seltzer explained in the statement.

And the Oscar camp corroborates.

"No. No. Whitney was not fired," Oscar spokesman Jane Labonte told Hollywood.com today. "I was actually at the auditorium. She didn't feel good. She was having problems with her voice. And at the end, Whitney decided that at the end, she wasn't going to risk it and be in the show. She bowed out."

Y2K has been an ill-fated year for Houston. First there was her reported pot bust at a Hawaiian airport in January, with possible charges still pending. And following that, there were the missed Grammy rehearsals and the notorious incident in which she reportedly flipped off hostess Rosie O'Donnell during the music-awards telecast.

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