Whitney Houston’s family has made it clear that they do not endorse the Lifetime film depicting the late singer’s life.
Her sister-in-law Pat published last minute fighting words on whitneyhouston.com on Friday, one day ahead of the premiere of the television biopic, “Whitney.”
“There is often a fine line that separates elevation and degradation in the industry. What lifts up one person in the headlines may in fact destroy another. I don’t think it ever entered their minds that they were assaulting the legacy of another individual; they just want the job or the opportunity to shine,” she wrote. “But to do so in such an incredible way, to go after someone who cannot correct what you get wrong, someone who – like so many people, and especially women – struggled to hold up their humanity and live with dignity despite their personal challenges, is wrong.
WATCH: Angela Bassett Talks Directing ‘Whitney’
“The needs of Whitney’s family matter. We have dealt with her every emotion from the day she was born until the day she died, which gives us absolute position and absolute authority as a family to feel the way we do about her legacy. We matter. We’re still here. Why wasn’t there a call to myself, Gary, Cissy or even her daughter? Why deny selected members of the family an advanced copy of the film?” she continued. “As we once again enter a season of bereavement and the strategic timing so close to the anniversary of Whitney’s death, this is a disappointment that any of us who loved her could do without. This creative pursuit at the expense of the integrity of such an iconic woman, who is voiceless today, reeks of condemnation and deceit.”
The third anniversary of Whitney’s death is approaching — the singer died on February 11, 2012.
WATCH: Yaya DaCosta: How She Prepared For ‘Whitney’
Director Angela Bassett previously spoke to Access Hollywood about attempts to get the family’s consent for the project.
“The reaching out had occurred before I even came on board or simultaneously and I made sure that I reached out to her dearest brother… and of course I read her mother’s book to get that perspective in that time,” she said.
Whitney’s mom Cissy Houston is looking forward to putting this in the past.
“I’m glad the Lifetime project is finished,” Cissy told People. “I hope from now on her fans will keep her child, [Bobbi Kristina Brown], in their prayers, and I hope people will let my child rest.”
Angela had no intent of harming Whitney’s image through this depiction.
“It was our desire, our intent to show her loving spirit,” she told Access. “I hope this journey of this film will be a tribute to her humanity and her legacy and her dignity.”
PHOTOS: A Look Back: Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown
Pat further voiced her displeasure in her online letter.
“Never would Whitney allow her story to be told by an inexperienced team and how naive of anyone to think otherwise, unless you’re caught up in illusions of grandeur that you can just do anything and people will accept it,” she wrote. “This made for TV movie is certainly not a trailer to Whitney’s life story.”
At the film’s premiere on January 6, Angela once again spoke to Access about the controversy.
“Her legacy, her estate they control and I’m sure they have what it is they want to do and what they hope to do. This story I hope that they’ll know that it was done from a position of love and that they feel that and sense that and know that,” she said. “This, I’ve always said, this is for our viewing pleasure. This is for our ‘entertainment,’ but she was their daughter, she was his wife, she was/is her mother.”
Actress Yaya DaCosta – who plays Whitney – blocked out the negative noise surrounding the film.
“I was completely oblivious to all of it until after the fact, so I got lucky. Like I wasn’t on social media, I wasn’t on anything. I just like shut it down,” she maintained during an Access Hollywood Live appearance on January 6. “I’m an actor for hire.”
“Whitney” premieres on January 17 at 8/7c on Lifetime. Access Hollywood‘s Shaun Robinson will interview Bobby Brown in a special titled “Bobby Brown: Remembering Whitney,” airing directly following the movie.
— Paige Feigenbaum
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