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Cast This: Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown In The Angela Bassett-Directed Lifetime Original Movie

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 29, 2014 3:16 PM
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By now, we all know that Angela Bassett's will make her directorial debut with the Lifetime Original Movie Whitney Houston (working title), which will chronicle the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model, and singer, songwriter Bobby Brown - from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage. 

I have such regard for both Whitney’s and Bobby’s amazing talents and accomplishments; and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story,” said Bassett. “Their humanity and bond fascinates us all.  I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to go behind the camera and into their world.

Produced by The Sanitsky CompanyWhitney Houston will be executive produced by Larry Sanitsky (who produced Betty & Coretta, the Lifetime Original Movie that Bassett starred in last year). 

Shem Bitterman (Betty & Coretta) wrote the film’s script.

Whitney Houston is scheduled for a 2015 world premiere.

Of course, Bassett and Houston co-starred in the adaptation of Terry McMillan's novel, Waiting To Exhale, in 1995, under Forest Whitaker's direction.

It's rare that I'm stomped when it comes to casting ideas; I almost always have a recommendation or two, no matter the role. But this time folks, I'm officially stomped. I can't think of any *known* actors I'd cast to play Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown in the film. It might simply be that I'm just not interested in seeing a film based on their real-life relationship. And that could be because, even though I don't (didn't) know either of them personally, I feel like it's a story that was played out publicly enough in the media that there is some familiarity (and it wasn't all-that interesting a story to me anyway), and I'm just not excited about a feature film retelling of it - especially one that's being made for the Lifetime movie channel, a network known for its mawkish, schmaltzy, melodramatic brand of programming.

I actually would prefer a film about an even more shortened period in their lives - like a week, a month, or even a day; Pick one of the more interesting, dynamic and dramatic moments during those first 5 years the film will cover, and make that the film's focus. 

Since word of a Whitney Houston biopic began circulating many moons ago, several actresses have expressed interest in playing her, or have been rumored to have been attached to various Whitney Houston projects, even when she was alive: Brandy, Meagan GoodLark Voorhies and Vivica Fox was once rumored many years ago. There was also talk of Rihanna starring in a Whitney Houston biopic. "I would have to give my entire life to do [it], because I would really want to pull it off," was her quote in an MTV interview 2 years ago.

If it were up to me, I'd look at *unknowns* for the 2 starring roles (they come with less baggage), and then cast *known* actors around them, in supporting roles, especially if having recognizable talent in front of the screen is a Lifetime movie mandate.

I should note that, 2 years ago, Bobby Brown was said to be shopping around a script based on his life, to Hollywood studios, and there apparently was some interest, although details were sparse at the time. Titled The Bad Boy of R&B: The Bobby Brown Story, it smelled like, with Whitney Houston's death, Brown was looking to capitalize on that unfortunate occurrence. No word on whether it's a project that's still alive.

But, really, I'd rather Angela Bassett and Lifetime pick some other subject matter entirely to tackle. There are after all, an infinite number of stories in the known universe to tell. Choose one of them instead. 

But I'm not Bassett, nor am I an executive at Lifetime, so it's not my decision to make, and I have zero influence here, sadly.

But pretend that you do have a say in how the film is cast! Who would you want as Whitney Houston and as Bobby Brown in this Angela Bassett-directed Lifetime movie? By the way, you should be aware that the story will take place during the first 5 years, following the couple's initial meeting. So we're talking 1989 to 1994, or thereabouts. Therefore, actors and actresses considered will have to be able to play late 20-somethings. Whitney was 26 in 1989, and Bobby was just 20 years old. So keep that in mind when you're coming up with names.

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  • alp | June 19, 2014 3:30 PMReply

    Nobody could say "Kiss My Ass!" like Whitney. That better be in the movie.

  • Neets | June 19, 2014 3:23 PMReply

    I wouldn't be interested in watching a
    Movie on Whitney's and Bobbi's relationship on lifetime it's already been
    Done long ago and it was horrendous why go back to that, ide much rather see a movie from the start of her life when she was little girl all the way up until the end, and
    That will include a bit of hers and Bobbi's relationship but
    Not a whole movie about it, that's stupid, and I love
    Angela Basset but Lifetime movies are dumb , Whitney's
    Biopic needs to be something worthy of
    An award!

  • rashad | June 6, 2014 7:02 PMReply

    Paula Patton to play whitney!

  • Donella | June 4, 2014 2:16 PMReply

    I'd prefer Whitney's role to be a "known" actress and Bobby's to be an "unknown," which presents an opportunity for a young male actor to really bring it.

    Halle Berry was a "known" actress before Dorothy Dandridge, Angela Bassett was "known" prior to Tina Turner, Lawrence Fishburne was "known" prior to Ike Turner, Diana Ross was "known" prior to Billy Holliday, Forest Whitacker was "known" prior to Charlie Parker.

    I simply don't buy that only an unknown can portray Whitney well.

  • Sakara | June 2, 2014 1:45 PMReply

    I'm a big Whitney Houston fan and Simone Moore that actress on "Lauren" can do it, I think a no name would be perfect for this sort of role what Lupita Nyongo was for 12 years a Slave, Simone is classically trained too and I saw her demo on IMDB she looks just like Whitney, is slim like Whitney and is really talented.

  • Elizabeth Glass | June 2, 2014 2:28 AMReply

    Whitney will be missed dearly her music was so beautiful it always touched my heart my fav song was Miracle but i hope they find someone real good to play as her Rih you inspired alot of people

  • Lele Barber | June 1, 2014 3:30 PMReply

    I look up to Whitney Houston and I would love to play my idol in her life movie.Whitney Houston is an icon.

  • Shawn Whitsell | June 1, 2014 6:07 AMReply

    Toni Belafonte favors Whitney in some of her pics. With hair and makeup, she could definitely be made to look like her. As for Bobby....ME! It's a dream of mine to play him. So yeah, I'm your man. Lol #deadserious #castmeAngela

  • Whitney Lover | May 31, 2014 2:01 PMReply

    Ok so I looked up Toni Belafonte, she looks so much like her, it's cray, but not alot of credits and I've never seen her act...then I looked up Cassandra Freeman and she looks like her too, but her hair is not could be cool to see Cassandra Freeman have her day in a role like this though, she's sexy and very dramatic?! Niki Behari is a little too small to pull it off...You know everyone is going to be sitting around to see this movie to love on it or hate on it..either way!

  • Rafa Cube | May 31, 2014 12:11 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman. Look her up on IMDB and Google some images. Great talent, person, and reputation.

  • c_hep | May 30, 2014 8:48 PMReply

    Cassandra would be good in that role. She looks like her and has the chops to act the s*^&*%t out of the role.

    I wonder how intense they'll go with the end of her life part of the story...?

  • Toni B. | May 30, 2014 1:49 PMReply

    I'm it, Toni Belafonte. Good call Ken! ;-)
    Search me on youtube, I am playing just one night, one moment peek into Whitney's life. Add Toni Belafonte to the conversation....lets here from the fans.

  • Nasya | May 30, 2014 11:53 AMReply

    Cassandra Freeman would make an amazing Whitney!

  • Jaye | May 30, 2014 11:48 AMReply

    Cassandra Freeman would be a great for the role of Whitney Houston, she will surely pull it off right!!

  • Ken | May 30, 2014 10:21 AMReply

    Toni Belafonte as Whitney Houston. Yes, she's an unknown, but has an amazing physical similarity to Whitney Houston, and is an immensely talented actress. Check her out on the web, and I think you'll agree.

  • RHD | May 30, 2014 10:04 AMReply

    Cassandra Freeman has the chops and the beauty. She's the one.

  • troublemaker | May 30, 2014 1:15 AMReply

    They need to go with new talent for both Whitney and Bobby's roles! I would rather see new faces for the TV movie.

  • Peace82 | May 29, 2014 11:24 PMReply

    Joy Bryant would nail this role. Plus if you look at some of her head shots she looks so much like a young Whitney. And she can act! I hope they consider her.

  • Ashley | May 29, 2014 11:21 PMReply

    I wouldn't be surprised if Condola Rashad ends up with the role.

  • t chase | May 29, 2014 11:10 PMReply

    I kind of like the idea of someone like Tatiana visually but for some reason don't see that being executed well. I think an unknown or semi unknown actress would be best. I'm a big fan of Gabrielle Dennis aka Janae from The Game she has great acting chops and a similar build to Whitney plus she used to be in a singing group and is obviously OK with TV movies because she had two I really enjoyed on BET. As far as Bobby I think an unknown is definitely best because I can't think of anyone except maybe the actor Marcus ? who played Moeshas little brother...I know Bobby has a Jr I'm curious if he acts lol casting has a tough job if needing to cast known actors and whatever actor is chosen will have a tough job portraying their essence.

  • Cherokee rose | May 29, 2014 10:58 PMReply

    Nicole Beharie? She's a little on the short side but they can work that out. She definitely has the chops and she can sing as well though I suspect they'll probably just use Whitney's vocals. Yaya Dacosta? Teyonah Paris? Sonequa Martin-Green?

  • What the fuck? | May 29, 2014 10:03 PMReply

    With the piss poor suggestions I am seeing here, how do done of you have the audacity to complain about casting? Some of these names... Sigh.

    Hold an open call and find NEW talent.

    Side note: is the the catalogue of (black) actors that thin?

  • Jenny M | May 29, 2014 9:20 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman! Intelligence, training, sexiness, TALENT!

  • Shanea80 | May 29, 2014 6:17 PMReply

    I always thought Joy Bryant could possibly play Whitney, but she may be too old play Whitney in her mid-20s. I have no clue who should play Bobby.

  • Joe | May 29, 2014 8:55 PM

    Yes! I totally agree with you. She has the perfect face and can act as well.

  • Don | May 29, 2014 5:56 PMReply

    Excellent piece

  • Clive | May 29, 2014 5:52 PMReply

    I see Cassandra Freeman's agent and manager are in the house LOL. Maybe y'all missed the part where it says the actor needs to be able to play a 26 year old. I've looked at her pictures and Cassandra Freeman does not look anywhere close to 26. GTFO! Lol!

  • Dave's Deluxe | May 29, 2014 5:49 PMReply

    "If it were up to me, I'd look at *unknowns* for the 2 starring roles (they come with less baggage)..."

    T got jokes! :)))))))))

  • MJP | May 29, 2014 5:30 PMReply

    Who should play Whitney? What about Cassandra Freeman from "Single Ladies" and "Inside Man?"

  • Malcolm | May 29, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Just looked her up...Cassandra Freeman could be cool plus she can act and sexy!

  • Courtney | May 29, 2014 5:08 PMReply

    Yes!@Ron. Cassandra Freeman would be brilliant! She's got the looks and talent this role needs.

  • JJ | May 29, 2014 5:05 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman! How is she not in the list of people in the running for this!

  • JJ | May 29, 2014 5:05 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman! How is she not in the list of people in the running for this!

  • JJ | May 29, 2014 5:05 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman! How is she not in the list of people in the running for this!

  • Ron | May 29, 2014 4:56 PMReply

    Cassandra Freeman. Hands down

  • Donella | May 29, 2014 3:55 PMReply

    I'd love for Angela to knock this project out of the box, so of course I'll help out.

    KeKe Palmer an actress/singer is at the top of my list. She already played Chili, but I think she has the acting skill and personality spark to pull off Whitney. And I would hope she would use her own vocals instead of dubbing Whitney's. She's young though 21, I think.

    Tatiana Ali, also an actress/singer, with a healthy bit of acting under her belt would be a second runner-up. She's 35. She may be able to pull off 26. Though she's known for playing good-girl Ashley on Fresh Prince, she's taken on darker roles in independent films.

    Tika Sumpter is about the right age, and performed well in Sparkle. I'm not sure if she used her own vocals or was dubbed. But she's been working, working, working steadily and that makes her a contender. She's 31.

    Naturi Naughton, actress/singer who's already portrayed Lil Kim, but that was years ago. Good projects under her belt and no stranger to music and movie combinations. She also performed in the Fame remake. I don't know how tall she is, but some things like that can be corrected with platforms or lifts and camera angles.

    Those are my picks!

    I'd choose multi-talented Raven Symone in a heartbeat, for similar reasons, but she looks too dissimilar from Whitney.

    Unfortunately for Rihanna, while she has the height, personality, and vocals to do a decent portrayal, her acting resume's too thin for me to feel comfortable with her being such an iconic lead. Way too much baggage from tabloid press to disappear into the role.

  • THEBLACKTINAFEY | May 29, 2014 3:51 PMReply

    Maybe even Aml Ameen. He's a fine actor. But, I think Elijah can capture a bit of the underlying tone of Bobby's jokester nature.

  • theblacktinafey | May 29, 2014 3:45 PMReply

    Naturi Naughton and Elijah Kelley

  • TZA | May 29, 2014 3:42 PMReply

    Rihanna & Tristan Wilds

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