Tag Archives: Biopic

Whitney Biopic Directed by Angela Bassett on Lifetime Tonight



Angela Bassett has taken a brief pause in her acting career steps behind the camera to direct biopic ‘Whitney’ a movie that airs Saturday (Jan. 17) at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother publicly spoke out the film was being made against the family’s objections. “No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with Bobby,” she said. “We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please please let her rest.”

whitney-houston-bobby-brown-at-vh1-divas-duets-post-concert-party-in-2003“We all know how it ends,” Bassett says. “And we all make mistakes. Most of us get to make them in private. Whitney and Bobby had to make them in public.”

“We’re looking at a five-year moment in time,” Bassett says — the late ’80s and early ’90s, before things spun way out of control.

Houston and Brown finally divorced in 2006 and Houston died Feb. 11, 2012, at the age of 48.

Even as Houston was achieving professional success no one can imagine, even when the country saw her as America’s Sweetheart, a golden voice inside a calm, beautiful, poised and elegant woman, there was trouble in paradise.

There were drugs. Lots of drugs, Houston later admitted. In the film, she’s having fun with cocaine back when Bobby was still saying no.

Their relationship eventually slid into mistrust and physical abuse, on both sides. Houston’s short run on Bobby’s reality TV show at times portrayed her as snappish and impatient, with a mouth like a sailor.

It was those small personal moments — some surprising and many charming — with which Bassett says she tried to fill out the picture.

Whiteney“Whitney” isn’t based on any one source, and it wasn’t made with the cooperation of any key people in Houston’s life. Nor does it use Houston’s own voice, though it features four of her songs: “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Will Always Love You.”

While Houston is played by Yaya DaCosta, the songs are sung by Deborah Cox. Cox also sings bits of a few other songs, mostly gospel.

Bassett says her goal with the movie was to “play it down the middle, just try to tell the story as factually as we could.”

Bassett says she also drew extensively on the autobiography of Clive Davis, the music mogul who signed Houston and set much of her musical direction.

Bassett is well known herself for playing Tina Turner, another internationally famous singer who had serious issues in her marriage.

“What you need to remember about Whitney is that no one had the success she did. We make that point right at the beginning. In four years she had seven straight No. 1 hits and sold 30 million albums. That’s more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. In four years. And she was 23 years old. How do you deal with that? How does anyone deal with that?

“I hope we’ve shown that we need to have compassion for the journey she and Bobby were on — and the choices they made.”

Mick Jagger presents James Brown biopic ‘Get On Up’ premiere at Apollo Theater


james brown storyBy: Ken Simmons

Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer hosted a “funky good time” for the invitation-only crowd at the Universal Pictures premiere of Get On Upthe James Brown Story, on July 21, 2014 at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. As Apollo President and CEO Jonell Procope said in introducing Jagger and Glazer, “I can’t think of a more fitting place for the premiere. The Apollo stage has always been synonymous with James Brown, and vice-versa.”

mick jaguar“The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” made his Apollo debut on Amateur Night and the famed theater on 125th street became his home with dozens of performances during his career. Rolling Stoneranked his iconic 1963 Live at the Apollo number 25 on its list of the 500 greatest albums (The magazine also named him the seventh greatest recording artist of all time). The Godfather of Soul’s life came full circle, as following his death on December 25, 2006 at the age of 73, his body was displayed in an open casket in the theater for thousands of fans to mourn a true legend.

Nearly eight years later, it was a night of celebration for the premiere of the biopic starring Chadwick Boseman (who portrayed Jackie Robinson in 42) as the pioneer of funk from Barnwell, South Carolina who recorded sixteen number one hits and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He was “Soul Brother Number One,” and songs such as his classic, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Jagger recalled seeing Brown perform for the first time at a matinee at The Apollo in the 1960s, and years later, he returned to have Brown call him up on stage. The Rolling Stones frontman admitted he was so embarrassed, he attempted to run away, and had to be literally forced onto the stage.

Directed by Tate Taylor, whose credits include the Oscar nominated The Help, Get On Up traces Brown’s incredible career from a youth of abject poverty and being abandoned by both parents, to imprisonment, to traveling the world in his own private jet. Boseman is brilliant recreating his mannerisms, his undeniable confidence, and the dynamic dance moves that made him “Mr. Dynamite.” He’s surrounded by a strong supporting case. Dan Aykroyd, who starred with Brown in The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, and Dr. Detroit, portrays his agent and manager, Ben Bart. Jill Scott appears as Brown’s second wife Dee Dee Brown, Viola Davis plays the mother who deserted him, and Octavia Spencer is the aunt who raised him. Comedian Craig Robinson plays it straight as the celebrated saxophone player Maceo Parker who led his band.

jill scottThe story line weaves back and forth from childhood to his unparalleled stardom, and describes how while serving time for robbery, his life turned around when he met gospel singer Bobby Byrd who was performing for the inmates. Brown eventually moved in with Byrd’s family, and they became close as brothers. Another friend was Little Richard, who shared valuable advice as they plotted their ascension into music history.

Get On Up presents the joy and the pain, the good and the evil in James Brown. He volunteered to perform for troops in Vietnam and risked his life as his plane was under attack, yet he arrived safely and entertained the soldiers. He also brought peace to Boston when he ignored the Mayor’s decision to cancel his concert on the night of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination for fear of rioting.

On the flip side, we are witness to his problems with domestic violence, and how his drug abuse led to the infamous two state police chase in 1988 that resulted in a six year prison sentence.

Of course, his infectious, unforgettable music is the true star of the film, and we hear many of his classics on stage, in the recording studio, and in rehearsal: “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “Cold Sweat,” I Got That Feelin’,” “Soul Power,” “Super Bad,” “Try Me,” “Say It Loud,” and the title tune, “Get On Up.”

Numerous celebrities including Martha Stewart, Rev. Al Sharpton, Tony Danza, Freddie Jackson, Valerie Simpson, and Luke James were among those attending the premiere along with Congressman Charles Rangel.

Following the screening, the gala after party began in a luxury tent behind the Apollo, and Jagger, Tika Sumpter (who briefly appeared as singer Yvonne Fair). and Scott all separately burned up the dance floor. Robinson turned up the heat as the MC, taking the crowd higher to the James Brown tunes spun by his brother, DJ Cris Rob. A Soul Train line spontaneously formed, and as Jagger watched in admiration, who was the best dancer?…

james-brown-ii-and-tomi-rae-brown-premiere-of-get-on-up-tattoo-1406107928-view-1The Godfather of Soul’s son, 13 year-old James Brown II.

Dad would have been proud. The legacy continues.

Get On Up opens August 1.