​Whitney Houston Family Absent: Stars Attend Movie Without Houston Family

Author: Kara GilmourBy:
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January 8, 2021

Whitney Houston’s family was absent for the premiere of her biopic, after declining an invitation to participate in the “Whitney” program from the start.

“It was the family’s choice and decision because of what they want to do and whatever their desires or their plans are, not to be involved in this one,” director Angela Bassett said.

But a blast of Houston’s colleagues and friends did make the screening. It took place at the Paley Center for Media, just blocks from the Beverly Hilton hotel, where the 48-year-old Houston drowned in her guest room in February 2012. The official coroner’s report listed heart disease and cocaine as contributing factors in her death.

Guests who knew Houston included athlete-entrepreneur Magic Johnson, music producer David Foster and musicians Smokey Robinson and Sheila E.

While Whitney Houston’s family was absent, the Oscar-nominated actress marked her feature-directing debut with the biopic, which debuts Jan. 17 on the Lifetime cable network.

“But they didn’t have anything negative to say about it,” Bassett noted. “You know, sometimes to be silent is the greatest gift.”

Bassett and Houston worked closely during production and promotion of the 1994 big-screen drama “Waiting to Exhale,” and Bassett expressed fond memories of her co-star.

“To have had that experience of being around her,” Bassett said, “all that came back to serve me in the making of this.”

As Whitney Houston’s family was absent, production was not allowed to use singer’s original recordings. So, to deliver something approximating Houston’s distinctive voice, Bassett hired singer Deborah Cox, Houston’s one-time label mate, recording partner and longtime friend.

Cox took the gig, even though she said it was destined to be a thankless assignment.

“I knew I would be judged,” Cox recalled, with a smile. “Everyone was going to come for me. Don’t. I come with love.”

As did actress and former “America’s Top Model” runner-up Yaya DaCosta (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”), who said she took on the role of Houston concerned about just one critic: Houston herself.

“When we were on set, that’s all I thought about: ‘I don’t really care what any living person thinks. I want to make her proud,'” DaCosta recalled. “And that, for me, is all I needed to be OK with this project.”

Whitney Houston’s family was absent, attendees gave a rousing reception for the film. The story focuses on the stormy relationship and marriage between Houston and singer Bobby Brown. Yaya DaCosta (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) stars as Whitney, while Arlen Escarpeta (“Final Destination 5″) plays Brown.

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