A new documentary about Whitney Houston will include unreleased recordings. The Estate of Whitney Houston has approved the use of previously unreleased music by the later superstar “previously unreleased recordings, rare never-before-seen footage and live performances recorded by Houston at various stages her life, as well as original studio recordings and acapellas of some of the late singer’s greatest hits.”
McDonald previously scored a huge hit with his bio-doc of Bob Marley. Now he is poised to do the same with Whitney, whose family gave him unprecedented access to her archives.
Houston’s Estate has not always been so welcoming to filmmakers. In 2017, Nick Broomfield released Whitney: Can I Be Me, which premiered on Showtime. That documentary used footage of Houston’s 1999 world tour as well as interviews to explain the deep roots of Houston’s drug addiction. The Houston Estate blasted the documentary. Although Broomfield tried to get their cooperation, they wanted to do with the controversial movie. The movie talks at length about how Clive Davis pitched Houston toward the white community, sowing feelings of distrust and betrayal by black music fans. This culminated in Houston being booed off the stage at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. The backlash caused Houston to take control of her career, but the experience resulted in lifelong scars.
The real fireworks in the Broomfield documentary came when Bloomfield delved into Houston’s sexuality. Interviewees described getting constant questions about her sexuality from music programmers who controlled the radio. Broomfield’s thesis was that the arrival of Bobby Brown on the scene set off a battle between Houston’s presumed girlfriend, Robyn Crawford, and Brown. The documentary also talks extensively about people in Houston’s circle ignoring warning signs about her drug use.
The Estate expects no such drama from McDonald, who said in a statement, “I approached Whitney’s life like a mystery story; why did someone with so much raw talent and beauty self-destruct so publicly and painfully? I was lucky enough to have the support of Pat Houston and the Whitney Houston estate in this quest. They entrusted me with the ‘keys to the vault’ while giving me complete freedom to follow the story wherever it went. At heart, Whitney is an intimate family story that reveals a new side to a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew.”
Pat Houston, who manages the Estate, praised McDonald. “”To tell Whitney’s story, you have to know her story. We could not be more excited that Whitney’s fans will have this authoritative and definitive documentary chronicling the full arc or her career and the scope of Whitney’s entire life. This is an amazing retrospective that celebrates Whitney with never-before-seen footage and Kevin approaches her life with no blinders on. He captures all of Whitney’s magic, and he does not ignore the hard times. This is a film that will truly thrill all who knew and loved her as a musician, actress, model and so much more.”
The movie will be released on July 6th by Miramax and Roadside Attractions. No plans for a soundtrack or commercial release of the new music has been revealed by McDonald or the Estate.
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