Two Whitney Houston documentaries are in production

Amy Kaufman
Los Angeles Times

Two filmmakers have announced plans to make documentaries about Whitney Houston, but the legendary singer’s estate is saving all its love for only one of them.

On Thursday, Altitude Film Entertainment — the production company that released last year’s popular Amy Winehouse doc — announced that it is making a film about Houston with director Kevin Macdonald. The news comes a month after Showtime said it was producing a doc about the late singer with filmmaker Nick Broomfield, best known for his movie about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

But Macdonald’s film is being declared the “official” Houston doc because its producers say the picture has been given the blessing of the musician’s estate. The film will include interviews with Clive Davis, the Sony Music exec who mentored Houston for decades, and will not “shy away from the darker parts of Whitney’s life,” according to a news release about the project.

“The story that is never told about Whitney is just how brilliant she was as an artist; by many measures she had the greatest voice of the last 50 years,” said the director, whose documentary “Storyville: One Day in September” won an Oscar in 2000. “She changed the way pop music was sung — bringing it back full circle to its blues and gospel roots. She was also completely unique in being a black pop star who sold in countries where black artists don’t traditionally sell.”

Houston was found unconscious in a bathtub in the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2012 and was pronounced dead shortly afterward. Her death at age 48 followed a decades-long battle with addiction and a tumultuous 15-year marriage to singer Bobby Brown. During her career, Houston sold over 200 million records worldwide and had a record seven consecutive no. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits.

Macdonald, presumably, will have access to Houston’s extensive musical catalog — something Broomfield may struggle with. According to Showbiz 411, Broomfield is already running into trouble securing interviews: “Everyone ever connected to Houston is being told to ignore Broomfield’s pleas for interviews,” wrote the site’s Roger Friedman. “At the recent Arista Records reunion, the word was being spread to anyone who worked with Whitney not to sit down with Broomfield.”

Macdonald’s film, due out in 2017, is being introduced to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival next month.