As one of the biggest Pop divas who ever lived, Whitney Houston‘s tale has proven too big too fit into one body of work – a feat evidenced by the multiple projects that have been developed since her untimely death in 2012.
From ABC’s ‘Superstar’ (2020) and Lifetime’s ‘Whitney Houston & Bobbi Kristina: Didn’t We Almost Have It All’ (2020) and ‘Whitney’ (2015) to Showtime’s ‘Can I Be Me’ (2017), the big screen biographical documentary ‘Whitney’ (2018), the forthcoming big screen scripted biopic, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ (2022), and more, Houston’s story has been dissected, analyzed, and reimagined in several different formats.
And if the forthcoming project ‘Whitney In Focus’ is any indication, that’s a trend that won’t be stopping any time soon.
‘Focus,’ based on the February 8-due book ‘Young Whitney’ by photographer Bette Marshall, is said to be a “cinematic photo story of a photographer and her young muse” that will exclusively explore the icon’s life before she rose to international superstardom.
Directed and produced by Benjamin Alfonsi, EMMY/GRAMMY/TONY-winning singer-actress Audra McDonald serves as executive producer and was tapped to narrate the documentary.
As buzz around ‘Focus’ grows, however, the forthcoming film has been the focus of the Houston estate for all the wrong reasons. Ahead of the release of their own Whitney movie, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ (due in theaters Thanksgiving 2022), the estate released a statement that reads:
“The Estate of Whitney E. Houston is not involved in any way with this [‘In Focus’] documentary and no one came to us for permission,” the estate wrote. “We are saddened to learn that Bette Marshall who had a relationship with Whitney and her family over 35 years ago (and not since) did not reach out to the family at all. We will not be cooperating in any way with this, nor will we support or approve of any music licensing to the project. The amount of unauthorized documentaries is very upsetting and exploitative.”
In defense of his film, Alfonsi hit back.
“[‘Focus’] is the complete opposite of the exploitative film treatments in recent years that have may have sought to tarnish Whitney’s memory. I did not seek nor did I require any permissions from the Whitney Houston estate to tell this story of a photographer and her one-time muse, who became one of the biggest stars of all time.”
At writing, no official release date for the documentary has been published.