One Last Look At Whitney Comes To The Big Screen In August
The shocking death of Whitney Houston on Saturday has the entire world scratching her heads. Yes it was known that she has had drug and alcohol issues - the belief was that she finally became clean and sober, but recent photos about 48 hours before her death did not seem to show her on a good path. A sad end to a story that seemed to show signs that a comeback was in the works, with a return to the big screen for the 1st time in over 15 years.
Whitney Houston's downward spiral saw it's first sign by 2003 with the sales of her CD Just Whitney be considered extremely disappointing - under 4 Million. Any artist would kill for that kind of figure, but Whitney usually meant 10 Million minimum worldwide, and with a $100 Million contract from her record label, sales could never at that pace make back their investment (6 CD release contract).
Then there had been her marriage to Bobby Brown (New Edition). Whitney had said on a Barbara Walters ABC Special that Bobby was "Her Drug! I did not do anything without him. We were partners, and that's what my high was. Whatever we did, we did together - no matter what." The light shined on this relationship in it's unflattering light in the Bravo network show Being Bobby Brown.
Houston was a prominent figure throughout the show. Whether or not this was planned, seeing Whitney in her state created buzz and some of the highest ratings in Bravo history. The Hollywood Reporter said that the 2005 show was "the most disgusting and execrable series ever to ooze its way onto television."
Following her divorce in 2007, Houston focused on herself with sobriety and a new CD. By 2009, her new release I Look To You had about the same amount of success as her last release in late 2002 (about 4 Million worldwide). What was hurting the progress of her sales had to be the poor reviews she received for her live concerts (quality of her voice not what it was), and rescheduled concerts brought some negative media attention as well.
This year seemed to be the last chance for Whitney to regain her status as an "A-List" talent, and she was banking on a project that she had been trying on and off to make happen for nearly 15 years. Houston had secured the rights to a 70's Cult Classic film called Sparkle. The idea was to make this film the follow up to The Preacher's Wife (the last time she had been seen on the big screen), but the film seemed destined to go nowhere when Aaliyah died in August of 2001 - she was cast in the lead for Houston's remake.
The project was being reconsidered last year after Whitney's production company Brown House released its first major motion picture with profitable success (Jumping The Broom which made nearly $40 Million - cost only $7 Million to make). Houston took the role of principal Producer and star of Sparkle and cast the likes of former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks along side the funny Mike Epps (the Friday movies, and The Hangover), and Michael Beach (Soul Food, Lean On Me, and the NBC series Third Watch to name a few) who she worked with back in the day on Waiting To Exhale.
This version of Sparkle will follow the three Williams sisters, singers at their local church choir who eventually go on to become a successful girl group. Their sudden rise unravels their personal lives, and the youngest sister, a music prodigy named Sparkle, struggles to become a star while overcoming the issues that are tearing her family apart. Houston plays mama Emma, and it was believed that this film was going to be a hit.
The film is estimated to cost about $17 Million to make. Figure now with Houston's passing that this film will perform beyond expectations, and could get Houston the respect she has deserved as an actress. Whitney was bashed by critics for The Bodyguard in 1992, but the film went on to make over $400 Million worldwide (giving her the last laugh).
The comeback will fall short with Whitney Houston's untimely death, but keep August 17th in the back of your mind. This will be a chance to see Whitney Houston in a light that does not seem to be tainted by drugs, alcohol, and bad influences. Her voice cannot be silenced because of her memorable performances of the past (her National Anthem in '91, the Grammy Awards in '94, and many others). The hope is that this last chapter can be something to be hailed for Houston. May she rest in peace.