Dionne Warwick Dismisses Accusation Her Sister Dee Dee Molested Whitney Houston: ‘Hogwash’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Dionne Warwick is dismissing accusations that her sister, gospel singer Dee Dee Warwick, molested Whitney Houston and her brother Gary when they were children.

“First of all, it’s totally hogwash,” Warwick said in an interview on “Larry King Now,” referring to an allegation made in the documentary “Whitney” about her sister, niece and nephew.” “And for those lies to be perpetuated in this so-called documentary film, I think it’s evil.”

Warwick added, “I will never, and I mean this, ever forgive those who perpetuated this insanity.”

Watch the interview in the clip above.

Also Read: ‘Whitney’ Film Review: Whitney Houston’s Rise and Fall Captured in Somber, Exhaustive Portrait

According to the doc, Houston confided in her personal assistant, Mary Jones, that between the ages of 7 and 9, her cousin Dee Dee molested her and her brother while growing up in their hometown of Newark, New Jersey. At the time, Dee Dee was 18.

Jones says in the on-camera interview, “[Whitney] used to say, ‘I wonder if I did something to make her think I wanted her.’”

“Whitney” director Kevin Macdonald said in a Vanity Fair interview that Gary Houston mentioned to him in that he attributes his addiction problems to “being molested by a female family member.” It was only later that Macdonald suspected that the same thing happened to the future superstar chanteuse.

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‘Sorry to Bother You’ Shakes Up Indie Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Sorry to Bother You” gives Annapurna its first box office victory since the launch of its distribution wing, opening this weekend on 16 screens in seven markets and making an estimated $717,302 for a per screen average of 44,831.

Written and directed by Boots Riley, songwriter for left-wing hip-hop group The Coup, “Sorry to Bother You” premiered at Sundance and blew away festival attendees with its fiercely original and darkly satirical tale of a black telemarketer who uses his “white voice” to climb the corporate ladder.

Also Read: Can ‘Whitney’ Continue White-Hot Summer Documentary Trend at Box Office?

Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer, “Sorry to Bother You”  has earned critical acclaim with a 96 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. It opens wide next weekend.

Elsewhere, the summer documentary boom continues as Focus Features’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” stays in the top 10 for yet another week after expanding to 893 screens. Making $2.59 million this weekend, Morgan Neville’s look into the life of Fred Rogers now has a total of $12.3 million, passing “RBG” as the top grossing documentary of the year.

Another documentary performing solidly this weekend was Roadside Attractions/Miramax’s “Whitney,” which made $1.25 million in its opening weekend from 452 screens. While it is facing stiff competition on both the wide release and arthouse fronts, this documentary about the late Whitney Houston will look for long legs over the next two months from the singer’s fanbase.

Also Read: ‘Sorry to Bother You’ Film Review: Boots Riley’s Ambitious Debut Throws a Lot at the Wall

By comparison, the 2015 Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy” earned $1.75 million from its widest weekend and went on to gross $8 million. A similar result would be the goal for this film, which has had just as strong reception as “Amy” with a 90 percent RT score and an A on CinemaScore.

Neon’s shocking doc “Three Identical Strangers” expanded to 51 screens in its second weekend, adding $717,000 for a per screen average of just over $14,000 and a 10-day total crossing the $1 million mark. Also, Bleecker Street expanded Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace” to 37 screens this weekend, adding $425,501 for a per screen average of $11,500 and a total of just over $800,000 after two weekends.

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‘Whitney’ Film Review: Whitney Houston’s Rise and Fall Captured in Somber, Exhaustive Portrait

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‘Sorry To Bother You’ Opens Strong; ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ Is Year’s Highest Grossing Doc – Specialty B.O.

Read on: Deadline.

Boots Riley’s Sundance fest debut Sorry To Bother You opened in seven markets, playing strong everywhere. Distributor Annapurna, which picked up the title out of the festival earlier this year, was rightfully thrilled with the opening weekend numbers. …

‘Whitney’ Film Review: Whitney Houston’s Rise and Fall Captured in Somber, Exhaustive Portrait

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

There was something uniquely American about Whitney Houston’s career. Through her non-threatening music and pristine persona, she occupied a place in the country’s consciousness few other black figures had reached before her.

The white mainstream was eager to embrace her, while African Americans concurrently doubted her understanding of their struggles. Yet she often acted as a bridge between the two, as was beautifully exemplified in her emblematic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl.

Such is one of many conflicting notions that plagued her unparalleled rise to stardom, her troubled private life, and ultimately her untimely death on Feb. 11, 2012. Serving as both a tribute to her privileged voice — for which she’s been dubbed the “best American singer in the last 50 years” — and a thorough examination of the many intimate battles she fought as a result of overwhelming fame and substance abuse, Kevin Macdonald’s documentary “Whitney” is a mostly somber and exhaustive portrait of an icon fallen from grace.

Watch Video: Whitney Houston Doc Serves Up Bombshells, Paula Abdul Shade in First Trailer

Early on, Macdonald (who won an Oscar in 2000 for “One Day in September”) reveals his intention to investigate any possible traumatic incidents that might have factored into Whitney Houston’s self-destructive behavior and proneness to engage in toxic relationships. He directly asks many of the film’s subjects, particularly family members, if they recall any neglect. The answer, at first, is always to dismiss any possibility of anything bad ever happening to “Nippy,” as her loved ones referred to her. The official narrative paints her as a happy girl from Newark who grew up singing in church and surrounded by a family of entertainers.

Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother and a legendary performer herself, appears only in the first few minutes of the film, those dedicated to her daughter’s upbringing and how rigorously she was trained to succeed. As Whitney’s story unfolds and darkness surfaces, Cissy fades into the background and is never seen speaking about her child’s most painful, and unfortunately public, moments.

Also Read: Can ‘Whitney’ Continue White-Hot Summer Documentary Trend at Box Office?

Instead, Macdonald fills in the gaps with dozens of testimonials from individuals who interacted with the superstar in all facets of her singular existence: aunts, siblings, former employees, managers, record company executives, family friends, “The Bodyguard” co-star Kevin Costner, and even the infamous Bobby Brown. Access is truly Macdonald’s main resource here, something that, for better or worse, last year’s “Whitney: Can I Be Me” didn’t have in such hefty quantities.

One major absentee, however, is Whitney’s long-time friend and collaborator Robyn Crawford, who only appears via archival footage. Their closeness sparked rumors regarding Whitney’s sexual orientation and her viability as a wholesome product for the American masses. Crawford, an out lesbian today, was demonized by the men in Whitney’s life and eventually receded following years of altercations with Bobby Brown. Thankfully, even if Crawford is never on camera to share her account, the film partly vindicates her as Whitney’s creative and emotional anchor.

Also Read: Lorde Apologizes for ‘Extremely Poorly Chosen’ Whitney Houston Quote on Bathtub Instagram Pic

Much less flattering is the way in which Whitney’s brothers Gary Garland and Michael Houston present their perspectives on a variety of issues pertinent to their famed sister. Their blatant homophobia is on display, as is their admission that they introduced Whitney to drugs. Interestingly enough, both are more concerned with any insinuation that they may have taken advantage of the status and opulence Whitney provided, rather than any regarding their bigoted views.

To Macdonald’s credit, he is persistent on specific topics when interviewing the Houston brothers, and even more so with Bobby Brown, who adamantly refuses to talk about Whitney’s drug addiction and his significant part in it. Regarding John Russell Houston, the singer’s father, the film lets those who knew him take charge and the result is not in his favor. Once everything is said and done, most of those in Whitney’s periphery come across as opportunistic bloodsuckers.

Assembling this doc was surely a gargantuan undertaking by editor Sam Rice-Edwards, who makes his debut cutting a feature, as he managed to piece together a comprehensive, if not entirely cohesive, two-hour work from countless hours of behind-the-scenes footage, talking-head conversations, live performances, news coverage, and family videos. One of Macdonald’s notable editorial decisions is his attempt to contextualize Whitney’s cultural prominence in relation to American history by interspersing clips of major events taking place simultaneously.

It’s a curious idea, but not entirely successful given the amount of moving parts at play.
Near the end of “Whitney,” when a major revelation is dropped on us about a traumatic episode in the artist’s childhood, Macdonald goes as far as to include the name of the alleged perpetrator, but his take becomes problematic because of the implications that come along with this new information in terms of who Whitney chose to love. It’s too easy a catchall source for all her hardships.

“Whitney” is at its most powerful when it focuses on reminding us what we all lost, because the more you think about how outstanding her gift was, the more tragic her absence feels.

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Can ‘Whitney’ Continue White-Hot Summer Documentary Trend at Box Office?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Not many documentaries get released on 450 screens right out of the gate, but Roadside Attractions/Miramax’s “Whitney” will do so in hopes of capitalizing on the passionate fanbase of its subject, music legend Whitney Houston.

There are no projections for the Kevin Macdonald doc, but a reasonable comparison would be “Amy,” another documentary about a recently-deceased musician, which made $1.8 million in its first wide release on 341 screens.

While the second quarter of 2018 set an industry record thanks to franchise staples like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Incredibles 2,” the box office riches have also trickled down to arthouses thanks to a trio of acclaimed documentaries. First was Magnolia’s “RBG,” a look into the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that opened a week after “Avengers” and has made $11.5 million.

Also Read: ‘RBG’ Film Review: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life Makes for a Snappy But Surface-Level Documentary

Following “RBG” was Focus Features’ Fred Rogers doc about “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” neither of which had a screen count exceeding 1,000 screens. Last weekend, NEON got in on the doc craze with “Three Identical Strangers,” the story of three men who discovered that they were triplets separated at birth. Released on five screens in New York and Los Angeles, the film had a solid per screen average last weekend of $34,301.

Though “Whitney” will be released this week against Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock notes that this year’s documentaries are filling a niche for adult-oriented alternatives to the usual summer blockbusters that is typically filled by films like last year’s indie hit, “The Big Sick.”

“This year there isn’t a drama from Sundance that is really standing out, but the documentaries are getting a lot of buzz,” Bock said. “And on top of that buzz, they have subjects that are really matching the political climate, with a documentary about a Supreme Court Justice and another about a TV star that promoted kindness. That’s been a big extra boost to their word of mouth.”

Also Read: ‘Whitney’ Cannes Review: Beyond the Bombshells Is a Straightforward Music Documentary

Bock also thinks that the recent commitment by Netflix and other streaming and TV outlets to documentaries has helped create a resurgence for the genre. Netflix’s two original docs, “Icarus” and “The White Helmets,” as well as ESPN’s “O.J.: Made in America” are among those that have come away with wins at the Oscars recently and have found mainstream popularity.

“Netflix has actively promoted documentaries on their front page and have gotten them in front of a larger audience, and that includes some other recent big films like ‘Blackfish,’” Bock said. “I think that’s definitely increased more interest in seeing documentaries in theaters, and when the docs that are in theaters arrive on streaming they’re bound to become even more popular.”

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‘Sorry To Bother You,’ Annapurna Says; ‘Whitney’ Docu Takes The Stage: Specialty Box Office Preview

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‘Whitney’ Cannes Review: Beyond the Bombshells Is a Straightforward Music Documentary

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

News of the shocking revelations in “Whitney” quickly went viral early Thursday morning, once the first Cannes Film Festival screening of Kevin Macdonald’s wide-ranging bio-documentary about Whitney Houston let out. The film, made with the full authorization of her family, revealed that the departed singer had been victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hand of her cousin, the late vocalist Dee Dee Warwick.

And yet watching Macdonald’s broad-view documentary at the first press screening on Thursday morning, knowing the bombshells in store, actually made for somewhat richer and more engaging experience. Because we aren’t sideswiped by the late-in-film reveal, we’re better able to recognize the different ways Macdonald alludes to it, pointing towards it at different points in time.

While that’s an impressive fact to keep in mind, especially because the director himself was only able to land that bombshell confirmation fairly late in the editing process, it’s not an entirely surprising one.

Also Read: Whitney Houston Doc Includes Accusation That Cousin Dee Dee Warwick Molested Her

Even with its shocking reveals, “Whitney” remains a straightforward behind-the-music doc that sticks to the standard rise-and-fall structure like a flight plan.

The film will invariably draw comparisons to Asif Kapadia’s “Amy,” which also premiered at Cannes and went on to win the Academy Award for best doc, but I wouldn’t bank on similar awards in this case.

While Kapadia’s uncomfortably intimate burrow into the life of Amy Winehouse benefited from a trove of found footage and the director’s clear editorial stance, “Whitney” is built on a more conventional assembly of talking-head and pop montages, covering the keystone media moments in Houston’s thirty year career.

“Amy” was a full-on record, while “Whitney” is more a greatest-hits compilation.

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Still, Macdonald’s film does have a thesis of a sort – namely that there was a world of difference between the international icon who delivered a rousing “Star Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl and the somewhat shy woman her friends and family called Nippy.

While the film ably hits the major points in Whitney’s rise and fall — that Super Bowl performance, her concert in the newly reunited South Africa, her disastrous ABC interview in 2002 — it has a harder time cracking Nippy.

Part of that stems from few key figures’ reluctance to participate. The singer’s rumored lover Robyn Crawford only appears in archival footage, with the film coming oh-so-close to labeling the true nature of the two women’s relationship without coming right out and saying it.

In fact, the film often uses denials to make the opposite point. His voice bellowing from behind camera, Macdonald flat-out challenges Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown and former label boss L.A. Reid about the singer’s drug abuse. Though both men offer mealy-mouthed obfuscations, their body language and uncomfortable mien speaks volumes.

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Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney Houston Documentary Gets July Release Date

Read on: Deadline.

Kevin Macdonald‘s Whitney, the documentary about the life and career Whitney Houston, will hit theaters in the U.S. on July 6. The date comes after Miramax back in June 2016 acquired rights to the film — the only one officially supported by the late singer’s estate — and partnered with Roadside Attractions to release it. Executive producer Altitude Film Entertainment is handling international sales and will bow Whitney in the UK and Ireland also on the same date.