Because the scope of Whitney Houston’s life is so vast, it’s no surprise that many scenes in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” are shown in rapid succession.
The film (which is now in theatres) was made with the cooperation of Houston’s estate as well as her mentor, music mogul Clive Davis, imbuing it with authenticity (and a bounty of her gorgeous pop songs).
Still, in the most revered of biopics, creative licence abounds, so we sought clarification on several moments that made us go “hmm.” We enlisted the help of an expert: the film’s director, Kasi Lemmons, who worked on “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” for 17 months.
Was Whitney Houston involved with Jermaine Jackson?
When Houston and Jackson recorded the duet “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful” for Jackson’s 1986 album, rumours flew “”Precious Moments” is an album. Houston and Jackson are seen in the film batting eyes in the recording booth, followed by Houston telling her jealous girlfriend, Robyn Crawford, that she had been intimate with Jackson.
Lemmons confirmed that “strong emotions were present” when the pair recorded together, which led to an affair (Jackson was married at the time). LaToya Jackson, Jackson’s sister, also stated on “The Talk” in 2012 that her brother had admitted to the relationship.
Was Whitney Houston’s father, John Houston, the one who told her she had to date men in public?
Houston’s sexuality is explored early on in the film, as she and Crawford become fast friends and low-key romantic partners. But Houston’s father, John, had strong feelings about his daughter’s image, particularly as her music career took off.
“We talked to everyone in Whitney’s circle, and (her father) John was very focused on the brand,” Lemmons says. “We heard from multiple sources that he was extremely upset when the news (about Whitney’s sexuality) broke and that he threatened Robyn.”
Was Whitney unable to attend her father’s funeral because she was high on drugs?
Scenes from John Houston’s funeral are intercut with shots of Houston slumped in a chair at home, high on drugs, in the film.
While Houston did miss her father’s funeral, Lemmons claims it wasn’t because she was too high to go.
Houston was probably still upset about her father suing her for breach of contract a few months before, even though she had forgiven him on his deathbed.
However, John passed away in 2003, and Whitney entered rehab in 2004. As a result, her substance abuse issues were “”They all happened around the same time,” Lemmons adds.
Did Whitney have an intervention at Clive Davis’ house?
Did Whitney get drugs from dealers who disguised themselves as fans asking for her autograph and hid the drugs in pens?
The film depicts Houston devising a devious method of obtaining drugs: swapping pens with a dealer posing as a fan seeking an autograph. (The drugs were hidden within the pen.) While Lemmons believes that more than one dealer engaged in such transactions with Houston, she claims that screenwriter Anthony McCarten has footage of the “fan” discussing the arrangement.
“People take credit for the strangest things,” says Lemmons. “Several people came out after Whitney died and claimed to be her dealer.”