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Aaliyah’s Family Boycotts Biopic

Can’t say we didn’t see this coming…

It hasn’t been a week since Lifetime announced that Zendaya Coleman was cast as Aaliyah in the biopic, “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B,” and folks are up in arms about the production. According to TMZ, Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager, is against the film because the network did not contact the family about the movie. Therefore, they are blocking Lifetime from using any of her music which would be impossibly hard if they don’t have publishing rights. They’ve also hired a lawyer in an attempt to block the release completely.

Like Whitney Houston’s family, they also feel that a TV movie is too small of a screen for an entertainer of her caliber. We’re not saying, they shouldn’t be upset, we’re still having trouble understanding why the network wouldn’t contact the family prior to making any announcement, but it took years for a Nina Simone movie to begin production and her career began in the 50s.

The Aaliyah family also protested Drake’s production of a posthumous Aaliyah album for the same reason–they weren’t contacted.


In additional telepic news, Michael K. Williams will co-star alongside Queen Latifah in the HBO TV Movie “Bessie.” Mo’Nique, Khandi Alexander and Charles S. Dutton signed on with Dee Rees, the film’s resident director,  to write and direct the pic that will chronicle the singers rise to fame despite her turbulent love life.

The TV film will be produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Company.

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For 2024’s iteration of MadameNoire and HelloBeautiful’s annual series Women to Know, we knew we wanted to celebrate the people who help make the joys of film and television possible. To create art is to create magic. This year, we spotlight Hollywood Executive’s changing the face of cinema.