Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Here’s the Real Whitney from 2009


I took this picture at Clive Davis’s 2009 Grammy party. Whitney performed a whole set, and she was more on target than ever. I have video from that night, too. It was a rare moment for Whitney in the 2000s, when she was on form. She had a big talk that night with Alicia Keys about writing a song for her, and hung out with Mary J. Blige her good friend. Whitney’s various annual appearances at the party were always an issue. One year she showed up with sister in law Pat Houston, was introduced to Al Gore and had no idea who he was. Last year. she came to rehearsals completely stoned, red eyed, in a manic mood. At the actual show honoring her cousin Dionne Warwick, she just went off script and off the page. She was a mess. But for the 2009 show, she was our Whitney. I hadn’t seen a show like that with her since she performed songs at a New York event for AmFar (this when they were  a decent orgsnization) to promote her “My Love is Your Love” album. Here’s what I wrote in 1999:

“So many stars showed up at the AmFAR bash that it would he hard to name them all. Arista’s ingenious Davis had a posse that included Whitney Houston—who wowed the crowd with a few numbers from her new album, “My Love Is Your Love,”– her mom Cissy Houston, Barry Manilow, Mary J. Blige, Kenneth Babyface Edmonds, LA Reid, Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Mase, and the tiresomely ubiquitous Sean Puffy Combs. By contrast, Barbara Walters had with her some heavy hitters: ABC News’s Roone Arledge and David Westin, as well as Disney/ABC head honcho Michael Eisner. Tom Hanks’s fan club included his wife, Rita Wilson, and director Ron Howard, and writers Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi. Elsewhere around the room we spotted Christian Slater, looking spiffy in his tux, with playwright Warren Leight, celebrating a night off from “Sideman,” the Broadway hit written by Warren and starring Christian.”

photo of Whitney c2009, c2012 Roger Friedman. All rights reserved.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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