I told you back on November 26, 2019 exclusively that Anthony McCarten was writing the screenplay for the official Whitney Houston biopic.
On Saturday night, Whitney’s close friend, mentor, and advisor, as well as record producer Clive Davis commented on the Richard Weitz Quarantunes Zoom show the screenplay was done, and financing was in place for the film. Clive will executive produce.
Today on SiriusXM’s Clay Cane Show, Davis reiterated the Whitney news. He said: “I have just closed the deal with Anthony McCarten, who was the writer of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘The Two Popes’…this is the full Biopic of Whitney Houston, where, yes, we will graphically and honestly tell the story of her fight and battle against drug addiction, but we will also show why she was loved by millions. We will also show a musical genius and we will also show insights as to her dreams for herself. So that has just been closed. We break the financing for Whitney’s Biopic, and we’re really literally this week out to the studios for distribution.”
Clive also talked about his history with black music and how he managed to get R&B records “broken” on Top 40 radio without waiting to cross over from black radio. This is true, but he really did this when he brought Philadelphia International into Columbia Records in the early 70s. He also broke Earth Wind & Fire as a pop act. Don’t forget, “Shining Star” and “That’s the Way of the World” came straight to WABC back in those days.
He told Clay: “African American artists, black artists had to prove themselves in and with R&B stations before they ever had a shot at going in Top 40. Now, the reason that that’s relevant, is that the big money to these artists came with a quote pop record. And, I didn’t like that sort of racial approach that if you were African American, you could not go to a Top 40 first..I believe music is universal and I’ve felt very sympathetic to those African American orders that were only limited to R&B because they didn’t make great money..”
Clive gives some props to Sean Puffy Combs, but it was Clive at Arista who really used his successful Columbia formula that put hip hop on top 40, just the way he’d done for all those Philly artists– The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, etc. We have so much of “classic soul” from the 70s because of Clive Davis. He likes to say songs are “great copyrights.” But they’re really just great records that have been as Clive would say ‘the soundtrack of our lives.’