Experience the voice you know and discover the story you haven’t heard in Columbia Pictures’ Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, a powerful and triumphant celebration of the incomparable Whitney Houston.
“We sought to make Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody a rich, beautiful, moving, and very human tribute to a great talent – one of the greatest we will ever see,” says director Kasi Lemmons, who helms the film, joining forces with much of the creative team that brought the worldwide hit Bohemian Rhapsody to the screen, including screenwriter/producer Anthony McCarten. “She has a complicated story, in the way that all humans are complicated. We can relate to her and the struggles she went through, the pressures she faced, and we get to understand her.”
The film began when legendary music executive Clive Davis had a chance meeting with screenwriter/producer Anthony McCarten, fresh off the worldwide success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. “Over dinner in a New York restaurant, Clive proposed I consider Whitney as my next film project, promising that he could facilitate the introductions to the Houston estate that would be necessary to unlock access to the music, without which no story about a musician is worth undertaking,” says McCarten. “At first, I wasn’t sure there was a fresh, untold story of Whitney to be had, but the next day, Clive showed me a video of Whitney performing the ‘Impossible Medley,’ and I saw what the movie could be.”
McCarten was, of course, astounded to be reminded of the master class in voice control that is Houston’s performance at the 1994 AMAs. But he was concerned about presenting Houston’s story as a biopic. Isn’t Whitney Houston’s story a tragedy? But after a second meeting with Davis, McCarten turned his thinking around. “If we only judge artists by how long they live, Shakespeare’s life is a tragedy,” McCarten says. “Whitney’s life is a triumph. She gave us these extraordinary moments, these great performances. That story has not been told.”
And if there is a theme that runs through Houston’s work – a theme that provides a natural narrative arc for the film – it is the idea of the search for family, the search for home, the yearning for the deep connection that comes with love and affection – the Whitney Houston who deeply wanted to dance with somebody who loved her. “She’s just a girl from the neighborhood who wants to be loved, wants to have a home, wants to have people who care about her and love her, and wants to share her talent with the world,” says producer Jeff Kalligheri. That’s what we hear in her music, and that’s what she’s searching for in her life.”