The Lifetime network hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to its recently announced Aaliyah biopic. When the network made the announcement about the film, Aaliyah’s family immediately threatened legal action. In an interview with TMZ, Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager, said the family had already hired a lawyer and would block any attempt by Lifetime to use any of Aaliyah’s music, as well as to release the film. Then, shortly after it was announced that the leading role in the biopic was going to Disney actress Zendaya Coleman, Coleman backed out because of scheduling conflicts, though most suggest it was because of the backlash the actress received from the public.
Some people think the movie has been doomed from the start, but can a popular daytime talk show host swoop in and save the day?
Wendy Williams announced Friday morning that she is taking on the role of executive producer of the movie, tentatively titled Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. It’s based on the best-seller Aaliyah: More Than a Woman by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley.
On top of announcing her role as the executive producer, Williams also divulged who would now play the lead role, since Coleman is no longer involved: Alexandra Shipp. She is most notable for her role as K.T. Rush on the show House of Anubis and has also appeared on Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Switched at Birth and Victorious.
Production on the movie begins later this month, and people have already expressed their opinions about Williams being the top dog:
At the height of Aaliyah’s career and rumored marriage to R. Kelly, Williams didn’t bite her tongue when speaking about the pair on her radio show. It’ll be interesting to see what Aaliyah’s family has to say now. Aaliyah: Princess of R&B will air in the fall on the Lifetime network.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.