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Zendaya “No Longer Involved” in Lifetime Aaliyah Biopic. Project Put On Hold. Why?

Zendaya "No Longer Involved" in Lifetime Aaliyah Biopic. Project Put On Hold. Why?

The above tweet, as you can see, comes from Lifetime’s PR department, posted earlier this afternoon. There was no follow-up tweet, giving reasons for Zendaya’s departure, so we’re left to speculate.

It was just 2 weeks ago when the announcement of Zendaya’s casting was made, so this seems a bit sudden. The 17-year-old may have also been partly influenced by some of the criticism the project has received since her casting was announced 2 weeks ago; specifically, Aaliyah’s family has been vocal about their opposition to a small screen adaptation for Aaliyah’s story, wanting a feature film made for the big screen instead, with *name* actors.

“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie… This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story,” said Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label, Blackground Records.

The family is also outraged because they were not consulted for the film, and they promised to block Lifetime from acquiring any rights to Aaliyah’s songs. 

Furthermore, news of Zendaya’s casting was met with some social media backlash, prompting the teen star to reply on Twitter, stating: “I’m just a 17 year old girl who got cast to play one of her biggest inspirations… She’s been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter (than) ever, all I wanna do is honor her… she’s beautiful inside and there will never be another Aaliyah, I just hope to share her beautiful story, and make her proud up in heaven.”

I can only assume that Aaliyah’s family’s vehement and vocal opposition to the project, as well as backlash from fans of Aaliyah, over her casting, were of influence on decisions made here.

And so now the project is on hold; which could mean, in the end, it never gets made. 

Based on the bestseller “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman” by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley, the Lifetime Original Movie was to be filmed this summer to be premiered in the Fall.

Howard Braunstein (“The Informant!”) and Debra Martin Chase (“The Princess Diaries,” “Sparkle”) were serving as executive producers.  

Bradley Walsh (“Turn the Beat Around”) was to direct from a script written by Michael Elliot (“Brown Sugar”).

RELATED: At Your Best: The Cinematic Potential of Aaliyah’s Life and Music

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I am coming on you show I am so so happy


Zendaya I love you




I doubt social media chatter would be enough to change anyone's mind. If you're an artist and you care that deeply about what others think, then you've got problems.
As for the family wanting a 'name' for a bio-pic, there have been some bio-pics that featured virtual unknowns in the role– James Dean played by James Franco and that Elvis movie with Jonathan Rhys Meyers immediately come to mind. Then again, those were TV movies but they still rated very well and I believe garnered awards for the movies as well as the actors.
TV need not be a 'step down' from films. It's more concerning if the story is not there in the screenplay, which makes me wonder if this is at all a possibility.


IMO, the brouhaha over the casting of Zendaya is a front–it's the R. KELLY STUFF that they don't want touched/relived/revisited. AT. ALL.


Talent had nothing to do with this decision. "Z" has proven her ability time and again. This is nothing but pure Black Racism in action. This country has deteriorated to the point where just being Black isn't enough … one has to be VERY BLACK. It's disgusting.


Hey I have a question I just found out about this, I was to young to really know Aaliyahs career but How is R. Kelly not in jail they had a relationship he was like 27 and she was 15..He was a mentor so clearly he took advantage and we all know the dude is kinda sick in the bedroom..Anyone??? if this was a teacher and student he would be in jail getting beat down…if I walk into a store and walk out with some clothes I am going to jail but this dude can fondle minors??? Shame on you America..and I do not care what the age of consent is in your state that's like messing with the batter before the cookies are baked if you agree with their relationship you deserve to be in jail as well..Rapist


+LBA Selena the Latin singer was 23 when she died and there was a movie made about her life and career starring Jennifer Lopez! Why can't Aaliyah have a big screen movie made about her life? Either independent or big budget. The infighting within the family will only make things worse. As far as TLC is concerned, I thought they deserved a LOT better than VH1. If they are going to do a T.V movie at least do it with HBO because they have CLASS!


With all due respect to the Aaliyah's family, she was only 22. She had just barely began to live. I don't see how you would make an interesting 2 hour long, Tina Turner-like, movie about her life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing her. I was a huge fan of hers. I used to rewind and play my "Back & Forth" cassette single over and over when I was like 12 years old. But the way I look at it, if TLC only got a VH1 movie, then why would 22 yr old Aaliyah get a big screen movie?


Amicus What don't you and other ppl understand ? Her immediate family doesn't want a film done at all whether it's studio or tv. Her uncle and his son are the ones wanting this


I think that project is deader than dead! No studio will want to be involved in the mess between the family and the owners of her music masters.
Also, how much of a success would it be for Hollywood financial backers, we are surely not talking blockbuster, so even if a Studio would get involved in that family drama they would expose themselves to the cost of a B grade movie. It is so no viable that if you notice even Tyler Perry or Will Smith (Overbrook) are not showing any interest.

A TV movie as was planned was the smartest way to go, then IF there was strong public interest, investors would be begging to make it a Silver Screen project.


A gossip rag is saying Rihanna wants the part and is working with the producers.

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