I haven’t seen it; and have absolutely no plans to do so. Lifetime movies aren’t exactly made with someone like me in mind. But I’d like to think that film (“Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B”), which premiered on the network on Saturday night, does have an audience. Despite overwhelmingly negative reactions to it, from critics and fans like (reading tweets about the film, as it aired, might have been more entertaining), I’m sure some of you out there not only liked it, but maybe even absolutely loved it! Are you one of them? And if so, feel free to share in the comments section below.
It’s just so rare that any single film is near-universally hated (you’ll find countless images like the one above, and below, essentially condemning the film) – when the vast majority of audiences are actually in full agreement.
Timbaland certainly didn’t like it, and he has been quite vocal about it (he’s a character in the film, having worked with Aaliyah, producing the majority her second album “One in a Million”). Just take a look at his Twitter and Instagram pages for a sample of what he had to say about the movie. You’ll also find images like the one of the left, addressed to one of the film’s producers, talk-show host (and more) Wendy Williams.
By the way, I read that Williams was to address the backlash against the film on her talk show this morning. I don’t watch the show, but, thanks to a Google search, I learned that, while she did talk about the film this morning, she didn’t have much to say by way of an apology, if you were hoping for one. Come on, she’s Wendy Williams! She likely feeds on this kind of energy. Here’s what she said, verbatim: “I see my Aaliyah movie broke the Internet this weekend! Errbody got an opinion. Well, I must tell you, whether you loved or hate, you watched. It was the second-highest rated movie on all of cable this year so far.”
If it is the second-highest rated cable movie this year, so far, I haven’t been able to confirm that. Typically press releases are sent to the press on ratings, and grand proclamations like that, but, not only have we not received anything, I couldn’t find any mentions of this on any of the major industry trades (The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Variety, etc). Not that what she says isn’t true. I just haven’t been able to confirm elsewhere. Maybe Lifetime will make the official announcement later today. But if anyone has any links on this, please share, and I’ll update this post.
Williams also said that this is the biggest production she and her production company have done ever, and, while she considered a film on Aaliyah’s life made for theatrical release (which is what the late singer’s family wanted), as she stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “television shouldn’t be overlooked.” And, as an aside, in that same interview, she shared that, in December, she’ll be appearing in a new movie, playing a pastor (the movie is called “The Santa Con,” and it’s another Lifetime original). It’s about “a grifter who gets out of jail is looking for redemption and he wanders into my church. I play a nice Christian lady,” she added.
But back to the Aaliyah movie. I’ve read comments from some, saying that this will hurt star Alexander Shipp’s career. I really don’t think so. Not at all! In fact, from what others said, she actually did a good job with the material she was given to work with. But even if that wasn’t the case, one bad Lifetime movie does not a career destroy. Especially for an actress who’s still so young, and has many, many years ahead of her, and likely just as many film and TV roles. She landed 2 of them this year – remember, she also starred in VH1’s “Drumline” sequel. I’m sure Ms Shipp will be just fine. And I’m also sure that Lifetime movies will continue to suck! So why bother continuing to watch them? Until the network decides that it wants to rebrand itself, and put its mawkish, schmaltzy, melodramatic brand of programming behind it, expect more of the same.
BUT, as I said, there is an audience for the network, and thus for its many original movies, including Aaliyah’s, even though I had a difficult time finding people who actually liked or even loved the movie. So, if you’re one of them, if only to counter all the negativity and criticism of it, feel free to dive in, and share your reactions to the film in the comments section below.
You probably already read Jai’s review of it, published on Friday. If not, do so here. It traveled quite a bit.