CATEGORIES Movie NewsAfter Whitney Houston's death, how much time must pass to satisfy the requirements of decency and good taste before rampant speculation can begin over who will get to portray her in the inevitable biopic? Apparently, about two weeks.
The derby began in earnest with an article in Monday's Daily Mail claiming that Rihanna is on top of the short list of singers and actresses who may star in a Houston biography produced by her mentor and longtime champion, record mogul Clive Davis. Also on that list, according to the British newspaper: Vivica A. Fox, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, and Willow Smith (who, presumably, has a lock on the portion of the movie devoted to Houston's preteen years). But there are other actresses who've tried to throw their hats into the ring as well, including Meagan Good and Brandy.
Now, despite the thinly sourced Daily Mail article, it's not at all clear that a Houston biopic is actually happening, or that Davis is involved, or that any of these performers are actually in the running to play the late singer/actress. But, OK! As long as the Whitney-off is already underway, Moviefone will play along. Read our assessment of the would-be Whitneys below and tell us which of them, if any, you think should get to play the Greatest Role of All.
Rihanna Houston Connection: None, but she does know what it's like to be in a tumultuous relationship with a bad-boy R&B singer named Brown. Can she act? Who knows? We'll find out when 'Battleship' comes out in May. Can she sing? You bet. Does she have a shot? As good as anyone's. She's certainly a name who has a built-in fanbase that would buy tickets.
Vivica A. Fox Houston Connection: None, though the "Kill Bill" star spoke years ago about her interest in playing the singer on film. Can she act? Yes. Can she sing? Who knows? Does she have a shot? At age 47, just a year younger than Houston herself, it's less likely by the minute.
Jennifer Hudson Houston Connection: Sang the memorial tribute to Houston a couple weeks ago at the Grammys. Can she act? Yes, and she has the Oscar to prove it. Can she sing? Yes. Does she have a shot? Hudson may be the most qualified candidate; maybe that'll be enough to overcome the fact that she's not a box office brand name.
Jordin Sparks Houston Connection: Plays Houston's daughter in the upcoming "Sparkle." Can she act? We'll find out when "Sparkle" drops. Can she sing? Yes; just ask the millions of "American Idol" fans who voted her the champion a few seasons ago. Does she have a shot? She doesn't really resemble Houston, but if "Sparkle" succeeds, she could have the inside track.
Willow Smith Houston Connection: None, though she knows what it's like to grow up in the shadow of famous relatives. Can she act? She had bit parts in papa Will's "I Am Legend" and in "Kit Kittreedge: An American Girl." Can she sing? Well, she does know how to make irritatingly unforgettable pop hooks. Does she have a shot? It'll take more than having famous parents and the ability to whip her hair back and forth to play Houston as a child; still, there's no one else in the running.
Meagan Good Houston Connection: Says she was in talks with Houston in recent weeks about playing her in a movie. Can she act? Yes. Can she sing? Yes (assuming that's really her voice that's heard in her current role as an aspiring R&B star on "Californication"), but she says she'd lip-synch because it's really Houston's voice that people will want to hear. Does she have a shot? Yes, if you take her at her word, but Houston's wishes don't count for much at this point.
Lark Voorhies Houston Connection: Was mentioned years ago in connection with a possible Houston biopic. Can she act? Yes. Can she sing? Yes -- at least, she did a few times on "Saved by the Bell." Does she have a shot? Sure, as soon as hell freezes over, or as soon as casting directors forget that "Saved by the Bell" also gave us the gift that is Elizabeth Berkley, whichever comes first.
Brandy Houston Connection: Played Cinderella to Houston's Fairy Godmother in the TV adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical in 1997. Can she act? Yes. Can she sing? Yes. Does she have a shot? Hard to say; the "Moesha" star hasn't ever carried a feature film, and her last big movie role was 14 years ago in "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer."
Viola Davis Houston Connection: None, but we think "The Help" Oscar nominee can do pretty much anything, and we'd love to see her try. Can she act? Yes. Can she sing? We don't know, and we don't care. Does she have a shot? Well, like Vivica A. Fox, she's probably too old at 46, but she's a big star now, so maybe it wouldn't matter.
Nicki Minaj Houston Connection: Well, the late performer shared a name with the city that's home to NASA mission control, and Minaj seems to have spent a fair amount of time in outer space... Can she act? We'll find out in July when we hear her voice work in the animated "Ice Age: Continental Drift." Can she sing? Yes. Does she have a shot? Actually, no one's even thought about her for this role, but we bet millions would pay good money to see a scene where Minaj/Houston tries to exorcise her own demons.