Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston is Dead

We interrupt your weekend to bring you some sad news. "The Voice" is gone. Superstar Whitney Houston died this afternoon in Los Angeles inside room 434 at the Beverly Hilton hotel. She was 48. Details surrounding her death are still not known, but we're sure as the days go by, a detailed picture of what happened will be revealed. With more than 170 million albums sold, she's one of the world's top selling artists. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin. She first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform. In 1992 she married Bobby Brown; they had one child, Bobbi Kristina (who has her battles with drugs), together. Whitney was rumored to be suffering from emphysema (a deadly lung disease) and doctors warned her she will die "an horrible death" if she doesn't stop smoking. As an aside, the National Enquirer reported this week that the legendary singer -- who's battled alcohol and drug addiction for years and recently checked into rehab for a third time after several failed attempts by her family and friends to get her help -- collapsed while leaving a doctor's office in Beverly Hills on Feb. 2. We didn't find that report all that interesting, but in the light of her death, it certainly shed some light on what has been happening with her over the last few weeks. The report also claimed she was on the brink of bankruptcy. In the final days of her life, she was seen partying with ex-boyfriend(?) Ray J, who himself is rumored to be regularly "coked up." May she rest in peace. (Sidebar: On Friday we posted the video of what will now go down in the history books as her final recorded performance.)

These are photos of the Whitney being escorted out of Tru Hollywood nightclub Thursday night. She appears to have blood dripping down her leg and scratches on her wrist. (There are reports she got into a "fight" with X factor contestant, 42-year-old Stacy Francis over Ray J. The folks over at RadarOnline say Ray J and Stacy were having a conversation when Whitney flew into a jealous rage. “She ran over to them and began screaming, ‘This is my man! I’m a cougar! B*tch, get away from my man,’” a source said. WHAT?!!!!! Ray J calmed down Whitney by telling her Stacy was just a friend.)

Despite all of Whitney's music, awards and acting accolades, nothing was iconic as her infamous interview with Wendy. [Three parts.]

UPDATE: The folks over at TMZ are reporting that Whitney was found at 3:43pm in the bathtub of her hotel room by a member of her entourage. It's believed she drowned. There were no alcohol or illicit drugs in the room when cops arrived, but they did find several prescription drugs. (RadarOnline says Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax and a sleeping medication that was found in her hotel room. Lorazepam, by the way, contributed to the deaths of Anna Nicole and Michael Jackson.) She was prounched dead at 3:55pm. While there were no signs of foul play, cops are investigating to determine the cause of death. After more than 8 hours, her body was moved from the hotel room to the LA morgue. In addition to the Feb. 2 collapse after leaving a Beverly Hills doctor's office, she was also seen visiting the same medical building on Feb. 7 and on Feb. 10, which is the night she was seen leaving Tru nightclub.

Here's her body leaving the hotel room.

Hours after her death, Whitney's ex-husband Bobbbaaaaaaaay Brown, broke down and had to leave the stage during a concert in Southaven, Mississippi with New Edition.

UPDATE #2: TMZ's sources say Whitney was taking a bath in preparation for Clive Davis' big pre-Grammy party, but when she was in the bathroom for more than an hour, her glam squad became concerned. A female hairstylist knocked on the bathroom door, but when there was no answer she went in and found the singer's head under water (her legs were up). She screamed and one of the bodyguards, whose name is Ray (no, not Ray J), ran in and pulled her out of the tub. Whitney took Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, before performances.

UPDATE #3: Bobbi Kristina Brown was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles this afternoon. Summon the prayer circle. According to RadarOnline, this was Bobbi Kris' second hospitalization in 12 hours. The 18-year-old was hospitalized shortly after midnight when she tried to dull the pain of losing her mother by drinking. "She tried to ease the pain of losing her mother by having a few alcoholic drinks," a source said. "She was distraught, on the verge of a complete breakdown. Not knowing what to do, members of her mother's entourage tried to calm her down with a sedative. The two were an unfortunate mix and she ended up passing out." The cause of her hospitalization this afternoon is not yet known.

UPDATE #4: The autopsy was completed Sunday, but results have been placed on a security hold. The last time they did that, it was the Michael Jackson death investigation, so this case could be just as explosive. (Do we have another Conrad Murray on our hands? This is Beverly Hills, so probably.) A toxicology report is also being conducted. The results of which won't be known for 6-8 weeks.

UPDATE # 5: This week will be Whitney all the time on TV. As it should! BET's 106 & Park will present a special three-hour episode on Monday at 6pm. Then at 9pm, tune in to Lifetime to watch the iconic 1992 film The Bodyguard . VH1 will air the VH1 News Special: Whitney Houston: Death of a Diva featuring updates and reaction from the music industry on Monday at 9:30pm. Next week's special 100 Greatest Women in Music will include a tribute and the new special VH1 News Presents Whitney Houston's Greatest Moments on Thursday at 11pm. And, on Thursday at 9pm, OWN will re-air the two-hour special Remembering Whitney: The Oprah Interview of -- the late singer's Sept. 2009 interview with Oprah in which she admitted to smoking crack laced with weed and her abusive relationship with Bobbbaaaaayyyy!

UPDATE #6: The latest word from "sources" is that Whitney died from an overdose of pills (mixed with alcohol) not from drowning. The coroner is reportedly telling the family the singer died before her head submerged under water. LA County Assistant Chief Coroner Chief Ed Winter is personally going to ALL of Whitney's doctors' offices to get copies of her medical records. It's about to go down!

UPDATE # 7: Reginald Dowdley, who did Whitney's hair and makeup for the club Thursday night, says the singer was in good spirits and told him "how great life was, how happy she was."

UPDATE # 8: According to reports, Sparkle, the last film Whitney made, will be released early. But here's an interesting tidbit: A cast member (OK, an extra named Elijah Conner) tells Detroit's WDIV as the last scenes of the movie were being shot, the production ran out of cash and Whitney wrote a $2 million check to get the film completed.

UPDATE #9: On her show this morning, Wendy breaks down while talking about the passing of Whitney.

UPDATE #10: Whitney's funeral (public memorial?) has been tentatively scheduled for Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The family has not yet disclosed the funeral plans other than to say it will be in Newark, where Houston was born. The arena, which seats more than 18,500 people, represents the largest indoor venue in Newark and could accommodate far greater crowds than the New Hope Baptist Church, where late singer's attended as a child.

UPDATE # 11: Robyn Crawford, rumored to be one of Whitney's lesbian lovers, penned an open letter in Esquire magazine.

I met her when she was 16. It was at a summer job. I was working at a community center in East Orange, New Jersey, and she was working just like the rest of us. She was there to work. She introduced herself as "Whitney Elizabeth Houston," and I knew right away she was special. Not a lot of people introduced themselves with their middle names back then. She had peachy colored skin and she didn't look like anyone I'd ever met in East Orange, New Jersey.

She was nothing like the Whitney Houston she became but at the same time she was already there. She knew, and so did everyone around her. She was doing shows in Manhattan with her mother, and she'd change her clothes in the car and get on stage and do her thing. She hadn't signed her contract yet. But she was modeling for Wilhelmina because she was discovered on the street. She was walking in front of Carnegie Hall and someone walked up to her and said, "There's a modeling agency upstairs that's looking for someone just like you." She walked upstairs and they signed her. That's what it was like, that's what she gave off. She looked like an angel. When my mother first met her, she laughed and said, "You look like an angel, but I know you're not." And she wasn't. But she looked like one.

She chose the life she lived, and she chose it from the beginning. She knew the life better than anyone. Her mother was Cissy Houston, and she had been on the road with Dionne Warwick. She got her chops singing in church, and her mother said to her, "You know, you can always sing for free. You can always sing in church. You don't have to choose the professional life." But she chose because she'd been chosen. Some people sing just because. She was never like that. She had to put on her gear. She knew it was going to be a job and that's how she treated it. Once she committed to something, she finished it. Not long after I met her, she said, "Stick with me, and I'll take you around the world." She always knew where she was headed.

And we went around the world. I was her assistant and then her executive assistant and then her creative director. I was her point person for the day-to-day. I traveled all around the world first-class and anyone who ever worked for her will tell you her checks never bounced. You knew she was going to take care of you. She wasn't going to be in a five-star hotel while you were in a two. I flew the Concorde the way some people ride the bus. She shared the fruits, and she changed a lot of lives. The record company, the band members, her family, her friends, me — she fed everybody. Deep down inside that's what made her tired.

It was never easy. She never left anything undone. But it was hard. The Bodyguard was great when it was done, but it was a lot of work. She did the movie, she did the music, she did everything — and when she was done, she was done. She nailed it. The music supervisor brought her Linda Ronstadt's version of "I Will Always Love You" way before Kevin Costner brought Dolly Parton's version — and she always knew what she could do with it. So when Kevin came in and played it for her and told her he wanted her to sing it for the movie, she said, "Fine." She wasn't much for showing off what she had, except when she had to.

I always compare her performance of that song with a great athlete hitting his peak — with Michael Jordan in the playoffs. It was the absolute pinnacle of what she could do, of what anyone could do — and then she had to keep on doing it. Everybody wanted to hear her sing that song, and so she sang it. It didn't matter whether she had a cold, or wasn't in good voice; she had to deliver it, and she had it arranged so she could deliver every last note. And even if the note wasn't there, the feeling was. A lot of her songs were like that. They were a lot to deliver, but she delivered them every note, every time.

It's so strange that she died when she did. February was her month. Her first album was released on Valentine's Day, right around the time of the Grammys, right around the time of Clive Davis's party. It was an orchestrated thing. She was Clive's girl, his great discovery. And she died right before Valentine's Day, right before the Grammys, right before Clive's party. Of course, she was going. I don't know if she was singing, I don't know what kind of pressure she was putting on herself. But she was going, that's for damned sure.

People thought they had to protect her. She hated that. And that's what people don't understand: She was always the one doing the driving. Someone just called and told me that the family kept Whitney from seeing her. Nobody kept Whitney from doing anything. She did what she wanted to do. When people left her or were told to leave, they could never believe that Whitney would never call them — but she never did. She was working hard to keep herself together, and I think she felt that if she admitted any feeling of sadness or weakness she would crumble. One time, back when we were young, we were out, we were partying, and I said, "Listen, I have to go. I'm tired. I can't make it." And she looked at me with her eyes wide and said, "I've got to make it."

And that was Whitney. She could not pick up the phone, and that meant it was too painful. I have never spoken about her until now. And she knew I wouldn't. She was a loyal friend, and she knew I was never going to be disloyal to her. I was never going to betray her. Now I can't believe that I'm never going to hug her or hear her laughter again. I loved her laughter, and that's what I miss most, that's what I miss already.

I'm trying not to think of the end. I'm trying not to listen to all the reports. All these people talking about drugs — well, a lot of people take drugs, and they're still around. Whitney isn't, because you never know the way the wind blows. I just hope that she wasn't in pain and that she hadn't lost hope. She gave so much to so many people; I hope that she felt loved in return. She was the action, for such a long time. She's out of the action now. I hope she can finally rest.

UPDATE # 12: Hell to the No! According to the folks over at RadarOnline, The Beverly Hilton Hotel management and security asked the Los Angeles County Coroner to not remove Whitney's body from the hotel room she died in, until after the Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party had concluded. "Out of respect for Whitney Houston, the higher ups at the Beverly Hilton asked the Coroner to delay removing her body until after the party was over and winding down. It would be insensitive for the van to be driven out with her body as limos were pulling away with the A-list guests. There were also security concerns and all efforts were made so that the media or someone else wouldn’t get a picture of Whitney's body (which was covered) being loaded into the van," a source said. The body wasn't removed from the room until 8 hours after her death.

UPDATE # 13: At a concert in Charlotte, NC Monday night, Aretha Franklin paid tribute to her goddaughter.

UPDATE # 14: Whitney's body has arrived in Newark. Funeral arrangements are reportedly being handled by Whigham Funeral Home, which handled the 2003 funeral of Whitney's father.

UPDATE #15: The family has opted for a intimate funeral on Saturday at noon at New Hope Baptist Church. It's by invitation only.

UPDATE #16: The director of the funeral home taking care of Whitney's final affairs, held a press conference calling for the press to respect the singer's privacy. BUT. AND HOWEVER, WE ARE SO DISTRACTED AND STUMPED: Is this a man or woman?

UPDATE #17: Stacy Francis tells the Mirror more details what happened that night at the nightclub. “[Whitney] was out of control,” shocked Stacy says. “She put her hand in my face. She was screaming at me and called me a bitch. She just went crazy – like Jekyll and Hyde. I turned to look at her and she pushed my forehead and turned my face away. I grabbed her hand and said, ‘Please don’t do this. You’re everything to me. You’re my idol, you’re a legend.’ I was crying and screaming out, we were both screaming until eventually we were pulled apart....[Ray J] had come over to me when he got there and he hugged me and said congratulations on the X Factor. He had known me for about 20 years and he was happy for me being on such a big show. But I don’t think Whitney understood. I was with a date. It wasn’t what she thought, but then Ray’s friend stepped between us and I heard Ray telling Whitney that I was a friend of the family. It was really cramped by the stage and at one point I was so close to Whitney that our bodies were touching. The tips of her hair were all wet with sweat. I didn’t really understand what was happening when things suddenly changed.” She adds Whitney was drinking champagne and tequila. Stacy said: “It all went very wrong when she put her hand in my face and pushed my forehead. I was emotional and I was crying and screaming and she was screaming. It felt like an eternity but was probably about 15 to 20 minutes. At one point I wouldn’t look at her, I was wondering where this was all going. She was talking to Ray and he was trying to calm her down. I saw him shaking his head. I don’t know what they were saying to each other that made it shift. We were only a few feet apart and she was waving her hands in my face. She was saying to me, ‘What am I misunderstanding? You going to live or what? You accept my apology? Am I apologizing to you or are you apologizing to me?”....I felt OK about what happened because I didn’t fight her. I did say to her, ‘I love you.’” DRAMA!!!!!!!!! Before their blow-up, Stacy says Whitney told her she was approached by Simon Cowell to join the judging table at The X Factor, and she was seriously considering it.

UPDATE # 18: TMZ is reporting that the Houston family (read: Cissy Houston) has not officially invited Bobbbbbbaaaaaaaaaay Brown to Whitney's funeral. Furthermore, Cissy has prevented Bobby from seeing his daughter, Bobbi Kristina. He's made several calls and made attempts to see her, but was denied. Instead, Bobbi Kris is reportedly being cared for by Whitney's family and friends at a home in Los Angeles. DRAMA! Update: Bobby is officially invited.

UPDATE #19: The Enquirer paid Tina Brown, Bobby Brown's crackhead sister, and she started spilling tea (most of it sad yet hilarious) about her days smoking crack with Whitney. She says she first did drugs with Whitney on Feb. 21, 2004 (she remembers the exact date because her birthday is Feb. 20) while Bobby was in jail. Anyway, they embarked in a 24-hour drug binge and she says Whitney would imagine demons attacking her and thought she was under surveillance. (She would even dissembled items, looking for concealed cameras.) Tina relived a day in March 2004 to take her to rehab. After catching her doing crack, Cissy told Whitney she either get clean, or she'd take Bobbi Kris away or have her locked up. But Whitney, according to Tina, wasn't having none of it.

"Whitney tried to jump out of the window, her bedroom window on the second floor," said Tina. :She has her white bag and on of er over over the window, She;s screaming, 'Tina, don't you leave me. Catch my bag.' I said, 'Nip, don't jump. Come on, there's nowhere you can go.'" Whitney went back inside as the convoy took Tina and Bobbi Kristina to the hotel. Rooms had been reserved. As Tina waited, her cell phone rang. It was Whitney in a total panic. "I'm running down the street. Hold on, hold on." Whitney had escaped from the house. Tina next heard Whitney talking to "this guy in a car, asking him for a ride. I said, 'Nip do not get in his car, do not get in his car.'" Whitney didn't listen. She got in trek car and introduced herself to the stunned driver, Somehow he delivered Whitney to the hotel. "She came in. She was filthy. She was screaming, 'What room? What room?' Everybody's looking. I had to give the reservations clerk some money and tell her, 'You don't see anything.'"....They got high all day long. Before they fell off to sleep, the two were laughing so hard about Whitney's antics, the singer peed herself. Tina explained that one of her older children is handicapped and used pull-up diapers. She had a pair in her purse. Whitney found them and put them on. That's when the laughter stopped. Tina saw something that frightened her to the bone -- blackened blue bruises. Tina cried out: 'Nip, what the hell!" Whitney's answers frightened Tina even more. "The devil be hitting me," said Whitney. "I walked by and he just go bam." Tina said: "'No, Nip That's not the devil, that's you.' I mean there was black blue all up and down her legs. I said, 'Does Bobby know this?' She said, 'No, no, it's going to be all right. You know I rebuke the devil. he's always hitting me.' But its her hitting herself." In the morning, Whitney's family saw the bruises, too. "All kinds of psychiatrists came up to the hotel room. And she went off with them, It was a big thing about the bruises." At the end of that bizarre intervention, Whitney reluctantly agreed to go into outpatient rehab at a caber in Smyrna, Ga., but only if Tina went with her. Whitney would smoke crack before the sessions. "It was a joke," Tina said. The doctors there, they were just like so hyped on just seeing Whitney. She used to just talk, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm not giving you no pee today. I don't have any.'" Tina ultimately moved into Whitney's house, acting in a sort of maid's capacity after Bobby got out of jail. The drug deliveries continued. .....[Tina was arrested and went to jail.]......


With Tina in jail, Whitney started to disappear for days at a time, sometimes doing drugs with friend, but other times visiting crack houses in dangerous areas of Atlanta. From jail, Tina remembers calling her mom, Carole Brown. Her mother was weeping. "A drug dealer had called Bobby and said, 'Come get your wife. I'm sick of this bitch. She's here peeping out the windows and doing all kinds of s---- in the house.'" Tina learned Whitney had been in the drug den for days giving orders to dealer and drug buyers, telling some to leave, telling others where to sit, seeing demons, thinking she was under surveillance. It became too much for the dealer. "Bobby and security had to go get her," Tina said. When Tina was released from prison on June 3, 2005, she was drug-0free but that ended July 5, the first time she over to Whitney's house.

sources: AP | National Enquirer | TMZ | RadarOnline | Esquire | Mirror
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