Whitney Houston’s Too-Brief Life Explored in the Showtime Doc ‘Can I Be Me’

Whitney Houston, highlights
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Whitney Houston in 2004 at the World Music Awards

Over five years have passed since the tragic death of Whitney Houston, and now the late singer’s estate has agreed to participate in an authorized documentary about the superstar. But the tawdry Whitney: Can I Be Me is definitely not that film. “We didn’t want to give the Wikipedia version of her life,” says executive producer and Showtime senior VP Vinnie Malhotra. “We wanted to show the beautiful and the controversial elements.”

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There’s certainly plenty of material. Can I Be Me explores how Houston was compromised by puppet masters and hangers-on throughout her career, from her meteoric rise—when she reluctantly assumed the squeaky-clean pop-princess image invented by record execs—to the eventual descent into substance abuse that led to her bathtub drowning at age 48. Using a variety of footage, including never-before-seen backstage videos, the doc also sheds new light on her tempestuous marriage to R&B bad boy Bobby Brown, as well as a potential lesbian romance with her assistant Robyn Crawford. “It’s eye-opening,” says Malhotra. “A lot of people tried to hide a lot of things about Whitney.”

Whitney: Can I Be Me, Friday, Aug. 25, 9/8c, Showtime