‘Bobbi Kristina’ Biopic Drives Suit by Bobby Brown

TV One posted this family photo on its website to advertise the Oct. 8 premiere of its biopic “Bobbi Kristina,” a film about the daughter of superstars Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. (Courthouse News via TV One)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Weeks before the premiere of a made-for-TV movie about the deaths of Whitney Houston and her daughter, the producers face a federal defamation complaint from Bobby Brown.

Brown brought his lawsuit in the Southern District of New York almost a year to the day of his court win in Georgia against the man found legally responsible for the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only child of Brown and Houston’s troubled marriage.

Three years after Houston was found dead, submerged in a bathtub after consuming drugs, Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious in similar circumstances at her home in Roswell, Georgia.

The 22-year-old was kept in a medically induced coma for six months before her death in July 2015.

In his Sept. 7 complaint, Brown asks a federal judge to block the local New York broadcast station TV One from airing a film next month about the twin tragedies.

Claiming that the movie invades his privacy rights and defames him, Brown says it depicts him unjustly as being violent toward Houston and without love for their daughter.

A onetime member of the R&B group New Edition, Brown notes that TV One has not provided him with either a script or a screening.

He gleaned he was being defamed, however, from an unflattering depiction of him given in the casting call that producers posted in November 2016 to breakdownexpress.com.

“Bobby has moments of a healthy and joyful relationship with his family, but he’s a hard drug user and soon devolves into violence and abuse towards his wife,” the character bio states, as quoted in the complaint. “After Whitney’s death, Bobby moves on to another wife and children, and only briefly appears to have dinner with the devastated and needy Krissi, towards whom he is affectionate but noncommittal.”

In addition to TV One, which airs content on RCN Channel 125 and Verizon Channel 241, the complaint names as defendants Swirl Recording & Film, B2 Entertainment, Simmons Shelley Entertainment and the latter company’s owners, Tracey Baker-Simmons and Wanda Shelley.

Brown notes that B2 is the now-dissolved entity through which he worked with Shelley and Simmons on his short-lived reality series, “Being Bobby Brown,” which aired on Bravo in 2005.

“The defendants have taken information Simmons and Shelley obtained while working with RB on ‘Being Bobby Brown’ and have utilized the material in the film,” the complaint states, abbreviating the plaintiff’s name.

Brown meanwhile has a contract of his own with BET for a movie about his life. He says the unauthorized “Bobbi Kristina” film impairs his rights to publicity.

TV One meanwhile defended the film.

“While we are not able to address our legal response at this time, we stand by the film and its representation for this period in Bobbi Kristina’s life,” a spokeswoman for the network said in an email.

Brown wants damages and an injunction, alleging breach of contract, slander, libel, invasion of privacy and trademark violations of the Lanham Act.

“The depictions of RB are knowingly false and recklessly presented for the financial gain of the defendants,” the complaint states.

After his daughter’s death, Brown publicly accused Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend, Nick Gordon, of providing  a deadly cocktail of drugs as part of a scheme to obtain her inheritance. In September 2016, an Atlanta judge ordered Gordon to pay Brown $30 million in damages.

Gordon was arrested in Sanford, Florida, this past June on charges of beating and kidnapping his girlfriend.

The film “Bobbi Kristina” is scheduled to premiere on Oct. 8 with newcomer Joy Rovaris in the titular role. Directed by Ty Hodges, the film also stars Demetria McKinney (“Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”) as Houston, Hassan Johnson (“The Wire”) as Bobby Brown, Nadji Jeter (“Grown Ups”) as Nick Gordon and Vivica A. Fox (“Independence Day”) as Pat Houston, the late singer’s sister-in-law and manager.

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