I actually got to meet Whitney Houston. I must admit it was pretty darn cool. This was back in the day when I was working for another entertainment news show and we were invited to the set of “Waiting to Exhale,” which was shooting in Phoenix. A reporter and I flew in and drove to what felt like the middle of nowhere to a lake for a scene they were filming.
We did not see Whitney, who was in her trailer.
In the meantime, we interviewed the film’s director, Forest Whitaker. No sign of Whitney yet, so one-by-one we interviewed the other ladies in the film. Angela Bassett. Loretta Devine. Lela Rochon.
Then we waited some more. By now, hours had passed. It was very dark and very late and we were freezing out in the middle of the woods. Still no Whitney.
We’ve flown into town and we’ve hired a crew…so costs were becoming an issue…for both us and the film crew, who was waiting for her as well, so they could shoot that day’s scenes.
Many discussions went back and forth between the unit publicist, producers, etc. trying to figure out what to do.
After many hours of ‘Waiting’ for Whitney… the shoot was cancelled and off we went back to Los Angeles — empty-handed as far as having a single frame of Whitney footage.
We were invited back for another set visit. The same reporter and I made the trip again three weeks later. This time they were shooting in the suburbs of Phoenix in the neighborhood and home of Whitney’s character, Savannah Jackson.
We arrive on location and set up to interview Whitney. No waiting for hours this time. There she is… in all her glamorous glory. She looks fantastic. The beautiful, the talented, the gorgeous Whitney Houston is in top form on this day. And it’s true — she’s every cliché you’ve ever heard about her — she has that presence, the “it” factor. She works her charm on us. There’s just something about her.
She makes a point to directly address our crew and thank us for coming. She looks at me and says hi and smiles that famous megawatt smile that lights up everything and all is forgiven. She has that kind of effect on us. She is a total professional giving us a great interview and letting us shoot her filming her scenes. This is the Whitney we waited for, this is the Whitney we came for, this is the Whitney we want to see.
And now that Whitney is gone. Such a shame. Such a loss.
-By Ryan Patterson