Magic Johnson and Wife Attend ‘Whitney’ Premeire

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Magic Johnson and his wife of 11 years, Earlitha Kelly, were among the many that attended Lifetime’s screening of Whitney, a biopic based on the entertainer’s triumphant career, troubled life and tragic death in 2012.

While many gathered at The Paley Center located just blocks away from hotel where the 48-year-old singer drowned  nearly three years ago, Houston’s family and relatives were absent from the biopic debut.

“It was the family’s choice and decision, because of what they want to do and whatever their desires or their plans are, not to be involved in this one, but they didn’t have anything negative to say about it,” Angela Bassett said of her first feature-directing project. “You know, sometimes to be silent is the greatest gift.”

Nevertheless, without the family’s blessing, the production was prohibited from using Houston’s original recordings. Therefore, Bassett hired singer Deborah Cox, Houston’s one-time label mate, recording partner and long-time friend, to deliver a voice approximating Houston’s remarkable voice.

“I knew I would be judged,” Cox said, with a smile. “Everyone was going to come for me. Don’t. I come with love.”

Actress Yaya DaCosta, who took on the role of Houston in the biopic, was concerned about just one critic: Whitney Houston herself.

“When we were on set, that’s all I thought about: ‘I don’t really care what any living person thinks. I want to make her proud,'” DaCosta recalled. “And that, for me, is all I needed to be okay with this project.”

Actor Arlen Escarpeta stars as Bobby Brown in the film with Suzzanne Douglas as Cissy Houston and Yolanda Ross as Robyn Crawford.

The Lifetime premiere of Whitney debuts on the cable network on Jan. 17.

Until then, you can catch the trailer and check out photos from the film screening below:

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(Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)