The project is not sanctioned by Aaliyah’s estate
Disney starlet Zendaya has backed out of the upcoming Lifetime biopic, The Music Universe has learned.
On Sunday, Lifetime tweeted the news through its PR account.
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— Lifetime Publicity (@lifetimetvpr) June 29, 2014
The 17-year-old multi-talented singer and actress was set to star and perform as the late R&B singer. She was also tapped to record four of Aaliyah’s songs for the film, including many of her hit singles.
Based on the bestseller Aaliyah: More Than a Woman by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B (working title), the first movie about the beloved artist, was set to be filmed this summer and premiere on the cable network this fall.
Aaliyah’s family has recently expressed its concern for the size of the project.
“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie,” Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label Blackground Records, recently told the New York Daily News. “This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.”
Hankerson also states that Lifetime has never contacted them about the film.
“They didn’t reach out,” Hankerson claims. “I don’t know why they didn’t reach out.”
Hankerson said that the family has consulted a lawyer and will not allow “any of the music, or any of the photographs and videos that we own” to be used in the film.
No word on when or if production will resume or on a new release date.