Production on Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic entitled “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” has been put on hold after its star, Disney Channel singer and actress Zendaya Coleman (better known as simply Zendaya), has left the pic.
Lifetime announced the news through its PR Twitter account on Sunday.
We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold.
— Lifetime Publicity (@lifetimetvpr) June 29, 2014
The project was announced just earlier this month, with Zendaya set to star as the late R&B singer. It was slated to begin production in the summer to premiere in the fall.
Along with portraying the star, Zendaya was going to record four songs for the movie, based on book “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B” by former Time Magazine music editor Christopher Farley.
The project had garnered significant pushback from fans and family of Aaliyah in the past couple of weeks. Jomo Hankerson, Aaliyah’s cousin and president of her label Blackground Records, told the New York Daily News that they wanted a bigger release than what Lifetime could provide.
“We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie,” Hankerson said. “This needs A-list actors, A-list talent that can breathe life into what we think is a phenomenal story.”
Hankerson added that Zendaya’s casting had nothing to do with the family’s problems with the movie: “It’s never been about the actress. The problem that we have is that Aaliyah was an icon and she deserves an iconic tribute, not a Lifetime movie.”
With the pause in production, it’s unclear on where the premiere date will land for the telepic now.