Wendy Williams isn't letting the haters get her down. As the executive producer of Lifetime's controversial Aaliyah biopic, which premiered on Nov. 15 to much disdain from fans and friends of the late singer, Williams has been inundated with criticism in recent weeks. But she stands by the made-for-TV movie.
"As a black woman, I was proud to show that Aaliyah came from a two-parent family, which many of us don't," the comedian, 50, told the Associated Press in an interview on Monday, Nov. 17.
The movie, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, starred Nickelodeon actress Alexandra Shipp in the title role. Fans objected to Shipp's casting from the very start, as well as to the film's portrayal of R. Kelly (Cle Bennett). (R. Kelly married the young star when she was 15 and he was 27.)
Williams, for one, thought the Lifetime flick "painted R. Kelly...in a more tasteful light than perhaps others would." She also said "it was extremely tasteful not to show [Aaliyah] going down in a fiery wreck." (The "Are You That Somebody" singer died at age 22 in an August 2001 plane crash. In the movie, she's driving off to the airport when the screen cuts to a title card explaining her death.)
"I think when you do a movie about people's favorite, whoever that favorite is, people are always going to have some criticism," she told the AP. "You really can't win for losing, kind of sort of."
She also addressed the backlash on her self-titled daytime talk show. "I see my Aaliyah movie broke the Internet this weekend," Williams quipped during Monday's "Hot Topics" segment. "Everybody's got an opinion."
Those opinions didn't stop them from tuning in, though. "I must tell you — whether you loved or hated [it], you watched," she boasted. "It was the second highest-rated movie on all of cable this year so far. Not just Lifetime, but all of cable."
Indeed, according to TV by the Numbers, the movie drew 3.2 million viewers in its world premiere. Not among them? Aaliyah friend and collaborator Timbaland, who publicly shamed the film on social media. "A lot of people keep asking me, am I watching that bulls--t?" he said in an Instagram video. "Evidently not. No way. Not Timbo."
He also took aim at Williams, sharing a meme reading, "Wendy Williams, you know you f---ed up, right?"