Singer Bobby Brown and the estate of Bobbi Kristina Brown are suing Showtime and other distributors of an unauthorized 2017 documentary about Whitney Houston, that used more than half an hour of old footage of both Browns, plus his other children, without permission.
Brown is seeking at least US$2 million in damages. The parties are accused of distributing footage including some shot for the 2005 reality show "Being Bobby Brown”. Brown claims they are violating his privacy rights in pursuit of financial gain.
Whitney Houston drowned in a hotel bathtub at 48 years of age, with heart disease and cocaine use found to be contributing factors. Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died in 2015 at 22 from undetermined causes.
The film contains footage of over 30 minutes that Brown says he never consented to have released. The footage was actually recorded before the divorce in 2007 between Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. Brown says he never signed or executed a release for the airing of the material that appears in the film. The footage of Kristina Bobbi Brown was from when she was about 15 years old.
A producer had previously contacted Brown for an interview to be included in the documentary, but Brown did not agree to it. He claims the defendant knew of Brown’s desire not to be a part of their film, but they used his name, likeness and persona in the film without his consent.
Bobby Brown is no stranger to the court as he has been involved in lawsuits in recent years.
In 2015, he had a US$1.1 million lawsuit against the National Enquirer thrown out by a federal court judge. Brown sued the paper in 2013 over an article which he claimed defamed him after Whitney Houston's death. The parties settled out of court, but Brown continued his lawsuit against the writer of the article, Derrick Handspike. Brown wanted the court to order Handspike to pay up US$1.18 million dollars. He said he lost US$100,000 in contracts and offers due to the article. The other US$1 million comes from damages Brown estimated he would suffer in the future due to the article being printed.
But here's the rub: the case was eventually thrown out due to Bobby Brown's fault. It turns out Brown did not serve the complaint to Handspike at all. Furthermore, the judge did not believe Brown’s claim that the author was evading service due to Brown having no proof to back up his claim.
Handspike and Brown actually had a good working relationship before as Handspike spent a lot of time with Brown to write the 2009 book, "Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But…" But when controversial comments made by Brown about his ex-wife were leaked, he abruptly backed out of the project. Handspike finished the book without Brown.
Besides that, Brown sued TV One in 2017 to prevent them from airing a biopic on Bobbi Kristina. He lost the US$2 million case as the judge ruled in favor of TV One to air the movie. Brown was allegedly shown as a hard drug user who neglected and abused his daughter after the death of her mother.
Brown also named producers Tracey Baker-Simmons and Wanda Shelley in the suit and claims they’re using information they received from his 2004 reality show “Being Bobby Brown” without his permission.
Manhattan federal judge Analisa Torres said in the ruling: "Whether Bobby Brown was a bad father is a matter of opinion." She explained that Brown’s claims of defamation are “speculative” because he had not read the script nor seen the film. The judge also disagreed with Brown’s concerns about being portrayed as an abusive husband because he admitted to hitting Houston during one incident in their tumultuous marriage.