And three makes a trend: Lifetime announced today that Disney star Zendaya will play the late R&B star Aaliyah in a biopic about the singer, who died in a plane crash at age 22. Based on the bestseller Aaliyah: More Than A Woman by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley, Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B (wt), will be filmed this summer and premiere in the fall.
Three weeks ago, the network announced it had greenlighted a biopic on Whitney Houston, who died in 2012, at age 48, while prepping in the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel for a pre-Grammy party. Both Lifetime biopics about female R&B/pop singers who died young follow VH1′s October premiere of its gone-too-soon movie CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, detailing the fatal blow to TLC caused by the sudden death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes at 30. That one clocked a hefty 4.5 million viewers in its unveiling.
The new telepic follows Aaliyah’s journey from her Star Search debut at age 10 to being crowned Princess of R&B. On August 25, 2001, the singer and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for her single “Rock the Boat.” Aaliyah ranks No. 10 on Billboard’s most successful R&B artists of the past 25 years. Zendaya will record four of Aaliyah’s hit singles for the TV movie.
Zendaya will star in the upcoming Disney Channel series K.C. Undercover and the Disney Channel movie Zapped, which premieres this summer. She starred as Raquel “Rocky” Blue on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up! Zendaya also was runner-up on Season 16 of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. ABC, Disney Channel and Lifetime all are part of Disney.