June 29, 2014 1:12pm PT by THR Staff
Lifetime's Aaliyah Biopic 'On Hold,' Star Zendaya Coleman Exits
Weeks after unveiling a planned Aaliyah biopic, star Zendaya Coleman has exited the Lifetime project.
"We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold," Lifetime wrote in a statement posted on its Twitter account on Sunday. A network rep did not comment further.
Coleman, a Disney Channel star, was cast in the lead role as the R&B singer. The actress and singer was to record four of the songs that would've appeared in the movie.
The project, titled Aaliyah:Princess of R&B, was to begin filming over the summer with a fall premiere date planned. The script for the biopic was based on a book Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, by Christopher Farley.
After the announcement by Lifetime of the biopic on June 16, the family of Aaliyah pushed back against the project in multiple reports.
Lifetime "didn’t reach out," Aaliyah's cousin Jomo Hankerson told The New York Daily News in a June 24 story. He added that the family was seeing a lawyer about rights issues.
"We want a major studio release along the lines of ‘What's Love Got to Do with It,’ the Tina Turner movie," Hankerson explained to the paper.
The project's executive producer Debra Martin Chase stated that the project aimed to "honor the legacy" of the bestselling singer, who died in a plane crash in 2001.
"This film will provide a heartfelt look at Aaliyah’s extraordinary and all-too-short life journey that we hope will provide inspiration to an entirely new generation," Chase told Billboard. "Aaliyah is beloved for her artistic grace and her wonderful spirit, and I’m looking forward to producing this film that will honor her legacy."