Things got awkward at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, the swank hotel where Whitney Houston died in 2012, when reporters began to press Bobby Brown about details of his life that may or may not be in The Bobby Brown Story on BET in September. What started out as solemn, reverent discussion of his life story — growing up in the hard streets of Boston, stardom, drugs and of course the death of his ex and their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown — took a turn for the uncomfortable as hell when Brown was asked first if he was "creeped out" being in the hotel that Houston overdosed in, and then, a few minutes later, about a domestic abuse 9-1-1 call at his house where Houston had visual signs of assault.
To the first question, he said, "it feels good to be here, to promote this movie," he said. He was wearing reflective sunglasses, a dark blue shirt, white jeans and white Air Force Ones. "To be able to smile, to be here with my wife and my kids. We just came from Hawaii."
While he sounded like he made peace with being in the same space his legendary ex died, his grip of information on public record seemed less steady. When asked about a 2003 call to their home, the already hushed room got, uh, hush-ier as Brown denied that ever happened. Even when a second reporter confronted his denial by reading a news story from the time out loud, Brown held firm. "The public record is wrong," he said, stunning the professional journalists in the room into another layer of silence.
His denial was ironic, given that he'd spent the previous 20 or so minutes saying that The Bobby Brown Story was created to counter negative press he's gotten over the years. In the Whitney-Bobby mythology, Brown has consistently been painted as a bad boy who introduced Whitney Houston to drugs and steered her away from her glory into the hot mess spotlighted on Being Bobby Brown. "I feel the press basically got the wrong impression of me, the wrong impression of our relationship. What me and Whitney went through was what we went through. People don't understand the stories that's been told about me are untrue. I'm able to tell my story. We did this to tell my side of this story."
The Bobby Brown Story, told in two parts, will delve into the more tragic elements of his story in the second half, chronicling the unimaginable grief of losing his former partner and child back-to-back. Played by Woody McClain in the film, Brown said he couldn't be in the room watching scenes in which Bobbi Kristina appeared; Gabrielle Denise, who plays Whitney, said she sobbed during the first table read.
"I'm still healing," he said. "I don't think I'll ever get over it. It's a day-to-day thing. I think about (Bobbi) every day."
As the panel started to wind down, executive vice president of BET programming Connie Orlando said Brown and the rest of the cast would be available to talk with reporters on stage for five minutes — custom for the TCA press tour. But as discomfort hung in the room like smoke after he'd been grilled, she mysteriously got some notification that no, they wouldn't stay to answer more questions. The change wasn't surprising, given the tension in the room, but the swift shift, combined with Brown's admission that this film would be his version of the story, removed any doubt the The Bobby Brown Story would not be a no-holds-barred exposé along the likes of current hit film Whitney, but another mostly nostalgic chapter into the Whitney-Bobby mythology.
"It's just the life that I've lived," he said. "I've been through things, up and downs. Some of the things I'm not proud of," but he said it all made him the man he is today.
The Bobby Brown Story premieres Sept. 4 and 5 at 9 p.m. on BET.