Last Friday, the world learned that Whitney Houston would be resurrected via hologram in 2016 thanks to collaboration between Pat Houston, President of the Whitney Houston Estate, and Greek billionaire Alki David, CEO of Hologram USA. Speaking for the first time since last week's announcement, David now tells Billboard fans should expect the late singer's hologram to makes its debut in "about a year. We need to finalize the script [for the show]," he explains, before assuring it "should be a relatively smooth process."
David says the Whitney Houston hologram show will incorporate both "live components" drawing from the late singer's own live performances, "digital components, in the same way that Tupac and Snoop Dogg interacted onstage at Coachella," as well as a narrative structure. "The show will not just be Whitney comes on, sings and gets off," David adds. "The narrative will document parts of her life, her achievements and celebrate Whitney."
Negotiations between Pat Houston and David's Hologram USA have been ongoing for nearly two years, the notoriously outspoken billionaire explains. However, due to the relative short time since Whitney's passing, getting her estate to agree to the hologram show has been "a gradual process," David says. "Pat has been really professional and pragmatic but also she has clearly demonstrated her sensitivity over the past two years in the way in which she's engaged with us."
David, whose Hologram USA is involved in hologram shows of other deceased performers including Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Liberace, says achieving a sense of authenticity to the hologram performances is essential.
"These deals we make are really predicated on working really close with the estates," he insists. In the case of Houston, "the musical arrangement, the choreography right down to the lighting and the design will be done with the original artists and original technicians and composers who worked with Whitney in the past so as to maintain absolute authenticity."
A specific venue for the Whitney hologram's U.S. debut has yet to be finalized, but David says Hologram USA is principally invested in the one-venue residency business model, as with the one planned for jazz icon Billie Holiday at the Apollo Theater. He also specifically mentioned venues including Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre, Beverly Hills' Saban Theatre and the Andy Williams Theater in Branson, Missouri as potential sites for consideration.
The Whitney hologram show, which is planned to show internationally after its U.S. debut, will be exclusively streamed online via David's own FilmOn.com, and an exclusive TV deal has been inked with Ednemol, a Dutch-based media company, to broadcast the show via the airwaves. Additionally, David and Houston's estate have negotiated "the ability to take the images… of digital Whitney and incorporate her into sponsorship and advertising."
As for whether there was any hesitation to move forward with the Whitney hologram only a few years removed from her death, David, who has made headlines for his work with controversial rapper Chief Keef, says the standard of quality his company sets for its holograms is so high he's confident it will be done with the utmost taste and respect. Though he does concede, "I think it makes us more conscious of sensitivity."