Atlanta power couple featured in Joel McHale's last 'Soup' clip

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Saturday, December 19, 2016

Joel McHale's "The Soup" on E! last night ended its 22-year run, including 12 years with McHale at the helm.

And the very final clip he aired is from Bravo's 2005 reality show "Being Bobby Brown," which was largely shot in Atlanta. The reality show lasted but one season. While the title mentions only Bobby, his then wife Whitney Houston made such a spectacle of herself, so much so she became more of the story than Bobby.

The way she yelled Bobby's name to her various catchphrases ("Hell to the no!") made for incredibly entertaining TV. (At the time, my former Peach Buzz colleague Richard Eldredge chronicled the show with morbid glee.) But their marriage was falling apart and when she refused to appear a second season, the show was cancelled.

McHale featured the couple frequently during his time on the "The Soup," which lost its mojo years ago when viewers began making GIFs and commenting on social media about crazy TV antics themselves.(This doesn't explain why "America's Funniest Home Videos" still survives.)

The very final clip he showed features Brown complaining about George W. Bush and Houston defending the president. And as a crescendo to the argument, she yells in that classic Houston way: "Kiss my a**!"

Back in 2005, this is what my colleague Eldredge wrote about "Being Bobby Brown":

RICHARD L. ELDREDGE
Desk:  Archive
Story Source:  Staff
Day:  Thursday
Dateline:   
Print Run Date:  8/25/2005
Digital Run Date:   
Text: 

When we first met in 1985, she was wearing a peach-colored draped goddess gown. Gazing out from the cover of her self-titled debut album, Whitney Houston looked luminous. Exotic. With her sensual stare, natural, close-cropped hair and a simple strand of pearls, she epitomized sophistication.And she had the voice to match, at once as old as a gospel hymn and as fresh as a pair of Pumas just out of the box.

And then 10 weeks ago, we met her again on her husband's reality show, " Being Bobby Brown , " which was shot over a period of months last year. This time she was wearing a cockeyed wig and a glazed expression, swearing at her husband and offering gross-out details about her sex life and bathroom habits.

Funny? Yes. Addictive? You bet. Everybody's using her catchphrase: "Hell to the no!" But will they buy another album once Bravo's must-see train wreck reaches its conclusion at 10 tonight?

"She doesn't really seem to care about what people think or necessarily care if her career continues, " says longtime Atlanta public relations specialist Meg Reggie, who has been glued to " Being Bobby Brown " this summer.

"I watch to count the 'Hell to the no's' and to see the two of them parent, " says Reggie. "She may have lost her older audience by [appearing in ' Being Bobby Brown ']. Maybe she can use the show as a springboard into an edgier style of music. But can she be that sophisticated woman in the evening gown singing 'The Greatest Love of All' after we've watched all that potty talk? Hell to the no."

Atlanta publicist Karen Canavan represented the Palm restaurant in Buckhead while the couple shot footage there in the spring of 2004. Canavan says that Houston's extreme honesty could spell a rough road ahead for the singer.

"Yes, people are talking, and she's back on the radar, but is this the right notoriety?" Canavan asks. "I talked to Bobby at the Palm just last week. He seems to really be enjoying doing the show. But it's obvious to me from watching the show that Whitney is very controlled by her husband."

Canavan also points to Houston's chief 1980s competitor, Mariah Carey, and her current Jermaine Dupri-produced No. 1 hit, "We Belong Together, " as a possible template for Houston.

"That song is very traditional Mariah, " says Canavan. "When in doubt, go back to what you do best."

V-103 DJ Ryan Cameron agrees that Dupri could put Houston back on the charts. Cameron is a huge fan of the show, provides episode updates on-air and regularly takes calls from listeners who watch.

"Jermaine has the ability to pull people out of their castles [to] live in his world for a while. He has the formula. I believe anything is possible with Whitney."

The chief architect behind Houston's original public image, Clive Davis, announced last year that the duo would reunite on her next studio project. Davis was on vacation this week and unavailable to comment for this article, according to a spokeswoman with BMG Music, parent company of Houston's record label.

Until then, Canavan suggests that the singer avoid another tabloid-tinged "Primetime Live" interview in favor of a star-friendly stint on "Today" or "Good Morning America." A self-spoofing "Saturday Night Live" booking, a la Paula Abdul and Paris Hilton, might also help, she says.

Kent Matlock, of the Atlanta advertising and public relations firm Matlock and Associates, says that Houston should also focus on her core audience.

"I would guess that a large percentage of the people tuning in to laugh at her on this reality show are younger people, " he says. "They don't have the same frame of reference. They didn't fall in love to her music. She didn't tell their story. She told ours. Her love songs spoke to us. If you've emotionally enriched people's lives like she has, people can forgive you and overlook your madness.

"If she still has those pipes, Whitney Houston could easily redeem herself. She may surprise us yet."