Whitney Houston funeral: Kevin Costner, ex Bobby Brown, Mel Gibson among celebrities invited
Kevin Costner is set to appear at Whitney Houston's funeral to pay his respects to his former "Bodyguard" co-star.
He joins celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Aretha Franklin who are on the guest list of the largely private memorial service, set to take place on Saturday, February 18, at 12 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT) at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where the 48-year-old singer had first showcased her singing skills publicly as a child (watch a live stream of Whitney Houston's funeral on OnTheRedCarpet.com).
Houston is known best for her cover of Dolly Parton's ballad "I Will Always Love You," the lead single on the soundtrack of the 1992 film "The Bodyguard." The film marked Houston's big screen debut and saw her play a singer who falls in love with her bodyguard, a former Secret Service agent, played by Costner. The actor plans to say a few words at her funeral, a family source told People magazine. His spokesperson had no immediate comment.
Costner has not spoken publicly about Houston's death, which occurred on February 11 at a Beverly Hills hotel, and it is unclear if and how the two kept in touch in recent years. After the release of "The Bodyguard," Costner and Houston had bumped into one another at celebrity events, such as Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIV, which took place in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2008.
Houston is survived by her mother, Cissy, and her 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina. The girl's father and the singer's ex-husband, singer Bobby Brown, is also allowed to attend the funeral, despite recent reports that said he was told to stay away.
"Bobby Brown is invited," Houston's spokesperson told OnTheRedCarpet.com on Friday.
Gibson was also invited, the rep confirmed, but offered no further details. TMZ reported that Houston's family wanted him to attend the funeral but that he said he would not be able to make it due to family commitments. The actor, like Houston, had struggled with substance abuse. He became a tabloid favorite after his 2006 drunk driving arrest and had last year dealt with a custody battle and domestic violence case involving his ex-girlfriend and mother of his eighth child, daughter Lucia.
"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin, the late singer's godmother, and Stevie Wonder are set to perform at the funeral.
Other stars expected to attend include Houston's cousin and singer Dionne Warwick, music mogul Clive Davis, who helped launch her career, R&B star Alicia Keys, gospel stars Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin, musical director Rickey Minor and Cece Winans, another gospel singer who is also the godmother of Houston's daughter. Gospel singer and pastor Marvin Winans is set to give the eulogy.
Actor and director Tyler Perry, who reportedly supplied the plane that flew her body from Los Angeles to her native New Jersey earlier this week, is also invited to the funeral, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
Others who have been invited include Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and husband Jay-Z, Elton John, David Bowie, Bill Cosby and Chaka Khan, who was the original singer of "I'm Every Woman," another song Houston sang in "The Bodyguard," a source close to the matter told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
After the memorial service, the iconic pop singer will be laid to rest 15 miles away, at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, according to her death certificate, which was obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. Her father was buried there after he died in 2003. The 105-acre cemetery is also an arboretum. It contains a pond with a fountain, flowers and 61 species of trees.
The funeral is by invitation only and reporters are not allowed in or around the church. The city of Newark plans to block off streets. Houston's family members have also requested for no funeral procession to be held and for no video screens to be set up for her fans to mourn her publicly during the funeral session, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said on Wednesday, according to the Star-Ledger newspaper.
MEDICAL RECORDS SOUGHT
Houston died at age 48 in a room at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 11 at 3:55 p.m., a time that is also listed on her death certificate.
The cause of her death is described as "deferred," as investigators have not revealed what killed Houston, who was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub by a member of her staff. Her autopsy has been completed but the results will not be released until a toxicology report is produced, which could take up to eight weeks.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office recently issued subpoenas for Houston's medical and pharmacy records in a routine move that could speed up its investigation. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said "a number of doctors" were contacted.
He had previously confirmed that bottles of prescription drugs were found near Houston's body on the day she died. A source close to the matter told OnTheRedCarpet.com that one of them was the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Mixed with alcohol, some medications can cause death. It is unclear what substances Houston ingested on the night she died. The singer had struggled with addictions to drugs such as cocaine and pills and alcohol for years. She relapsed and returned to rehab in May. Witnesses say they saw Houston drinking champagne the night before her death.
Two days before she died, she celebrated and performed at a Los Angeles nightclub in what marked her final performance, although it is unclear whether she consumed alcohol (check out photos and video from the event).