The TV-movie "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" (which premiered on VH1 on Oct. 21, 2013) was a ratings smash. The Nielsen Company reported on Oct. 22, 2013 that a total of 4.5 million U.S. viewers watched the movie's premiere, making it the highest-rated cable TV-movie premiere of 2013 so far. "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" is also VH1's highest-rated program since 2008 and VH1's highest-rated original movie of all time, according to VH1, which made the announcement in a press release.
After the movie aired, sales increased dramatically for TLC's "20" greatest-hits compilation album (which is also the film's official soundtrack), which was released in the U.S. on Oct. 15, 2013. As of Oct. 23, 2013, "20" is at No. 5 on the iTunes album chart in the U.S. (up from No. 43 on the chart), and is No. 1 on the iTunes R&B albums chart in the U.S.
VH1 will have an encore showing of "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" Oct. 27, 2013, at 8 p.m. EDT, and it will be immediately followed by encores of "Behind the Music: TLC Remastered" at 10:30 p.m. EDT and "Rock Docs: Last Days of Left Eye" at 11:30 p.m. EDT. "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" is also available on demand on VH1's website.
As previously reported, on June 26, 2013, TMZ broke the news that the family of the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes is upset that the surviving members of TLC have recorded a new version of the TLC chart-topping hit "Waterfalls" with Japanese pop star Namie Amuro doing the vocal parts that were originally recorded by Lopes. Meanwhile, rapper Lil Mama is speaking out on the somewhat controversial decision to cast her as Lopes in the biopic "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story."
Lisa Lopes died in a car accident in 2002. She was 30 years old.
Her sister Reigndrop Lopes commented to TMZ about the "Waterfalls" remake: "I did not know about it until a fan posted it online. I mean it would have been nice if they would have given us a heads up before being surprised."
TMZ reported: "Reigndrop says her mom was shocked and hurt as well ... because she felt keeping Lisa on the song would have honored her daughter's memory. Despite her disappointment, Reigndrop added she's alright with the remake ... if, and only if, it's only released in Japan. It's unclear if that's TLC's plan."
TLC remains one of the biggest-selling girl groups of all time. "Waterfalls" (from TLC's 1994 album "Crazy Sexy Cool") won several awards and is TLC's biggest hit. The other members of TLC (Rozonda "Chili" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins) have carried on performing under the name TLC but have not matched the success that they had when Lopes was in the group.
In 2005, Thomas and Watkins starred in the reality show "R U the Girl" to find a vocalist who could do a tribute to Lopes as a temporary member of the group. The winner was O'so Krispie' (real name: Tiffany Baker), who hailed from TLC's hometown of Atlanta, and who has since faded back into obscurity. O'so Krispie' performed the song "I Bet" with TLC in the season finale of "R U the Girl."
In the TV-movie "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story," Keke Palmer plays Thomas, and Drew Sidora plays Watkins. Some people on the Internet expressed skepticism over the casting of Palmer (who is 19) because they think she is too young to play the ages that Thomas was in TLC's heyday, but most of the negative reactions on the Internet were about Lil Mama being cast as Lisa Lopes.
In an interview with Hampton Blu's radio show on June 18, 2013, Lil Mama (whose real name is Niatia Jessica Kirkland) talked about how she was cast in the role: "I definitely had to audition. I heard about it through my uncle when I was here in New York ... I got in touch with [MC] Lyte ... Long story short, my boy Claude Brooks, he hooked me up with casting. They gave me the run around ...
"I went to three or four auditions ... I just stayed humble and I went through the ropes and read my script ... The key to it was being ready. I was able to pull it off and I was very honored to get that part."
Lil Mama also revealed how she prepared for the role: "Even before getting the role, I watched the VH1 special with Left Eye. I watched many videos ... that many people may have not seen before. She had videos of herself being a DJ or a forecast person for the weather. She was a very innovative person. I was able to learn that about her from watching her videos."
When Lil Mama was asked what she could ask Lisa Lopes if Lopes were still alive, Lil Mama said, "What was the happiest moment in her life? And after losing her father, what helped her keep going? That's something we have in common. We lost our parents at the beginning of our careers."
Thomas and Watkins made an official statement about their decision to do a remake of TLC's "Waterfalls" with Amuro doing the vocals originally recorded by Lisa Lopes. Here is what was stated in a press release:
Thomas said, “Our re-make of “Waterfalls” was a tribute to our sister Lisa, who actually co-wrote 'Waterfalls' with Marqueze Etheridge. We don’t own the master recording rights to Lisa’s raps on any of our music, and our requests to gain the rights so far have been denied. With the Japanese anniversary edition, we were forced to use creative ways to honor Lisa’s memory and celebrate this milestone with our fans.
Watkins added, "Lisa met Namie with us back in 1999 and she knew how much of a TLC fan Namie is; we were also impressed with how talented she is as a solo artist. Lisa being one of the most creative people I have ever met, would’ve been the first to have other talented artists covering our music. It is a tribute to her memory, and one I know she would appreciate.
"Our management reached out to Ron Lopes prior to the record being released, to let him know that Namie would be performing to Lisa’s lyrics. We have and always will protect our sister’s legacy as TLC consists of the three of us collectively. Although we have and will collaborate with other artists, there will never be a replacement for Lisa or any members in TLC.”
On July 27, 2013, TLC performed at the 2013 Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa.
According to a TLC press release: "The biggest surprise of the evening was Lil’ Mama, who plays the late great Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes in TLC's upcoming biopic on VH1, joining the duo on stage during 'No Scrubs.'
"After her performance, T-Boz and Chilli graciously thanked Lil’ Mama for her tribute and reiterated to the fans that she is not a permanent replacement. 'You’re hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, we said we will never replace her,' says T-Boz. Chilli went on to state, 'That was our sister and she still is our sister, we’ve also stated that we want to continue moving forward in order for us to continue to make new music for you guys, our fans.'"
Critics' reviews for "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" were mixed. Here are excerpts from some of the reviews:
"TLC‘s superstardom was pretty transparent — or so we thought. The Atlanta-based trio’s story came to a screeching halt when they lost the “L” in their moniker upon the passing of Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes in 2002. It’s been 11 years since then, and when rumblings that a TLC biopic was in the works emerged last year, every TLC fan rejoiced. However, it was less about learning the real story of TLC (we got that from Behind The Music) and more about just being able to relive their history. In that respect, VH1′s 'CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story' is a total home run, allowing every TLC fan — from casual listener to zealot — to reminisce over one of the most successful female groups of all time. The downside, though, lies in contriving a happy ending to a story that isn’t even finished yet."
"'CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story' definitely plays like a VH1 film, with amazingly accurate reproductions of the popular music videos going into each commercial break. If nothing else, this was worth the two and a half hours. Who doesn’t remember all the words to Left Eye’s verse in Waterfalls? Good stuff. The pace moves quickly with the group meeting, replacing a member (Chilli filling the slot) and signing away their lives to Pebbles all before the first break. They should have shown how Left Eye used to sleep at Jermaine Dupri’s house in those pre-deal days without his mother’s knowledge to incorporate more of burgeoning Atlanta at that time than just LaFace and Pebbitone. Pebbles (Rochelle Aytes) comes across very one-dimensional, almost cartoonish in her villainy. It feels like a child’s perspective in relaying a story of her wicked step sister. Perhaps that says much about the emotional immaturity of the girls."
"The new VH1 movie on legendary girl group TLC — 'CrazySexyCool' — doesn’t have to be at all good to be jaw-droppingly great. The girls have a story no director or writer could screw up — or make up. Highlights include multiple lawsuits, bouts of alcoholism, a life-threatening disease, an incestuous affair, wars between the girls waged in the press, one member famously torching her boyfriend’s house to the ground (then posing on a magazine cover, gleefully sporting a fire hose) and, finally, the death of the group’s self-declared craziest member in a horrific car accident.
"No reality show could compete with the density, intensity and mania of this plot. In fact, watching the story today makes TLC seem like the natural precursors to “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Not only do they beat the housewives in attitude, they provide the historic starting point for Atlanta’s later role as an entertainment capital hot enough to rival the coasts."
"TLC experienced a tremendous amount of trauma, too much to pack into just a couple of hours, especially when each member’s grievances require equal airtime. T-Boz (Drew Sidora) suffered from sickle cell anemia. Left Eye (Lil Mama) struggled under the weight of her father’s disapproval. Chilli (Keke Palmer) struck up an ill-advised romance with Dallas Austin (a practically mute Evan Ross), who produced several of TLC’s early hits, fathered a son with Chilli, and is portrayed here as a simp and a cad. (T-Boz and Chilli are executive producers and consultants on the film, and it shows.) Of the three main actresses, only Lil Mama — a rapper of minor acclaim in her earlier years — conveys any tactile joie de vivre or agony. Ms. Palmer plays Chilli, the group’s bombshell, with rigid grace, and Ms. Sidora paints the group caretaker T-Boz with wide, blunt strokes ...
"At minimum, the film has verisimilitude. The resemblances between the actresses and their subjects can be disorienting, and the wardrobes are faithful to the early 1990s, full of screaming colors in Mack Truck-size silhouettes. Director Charles Stone III (“Drumline”), does an admirable job remaking old music videos almost note for note and synthesizing faux vintage footage of varying types into a visually dynamic whole. But as the film swerves from one speed bump to the next, it takes TLC’s success and acclaim largely for granted, a clear violation of the 'Behind the Music' blueprint."
"'CrazySexyCool' is a not a particularly well-constructed biopic, hopping from moment to moment like moviemaking was just a matter of checking scenes off a list, but it does everything that Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, the two surviving members of TLC, could ask for: It will absolutely convince you that TLC was amazing. As art, 'CrazySexyCool' is middling; as propaganda it is very effective."