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CNN’s new documentary ‘Prince: The End’ raises more questions than it answers

Prince photographed by Robert Whitman in 1979; Whitman is one of the subjects interviewed in CNN's new documentary on Prince

In what’s shaping up to be the biggest weekend in Prince news since his untimely passing, CNN’s HLN network has announced it will air a new documentary, Prince: The End, this Friday night to coincide with a big Prince tribute planned at Sunday night’s Grammys and Prince’s catalog reportedly hitting multiple major streaming services.

According to a press release, Prince: The End promises to “pull back the curtain to expose the secret struggles the music genius faced,” with contributions from the people who knew him best.

After watching an advanced screening of the documentary, it seems that more questions are raised than answered over the course of the special’s 40 minutes. Despite the salacious tone, dramatic background music, and leading questions, the documentary offers little in the way of new information regarding Prince’s passing. Instead, a cast of commentators — including CNN’s Van Jones, Sara Sidner and Alisyn Camerota; former MTV News anchor Kurt Loder; Rolling Stone’s Joe Levy; and an investigative journalist who researches celebrity deaths, Ian Halperin — retread known facts about Prince’s final weeks, including the Piano and a Microphone shows he played in Atlanta on April 14 and the emergency plane landing that grounded him in rural Illinois while making his way back to Minneapolis.

Shoehorned in amidst the speculation about Prince’s death are some very real and very touching conversations with his earliest collaborators and friends, and at times it feels like one is watching two different documentaries that are being spliced together in real time. Two of Prince’s earliest bandmates, his best friend André Cymone and cousin Chazz Smith, reflect on the earliest days of playing together in Grand Central. His first mentor, Pepé Willie, marvels at his obvious drive and talent, and his first manager, Owen Husney, reflects on helping Prince sign to Warner Bros. and launch his solo career.

What’s odd is how heavily the documentary leans on these relationships from Prince’s teenage years, and attempts to connect their narrative to the tragic story that unfolded 37 years later. Still grief-stricken, these sources can only wonder about what led to Prince’s death. In the words of Chazz Smith, “Somebody’s going to have to tell me the real story.” But unfortunately for those seeking answers, that somebody isn’t going to be CNN.

It’s a lot to attempt to wedge into 40 minutes: Not only the story of Prince’s life and musical origins, but how his career might have impacted his health, his relationships, and his ability to accept help when he needed it.

It’s unfortunate, then, but not surprising, that the documentary mixes up a few details — like where and when Prince told his fans to “wait a few days before you waste any prayers” (which he said on stage at Paisley Park on April 16) or in what context he tweeted the words “I am #transformed” (he was retweeting a fan’s reaction to his concert).

From an investigative journalism angle, they miss some major details of his final days, like the fact that Judith Hill was at his side during the emergency plane landing and has recounted her detailed memories of the evening to the New York Times, or that Prince had visited a nearby Walgreens the night before he was found dead.

The fact is that while we know how Prince died — of an accidental overdose of the intensely powerful opioid Fentanyl — we will likely never know why. Why is the unanswerable question we must all face whenever someone we care about dies, and no amount of speculation is going to put that nagging, sinking feeling to rest. Although the producers set out to get to the bottom of Prince’s story once and for all, I’m afraid the resulting documentary will only leave viewers feeling unsettled.

It turns out the sources interviewed for the documentary have been left feeling unsettled as well. As André Cymone’s wife, Katherine Copeland Anderson, wrote in a blog post today, they were never told that the resulting documentary would be about Prince’s death — instead, they believed it would be a special about his origins and creative life.

“This? This was what André was interviewed for? A show about how Prince died? I cannot express how deeply sad I am that this is a show and that André is now a part of it,” she writes. “Please accept our heartfelt apology for misjudging this moment.”

  • TBC

    ,,why u wanna treat me so BAD” – Prince

    • Rosie Spaceboy

      Ahh such a good song!! I have the self-titled album on right now, been listening to it all the time since he passed on. Xoxo, R.I.P. Prince 🙏🏻🦋🙏🏻

  • Rik

    Prince was taken out, murdered. Andre Cymon and his wife Katherine Anderson know this, Prince’s family and staff know this…..Facts include:
    -Prince never touched drugs, everyone close to him knows this, period.
    -We live in the land of treatment centers but yet they call on a Doctor in L.A that doesnt have time for Prince(what?!) In the 11th hour so he sends his son, not even a licensed doctor(really?) to travel with this secret antidote (illegally btw) to render this to Prince???
    -The doctors son is the one to find Prince dead in the elevator(when the elevator tries to take u down, go crazy) coincedentally a famous Prince lyric! (not suspicious at all)…
    and he is the one to call police and thinks he is in Prince’s house???
    Because all Prince’s staff is to distraught to render needed aid or even dial a fuking phone….Oooohhhkaaahhy!
    -No will found, its well known Prince was meticulous with his business, someone knows where the will is, please, such bullshit here.
    -Prince’s body was carted away and nobody saw it after that?
    -NO VIDEO CAMERA FOOTAGE AT HIGHLY SECURED PAISLEY PARK???
    I HAVE BEEN THERE, CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE, LETS SEE THE VIDEO!
    -Prince, only days before retained artistic control over his library of music (record companies are all about control, and are known to do anything to gain control and power over artists).
    More will come out, I promise you….

    • Diamond Starr

      C’mon… Seriously?

      Some big conspiracy, right?

      He collapsed in the elevator, and that’s where he died… what’s to see?

      Geeeze!

      • Rik

        Go eat everything your fed by the lamestream media, its more comfortable that way right?

        • Diamond Starr

          Really? Name calling? Did I call you out of your name? No, I don’t think I did. Calling me an idiot doesn’t make your lame, tired ass conspiracy any more true. I knew him personally and his family. No one conspired to kill him, fuckwad! His sister did not wish him dead, and for you to say something like that, only shows that you really knew nothing about him, his life or his family. Grow the fuck up already!

          • Cynthia Lewis

            Anyone on the internet can claim to know him. It is a meaningless claim unless you have some sort of proof.

            I personally know Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and used to know Napoleon a few lifetimes ago. See how easy that was? Means about as much as your claim to have known Prince.

          • payday

            Lolololol

          • Diamond Starr

            Difference is, I don’t have to lie about knowing him and could give less than a shit if you believe it or not.

          • payday

            Yeah oooookay TROLL

          • Diamond Starr

            Suck my ass you cunt, I don’t need to prove shit to you. Ball licking bastard.

          • Rik

            Diamond Starr, I know more than I can tell you on this forum right now. I have been involved with Paisley Park for 25 years in different capacities. I have never heard of you, but you probably are using a pseudonym here. The fact that you get very defensive and angry makes me suspect of your motives to derail this otherwise engaging coversation. Many people and truthers like myself are not fooled by the media’s sloppy, even downright ridiculous account of events surrounding the great ones death.
            We will continue our private investigation, and if you are such a huge fan of his you should be comfortable knowing people like “us” are on Prince’s side, posthumously….Good day.

          • Diamond Starr

            You can be “suspect of my motives” all you want. I defend him fiercely because I knew him personally (rather you belive it or not – I don’t give a shit) and I cared a great deal about him. Also, I’ve never heard of you either. ??
            It’s simple. Prince had a problem that he tried to seek help with. Help came too late for him because he O.D.’d before he got the treatment HE KNEW HE NEEDED. Prince was extremely guarded and private when it came to letting people into his life. You would only ever see, exactly what he wanted you to see – nothing more – no matter how close to him you were. Tyka (or his family) DID NOT CONSPIRE TO KILL HIM, YOU IDIOTS! Prince took the aspirin laced with Fentanyl trying to deal with the severe pain he was having with his hips. He did that to his self. No one forced those pills into his mouth and no one poisoned him.

            Leave Andre, Tyka, and the rest of his family out of your weak ass, fantastical conspiracies! They had nothing to do with it – period!

        • Sheikh Yerbouti

          Go to bed, get some sleep. You need it.

      • payday

        You are an idiot you must not know anything about him so stay out of the convo stay in your lane

        • Diamond Starr

          Nope! You’re the idiot. I dont have to lie about knowing him like you do. Loser!

          • Ash

            I thought the fenatyl was administered through an iv or a patch….not mixed in with aspirin…nonetheless this all is sad. I think the documentary is all smoke and mirrors but I believe those close to him are raising questions but I don’t think they want anything to happen to them. Prince would not approve of the music streaming crap. Ppl just shit on your legacy when you’re gone!!! Terrible. Miss you Prince💜☔️☔️☔️☔️☔️💜💜☔️☔️

          • Laurie

            I have been using a Fentanyl patch for years for chronic pain! I just wanted to add that… When Prince died I asked my Drs. about different forms of Fentanyl and I was also told…..IV or patch…. So I was questioning that part! I too was thinking…..where was his staff???? Alot of what was reported didn’t make any sense! Sadly some of this does!
            I too love Prince and still mourning his loss!!!!💜💜💜🎶

          • Ash

            Hi Laurie! That’s interesting!!!! What’s even more crazy was I thought his autopsy would mention something about patches being found on him….I wish someone would request his full autopsy…I mean they released Whitney Houston’s with no issue. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to a Prince song. He is literally the soundtrack of my life. I completely understand your grief.💜💜💜

          • Gloria

            A lot of this stuff is synthetic…dealers cut it with all kinds of chemicals so God knows what he was given. Don’t forget that many of these things can be easily bought online. It’s disturbing. I do wish the documentary had explained that more.

      • payday

        Yes you can you dumb fucker

        • Diamond Starr

          Suck my cock you silly child! Your fucked up conspiracy doesn’t hold water.

      • Sandra

        Some people are worth more dead than alive IDOIT

        • Diamond Starr

          And some are worth more alive than dead, DIPSHIT!

    • payday

      You are absolutely right there was a letter filed in court by JJ that says that he called her and said Tyka and her husband were killing him. Warner Brothers paid Tyka and she burned the will 😡😡😈😈

      • This is your Mom

        What I wouldn’t give to see you sued for slander.

        • payday

          Prove it the letter is filed in court carver county so……it’s absolutly possible again stay in ur lane

          • This is your Mom

            That chic is nuttier than a fruitcake and it’s pretty clear just reading that letter. Apparently you didn’t read it or your comprehension skills are lacking.

          • payday

            Ok we will let you live in your bubble ….keep trolling

          • Diamond Starr

            These conspiracy freaks don’t understand logic or reason, so don’t waste your time trying.

      • Rik

        Thank you for this information Payday….We have been in contact with Carver county courts.

        • payday

          Good you can read a copy of it it’s everywhere

      • Princess

        @payday where did you find the info out about the letter? I believe he was killed also. Tyka gets on tv and says she was just waiting for this day, two years ago. So when she heard he had died she wasnt shocked. She goes on to say he had told her he had did everything he wanted in life. Big deal, that still wouldn’t make me think the person is going to die or wants to die. This whole story makes no sense. I do believe the will was destroyed. I want to know why charges haven’t been brought against the doctors son. Carrying drugs out of state. He’s not a doctor….. whats really going on????

        • payday

          There is a interview with Lenny Kravitz and he says that when he heard about the plane landing he knew what was going on and felt like Prince had dodged a bullet that day and what was that about????

          • Princess

            Thank you, im going to look for it.

      • LuxLuxLux

        Please use the correct name. JJ to Prince fam is Jill Jones!

        • Jill Jones

          Not me at all. And I am not taking kindly to these inflammatory remarks. So much for ” truthers” more like ” liars”

          • LuxLuxLux

            People who read the court docs referred to here will know it isn’t you but most haven’t so will assume it is especially as Prince himself called you JJ on Twitter!

          • Sharon E Galley

            I with U Jill

      • Jill Jones

        JJ?? You certainly are not talking about me I hope? If so, get your facts straight.

        • Amy Ross Smith

          No someone named Jennifer J filed something with the courts claiming Prince called her right before he died etc. she’s been all over social media under different names

          • payday

            Right and nobody seems enraged about this particular letter yet everybody’s feeding into the fentanyl overdose get the fuck out of here never going to buy it never going to believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • payday

          No we know who you are it’s not nobody’s talking about you

          • LuxLuxLux

            It’s bizzare that you say JJ and not the person’s name because for most [long term] Prince fams seeing JJ mentioned in relation to his name will instantly think of Jill Jones!

          • payday

            That is true was not intentional Jennifer Jeffers or Jeffries is who filed seems like a pseudonym to me but either way if people don’t think that his death was suspicious that means they probably have not paid attention over the years💔💔💜💜

          • LuxLuxLux

            I think it is suspicious but I don’t think the woman who said that about Tyka is right.

        • lali

          I think Devaughn you mean Jennifer Jeffres or Jeffers who claims Prince called her the night if his death and jusy filed the letter in court. The story is strange. She will be discredited eventually.

    • devaughn currie

      Some of this nonsense might make since had prince not ODed days before all of this.. what was that attempted murder That he just ignored?

    • Shane Ford

      Prince was rumored to be addicted to oxycontin 15 years ago. Kirk found him dead in the elevator. So what if he said “Prince’s house”, he didnt know where he was. I was once with a girlfriend in the small room at Paisley Park and she was under the impression also that he lived there. “Where are we!?!” she asked. Of course Kirk and Meron were distraught. Can you imagine what they discovered? Do you know what a dead body looks like after it’s been dead for 7 hours? google it. Prince was NOT meticulous with his business! LOL. An absolute mess with his business is more like it. I could give you dozens of examples. Cameras are NOT in Paisley Park everywhere! Now you are just lying. I have been there more than you, I promise you that. You’re full of crap. He almost OD’ed the week before, he finished himself off the next week. Prince never wanted anyone to know he was human with human frailties. PERIOD.

      • Val

        You may be speaking of the truth that old school fams might not want to hear. This is very sad.

      • Laura Veney

        People who worked security at Paisley Park have said that he had security cameras. It is against the law to bring those drugs across state lines and Dr. K son should be charged. Was a kid going to actually give Prince drugs? Do have any idea how many laws were being broken? In addition, we still have no idea what happened on that plane with exception of Judith Hill all of the info came from TMZ. We do have numerous associates claiming we do know the whole story and we know 65k in medical expense listed on his inventory sheet from 2016. I believe he was ill and taking pain meds off the books to keep it out of the news and because he had become dependent on these meds to get around. I do not belive it is possible for anyone to be using pain meds off the books for 20 years and work at his pace. Anyone who believes this is a moron. Could he have had a RX for meds of course especially after surgery does not mean he was strung out.

        • luvlives

          There were security cameras there. They just didn’t work. Most people who worked there did not know this however.

    • luvlives

      None of those cameras worked at Paisley. Prince wanted it that way.

      • LuxLuxLux

        do you mean that night or all the time?

    • Sheikh Yerbouti

      Conspiracy theorist. Not smart!

    • lali

      Rik thank you for having the bravery to tell the truth. There is a big cover up ad many people involved, some his employees. One day the truth will come out. What happened to him was horrible and it was people he thought cared for him. The amount of drugs found in his body was enough to kill many people and he could have never gotten that much by pills. This show only shows how many holes are in the story of his last days. Unfortunately they didn’t do enough digging or ask the right people so all it shares is no new information only more questions. Who were the people from the “Prince camp” that called an LA dr, and why did he send his non-licensed son with illegal drugs on a plane? All of it crazy! I pray and light a candle for Prince. One day the truth will be out.

  • Diamond Starr

    They hoodwink interviewees all the time. Tell them what they think they want to hear to get the interview. After they get/take all that they can get from you, then all bets are off. They’ll spin the story any way they think will get them the best ratings. I too, am sorry that Andre was dragged into something unwittingly. It happens. We’ve always known Andres intentions (when it comes to Prince) have been pure and from a place of love. He has NEVER had one bad thing to say about the musical genius we all miss and love so much. But thank you for your apology, it only confirms what stand up people you and Andre are. <3

  • Becki Davis Hedrick

    I believe its yet another smear campaign to harm Prince’s legacy, bring his fans “under control” and stop investigating the murder, and to distract us from finding out the truth. These people prey on the grief stricken like Vultures surrounding a dying rodent. It’s all for gossip and sensationalism and to keep us in the dark. I refuse to watch it.

    • payday

      That’s right💜💜

    • Gloria

      So you’re making a negative comment about something you haven’t watched? That makes sense, no?! The piece is very touching, well done and pays homage to a beautiful man. You should give it a chance.

  • Eileen Pizarro

    I knew it.💔😠

  • Michael R Vickers

    How could they do so much disrespect to a Lyrical God and the most sincere human in music

  • michael hammond

    He did not know that the pills he obtained had fentanyl in them. No mystery….He just did not know. The real question is who and where they came from. His diminutive frame I’m sure had the lowest of tolerances but you can’t tell me this Man who had complete control over his life would have intentionally left a mess……He just didn’t know.

    • Gloria

      Exactly. His greedy enablers should pay for this tragedy, but will anyone be held accountable? I have my doubts.

  • jacqueline

    I just believe prince was poisoned first cause he seemed confused Nov 22.and then the chef admitte he was ill prior and had changed his diet.he was already small but he appeared to have loss much weight and was not looking well.appears something about his death is being covered up.

  • mamathellama

    Oh dear God, not another bunch of comments full of ridiculous speculations surrounding his death. Have some respect people. I don’t plan to watch this special. I expected better from a major player like CNN. Sorry Andre was misled. How sad. No worries tho. We know he would never deliberately do or say anything to disrespect his friend. Don’t waste your time with this “documentary”.

    • Gloria

      Have you watched it? It is nothing like what you believe it to be. It’s actually very well done.

  • Sheikh Yerbouti

    I’m guessing this documentary will reveal nothing new, and completely miss out the strong possibility that he was suffering from a degree of METALLOSIS and that this combined with an OPIATE

  • Sandra

    Wow Cnn will do anything to make money.Now they are using PRINCE again to make more money.No wonder the President Donal dTrump says they are all crooked.And they are we all know that PRINCE was murdered.They are just trying to take the heat off of Warner Brothers.We know they are the ones that did it.They worked with Tyka Prince only sister to get PRINCE catolog back.So in the same week we have a fake docamentary on Prince just as he was having a tribute to PRINCE.I have a question how can you do a true docomentary when there is still criminal investigations going on.They aren’t going to tell the truth.Why do you think he died one day and was creamated hours later.If there was no will who signed for him to be creamated.Only the ones that had something to do with the death.Why do you think they haven’t released any money to anyone especially Tyka and her husband killed Prince at the hand of Warner Brothers.People it is time to wake up and stop believing all the lies that our news channels give us.It is only for their rating.Who can get the highest rating.Just like MJ they got rid of him to.Just look at the last year 2016.At how many people we have lost.And they were all said to be a drug over dose.Give me a break you could have the body like PRINCE and eat the way he was and put on a concerts like he did if he was high on fentyal.We are stupid people Warner Brothers only wish we were.They just want the money but you know what.Prince didn’t leave a will because he was tired of his sister Tkya living in his home that he bought and paid.PRINCE paid for her drug addiction but told her if he found out she was back on drugs again.Her and her family was out of his life.When that happened he told her to get out of his house and guess what he ends up dead.What about the phone call PRINCE made after her and her husband had beat him up and force pills down his throat.They were ram sacking his house and stealing his money.While he laid there alone.The person PRINCE called said they heard the foot steps and heard Tyka say he is moving.When her husband said he won’t be for long.And she heard the door close.Prince was begging for this person to call his lawyer because he knew he was going to black out.So I hope and pray that when the criminal investigation is done.Her and her husband goes to jail and take PRINCE so called best friend with them Kirk Johnson.He was in on it to.I am just so mad at what they are trying to do to PRINCE.And that is dragging his name through the mud.But he will have the last laugh.No one will get a penny of PRINCE money because it all goes to his son.THAN GOD.There is alot that the true PRINCE fans doesn’t know yet.Because when they do know the real truth the world is going to erupt and it won’t be pretty.

  • Gloria

    It’s amazing that people making negative comments haven’t even seen the documentary. I watched it twice tonight and as a huge fan of Prince, I thought it was well done. It’s respectful, informative, and does leave one wondering how this could have happened. Why didn’t Prince’s team do more? With all due respect to Andre Cymone’s wife but she wrote a negative piece about the show but based her writing on the trailer not the actual documentary. Why didn’t she wait until she actually watched the piece? As a fan of Prince, I thought Mr. Cymone did a beautiful job sharing his experience growing up with Prince. Some of the stories he shared, I had not heard before and so I’m grateful that he shared those beautiful memories with us the fans. Thank you Mr. Cymone! You came across sincere and I sense nothing but love and respect from you towards your dear friend. Perhaps because Prince was so beloved and no one will ever compare to him, any media that’s done about him will never satisfy everyone. I can see that. But this documentary is worth watching. What happened to Prince is happening daily to countless families across the country and it is disingenuousness to assume that a documentary about one of the most famous musicians would only focus on his music and not his untimely, tragic death. Prince should not have died and someone needs to be held accountable. As tough as it may be for some people to accept, Prince was suffering. He was suffering from physical pain and from the horrific disease of addiction. To get upset because a documentary explains these details does a disservice to Prince. He was suffering and people around him ignored it. That sad and tragic fact cannot be overlooked. RIP beautiful Prince. You are greatly missed.