Exclusive: “R&B Divas” Exec. Producer Phil Thornton Responds To LaTavia’s Claims Of Bogus Editing: “It’s Bullsh**t”

July 9, 2014  |  

We told you yesterday that LaTavia Roberson, who was a cast member on the most recent season of R&B Divas Atlanta, wasn’t pleased with how she was represented on the show. While she was hoping to present more of her life as a mother and businesswoman, Roberson claimed she was disappointed to find out that she was also supposed to take part in a showcase with cast members weeks after she they started shooting, especially since she hasn’t really been singing for a long time. Her reluctance to sing wound up being a big part of the secondhalf of this season, spurring TV One to joke about it with the hashtag #SingLataviaSing, creating mild conflict with cast members (like Keke Wyatt), and making many fans of the show think she was a poor choice for casting. But she says a lot of her representation on the show was due to editing: 

“They edited it on down,” she explained. “I started looking on the show myself like, ‘Why am I on this show?’ Is the only thing I know how to say is, ‘I don’t want to sing?’”

But someone who is literally calling bull on her claims is R&B Divas Producer (executive producer at that) Phil Thornton. He says that he’s sick and tired of past  and present cast members using the “Oh, it’s the editing” excuse. In fact, he says that he was surprised that she was bothered, because she seemed more than happy to return for next season during the reunion. And if Roberson had all these other things going on as she said, he says that she should have shown them: “We gave you the opportunity to tell us what to capture, but we only saw what you gave.”

If She Was Misled Or Had Her Image Manipulated By Producers:

“That’s false. From the very beginning when I spoke to LaTavia about joining the cast, I wanted to hear more about her journey as a single mom, and as an entrepreneur and so forth. But there were certain limitations as it relates to showcasing her as a mother. It involved other people beyond needing her. So we didn’t cast as much of the single motherhood aspect because as you know, you have to have both parents sign off on a document.

Throughout the season I constantly encouraged LaTavia and her manager as well and I made several calls to them mid-season to say, ‘Hey if you’re not going to be a part of this [showcase], it’s fine, it’s not mandatory.’ I made the call several times throughout the season to say, ‘Hey, give us your reality.’ We have no choice but to trail and follow your reality. So if you’re choosing not to be a diva through a different route, whether it be songwriting or the book you’ve been talking about, or a product line, we have no choice but to follow the reality. If this isn’t your reality, let us know what is.

For everything we don’t show, we’re very respectful of the ladies. Some things we probably should show that would make really good TV, we choose not to touch on out of respect for the cast. So that’s why for me, when I hear the whole, ‘It’s the editing,’ it’s bulls**t. Because if we chose some other things it would really tear some people’s brand down, and you would look at them in an entirely different way. If we ask the ladies in the LA cast and the Atlanta cast, ‘How do you feel about your representation on the show?’ I’m very sure that the ones that are still with us will say, ‘That’s really me.’ And the ones not there aren’t there for a reason.”

Past Cast Members Often Blaming Bad Editing:

“You cant please everybody. But as far as manipulating something that wasn’t there, we can’t put words in people’s mouths. If you give us crazy one day out of the week, we might show the crazy, but YOU still gave us the crazy. We didn’t put words in anybody’s mouth, we didn’t make anyone get up in anybody’s face, and we didn’t encourage anyone not to sing. I really wish she would have shown herself being a diva in her own right because she does have other things going on, and I applaud her, which is why I wanted her on the show. But none of those things were brought to our attention for us to cover. Tell the whole story. Don’t make it seem like it was bad editing because that line is getting real old.”

Nicci Gilbert Often Blaming Producers For Bad Editing:

…God bless her, I just want no parts. It just wasn’t good for anyone involved. But you know…good luck.

Why He Picked Roberson To Be On The Show:

“The decision to cast LaTavia was because she was obviously one of the founding members of one of the biggest female groups in the history of R&B and pop music. So I loved the story of that on one level, and her background is R&B. That is a part of her legacy and history. All the women have R&B music in common and I said, in theory, we’d love for them to work together, but I stressed that it’s not mandatory. If you don’t want to be part, do not continue to go to rehearsal. If the reality is, I’m not trying to sing, but I AM a songwriter, okay, so let’s put her in the studio with Jazze Pha. But you saw for yourself, nothing she wrote…but you don’t have to be a singer to be a diva. You can be a songwriter, but my thing is, we gave you the opportunity to tell us what to capture, but we only saw what you gave. What we got is the acting classes, the vocal coach and we like to show the different sides of the women in front of the cameras, behind the scenes, as moms, as wives, as entrepreneurs–that’s the goal.

I think she’s great, she’s a great person, I think she’s sweet, and I loved the story. I loved that she’s a single mom and there were a lot of layers to make me think that she would be a great fit. Did I know that she was not going to sing? That I didn’t know.

To come back after such a long period of time and be ridiculed online probably is a bit much, but what you’re NOT going to do is portray us like we did you wrong, because that’s not cool. I would feel bad if I was out here like ‘I should have called her, I should have told her, I should have warned her.’ But I did.”

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