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"Uptown Saturday Night" Remake w/ Denzel Washington, Will Smith Finds A Director

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 26, 2012 at 8:31PM

I'm actually getting tired of talking about this project, and almost didn't post this new piece of news; alas, I am posting it.
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Uptown

I'm actually getting tired of talking about this project, and almost didn't post this new piece of news; alas, I am posting it.

Seems strange to me that it's taking so long for it to get off the ground.

Years ago, Will Smith expressed interest in remaking the Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby 70s film, Uptown Saturday Night. However, sadly for Smith, and despite sounding like a possible all-star African American Ocean’s Eleven-style romp, very little actually happened on the project since he acquired the rights, even though Smith had reportedly also talked with Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Denzel Washington about co-starring.

2 years ago, Warner Bros was on the hunt for a writer to rewrite the most recent draft of the script at the time, which was penned by Cop Out’s Mark and Robb Cullen. It looked like the project would surely happen, and was only a matter of when.

A year later, Warner Bros. and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment brought on comedy writer Tim Dowling to rewrite the Uptown Saturday Night script, with David Dobkin (who? Oh yeah, the guy who directed Shanghai Knights and Wedding Crashers) attached to direct.

Last I wrote about this earlier this year an update stated that writer Tim Dowling (This Means War) (who was hired last year to pen the script) had finished and turned it in, and that Will Smith and Denzel Washington were still very much attached to star in the roles originated by Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby in the 1974 film.

Here's what Dowling revealed about his take on the story:

"Will Smith is producing it. He hired me to write it because he liked the script for 'This Mean's War.' He and Denzel Washington grew up loving the original... It’s been a fun one to write, I just turned it in. We’re all hoping it’s something [Washington] wants do... the funny thing is, Will is so funny but hasn’t done a comedy in a while and Denzel I don’t think has ever done a comedy. I think the pairing would be great... David Dobkin is attached to direct it and hopefully we’ll get that going... The best way to describe it is a 'one crazy night' movie but it's not just one night... Both of the main characters are blue collar guys, one doesn’t get a promotion, one’s business isn’t doing great, they go out for a night and get caught up in something they need to find their way out of. It’s similar in tone to 'The Hangover.' I think it will be really fun."

Things that make you go hmmm, right? Obviously, still not a lot to go on here, so I'll reserve comment till we know more. I do like the emphasis on so-called "blue collar guys" though.

It's been announced today that Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) is signing on to direct the film, still with Smith and Washington starring, after he directs the sequel to Anchorman. which is expected to start shooting in 2013 for a 2014 release; so it looks like, as long as nothing more changes, we shouldn't expect to see the Uptown Saturday Night remake until at least 2014.

As an aside...  said it before, and I'm going to continue saying it. It's just baffling to me that throughout all these flip-flops of writers and directors, not one of the names mentioned is African American. Seriously though, these jobs really could have gone to a black writer and a black director, couldn't they? If only to keep it somewhat in the spirit that the first trio of films were made - all 3 directed by Sidney Poitier; 2 written by African American playwright Richard Wesley; the other by Charles Blackwell, also African American.

There certainly are a few of them (writers and directors of African descent) who could use the work, and I think do a serviceable job with the project.

It's one of those films that would be sold mainly on its big name stars, and not who's directing or writing it, so why not give a brotha or sistah a shot?

Of course I'm assuming that Will Smith and Denzel Washington combined are powerful enough in this industry to have some influence on who gets to write and/direct films they are in - this particular film anyway. Especially Will Smith. 

Anyway... so it goes... moving on... obviously the remake will likely diverge from the original storyline.

Stay tuned…


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