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A Serial Adaptation Of Spike Lee's 'She's Gotta Have It' Is Coming To Showtime

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
May 5, 2014 9:22 PM
10 Comments
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she's gotta have it

Whoa! I definitely didn't see this coming! 

In short, Spike Lee is teaming up with Showtime to develop a half-hour TV series based on his cherished, though problematic feature film debut, She's Gotta Have It

This was the film that essentially introduced Spike Lee to the world (Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads aside, which won the Student Academy Award and got Spike an agent); a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011.

It's also a film that was initially given an X-rating by the MPAA. Why? The exact quote, according to Spike, was that the MPAA said it was "saturated with sex."

Thus Spike had to re-edit the film three times, and still then it was considered too risque; So he released it first in New York unrated, but was contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated movie, if he wanted to get paid, and eventually did.

What was Spike's response to the whole thing?

"I don't think it's out-and-out racist, but the film portrays blacks outside stereotypical roles, and they don't know what to do with blacks in films. They never have any love interests. Nick Nolte is the one who has a relationship in 48 Hours. And when it comes to black sexuality, they especially don't know how to deal with it. They feel uncomfortable. There are films with more gratuitous sex and violence. 9 1/2 weeks got an "R." And look at Body Double."

How little has changed in 25 years! There's still very much this suppression of *black sexuality* in mainstream cinema, so much that some of our stars seem to have even given up, or given in to these tacit "agreements," if we can call them that.

I'd say that since the Blaxploitation period ended, black sexual expression has been noticeably absent from mainstream cinema.

The Showtime adaptation will likely be set in the present day, and given that it's on cable TV (premium at that), I expect Spike will deliver something for adults, "saturated with sex," etc. But seriously, I'd expect that a She's Gotta Have It written and directed by a much older, wiser, and mature Spike Lee will certainly be different than the 1985 version that we're all familiar with, and that saw its fair share of criticism. 

It's too early to tell what story the serial adaption will tell, and whether the same characters, played by Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell and Lee himself, will be updated for the series, or if this will be something entirely new and fresh.

Stay tuned...

By the way, if you still haven't read it, I can't recommend enough that you do: Spike Lee's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking; Think of it as the godfather of the S&A Filmmaker Diary series in book form.

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10 Comments

  • dee | May 8, 2014 4:14 PMReply

    Interested to see what the story line will be. Will check it out.

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 6, 2014 12:59 PMReply

    Man this is SO ON POINT! I know my friends gon say I’m a SPIKE LEE “Stan”, but whatever man. I’m applauding the overall potential of this series.

    I’ve studied film/media my whole adult life (on an academic level as well) and I’ve always focused on African Americans in media. I looked over my school work and thought “Damn, I was REALLY BLACK in my papers/scripts”. I went to a PWI so I think I thought I had to represent. Case in point my Senior Thesis was “Getting Black to the Cosby Show” about how black the show was—and it was!

    Anyway, I’ve also bemoaned the “castration of the black man” in film/TV. A brother NEVER had sex in film unless it was a black one and on TV? Forget about it!

    I remember a young BLAIR UNDERWOOD, one of the stars of ‘L.A. Law’ complaining that while EVERYBODY on the show was having sex (even the old dude) his character wasn’t doing shit! They threw him a bone and gave him ONE bedroom scene (with RENEE JONES), but it was post coital. Believe me as a fan of the show THAT was the first time he even showed signs of any sex on with his character. #TrustAndBelieve

    I have to give props though to ‘NYPD Blue’ though, while JIMMY SMITS was having TONS of sex on the show, they threw HENRY SIMMONS several bones and they showed him partially nude with a partially nude GARCELLE BEAUVAIS. As a heterosexual man I didn’t care about Henry’s nudity like that, but as a black filmmaker I did!

    Full disclosure, the writer/director is a personal friend of mine, but ‘MR. SOPHISTICATION’ starring HARRY LENNIX was great because it showed his character having sex with several women and you NEVER saw him in that light. At the director said at a recent screening “Harry always played the authoritarian” like he does currently on ‘The Blacklist’.

    LASTLY, As Tambay said “By the way, if you still haven't read it, I can't recommend enough that you do: Spike Lee's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking; Think of it as the godfather of the S&A Filmmaker Diary series in book form.” IT REALLY IS!

    I got the book from the library and stopped reading it, because I knew I wanted to BUY IT! THAT’S how on point it was! Let the Spike Lee Stan jokes continue…

  • Jug | May 6, 2014 1:39 PM

    Me too! I'm wondering what the issue was with that, because a number of networks were trying to copy the success of THE WIRE and this seemed tailor made.

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 6, 2014 1:27 PM

    I feel you JUG! I'm still dying to see DA BRICK pilot. I hope they put it out in some form soon. In the current climate I'd pay to see/rent it on VOD.

  • Jug | May 6, 2014 1:23 PM

    I'm REALLY interested in this! Such a good movie, for many reasons, and on the sneak this might be the best (most promising) project Spike has done outside of documentaries in almost a decade. Go Spike!!

  • michele | May 6, 2014 10:06 AMReply

    Interesting. I've heard of the film of course but I've never seen it. Will definitely check out the series when it debuts.

  • @JayTeeDee | May 6, 2014 9:48 AMReply

    This will make me subscribe to Showtime

  • Daryl | May 5, 2014 11:03 PMReply

    I will definitely check this out, finally a tv series that show black folks doing different things you don't usually see, by the way she's gotta have it started all the sex comedies films in the 90' s until now, the film birth the kevin smith and judd apthow films, along with countless others, all these films go back to She's Gotta Have It.

  • Stacie | May 6, 2014 10:21 AM

    @JOE She's Gotta Have It did indeed inspire Kevin Smith and many other indie filmmakers that came afterwards. Smith has said so in interviews.

  • joe | May 6, 2014 1:20 AM

    shes gotta have it started kevin smith and judd "apthow"? you sir are uneducated and will fall for anything. kickstart much?

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