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An African American Remake Of "Steel Magnolias" In The Works For Lifetime TV

by Vanessa Martinez
October 11, 2011 10:50 AM
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According to Deadline, a remake of the 1989 tear jerker drama set in Louisiana, Steel Magnolias, is in the planning stages, with the casting of all African American actors to begin really soon. If you recall, Steel Magnolias starred Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Darryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts. The Lifetime original film, set to be directed by Kenny Leon (ABC's A Raisin in The Sun, Broadways' Fences and The Mountaintop), will be adapted from the 1989 film screenplay by Sally Robinson, and will be produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Sony Pictures TV.

Other productions that have been remade with all black cast include the musical The Wiz, based on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, and the Debbie Allen-directed Broadway production of Tennessee WilliamsCat On A Hot Tin Roof.

I'm not sure how I feel about this; I'm over remakes. However, I love the idea of the all black cast; although, it's too bad it seems like a faithful adaptation. I'm curious about who they will cast for the roles. Since I'm sure most of you have seen the original film, and are familiar with the story; who would you like to see in the roles?

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  • John wesley | February 17, 2013 8:53 PMReply

    Yeah, I would like to see white people in the roles that they were written for.

  • karin | October 16, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    i think they should cast "talented unknowns" for most roles.
    1 major player..... like , Jennifer Lewis as Shirley Mac Laine's Character.
    that would be good!
    I think unknowns would be a great idea cause all eyes will be watching.
    this is a great time to show talented actresses.
    Hollywood will say where did they find them?

  • Tamara | October 14, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    Next up:

    Terms of Endearment


    Fried Green Tomatoes

    *all of these films I've seen once and they were good films, made me cry, but I have never returned to them. Even with an all Black cast I don't think I would revisit. Good luck with the re-imagining though. It will be interesting to see who they cast.

  • Geneva Girl | October 12, 2011 10:08 AMReply

    Even though I don't see the point of this, I would rather it be more like the stage play than the movie. The play was witty and acerbic. I found the film to be too sweet.

  • theyounglion | October 12, 2011 8:09 AMReply

    Hi Misha. I just think Bond is what he is: a white Anglo, and all that entails. (Actually, the character is of Scottish and Swiss descent, according to the Ian Fleming novels and the Bond Family coat of arms from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".) I get what you're saying about them simply hiring a black actor instead of a white one. But I think that would betray the core character and what he is. The blond hair/blue eye thing is negligible.

    I just don't see why some of us are so stuck on them hiring a black actor to play an iconic white character. I'm more interested in seeing new black characters in new franchises. Or taking existing black characters and making new movies and TV shows and franchises out of them (like they're attempting to do with Easy Rawlins and Alex Cross). And yeah, I'd love to see a serious action film franchise about a super spy who is black. Or a movie about a group of Southern ladies who are black. Or a space adventure about rebels battling an evil empire where the central hero is black. I just think those things should be done with original stories and characters.

    James Bond isn't black. Neither is Luke Skywalker. Or Indiana Jones. Why do some of us think it's some kind of "victory" if they become black? I actually think it's a kind of defeat. (What, original black characters can't be made and marketed to success? We have to piggy-back onto established white characters with years of history behind them?) What I want to see happen is the creation of original characters that ARE black that become icons to generations of fans. Or the resurrection of established black characters (like Easy Rawlins or Alex Cross) that are given renewed life and are made into icons.

  • Mecca | October 12, 2011 7:42 AMReply

    @ The Film Student

    Great list!

    I would like to see CCH Pounder & Tangi Miller too! I have not seen them in a single film for a lonnnnnnggggg while.

    I agree w/ many of you we are messing up in sooooooooooooo many ways as a community when it comes on to portraying images & original stories of ourselves on screen.

  • thefilmstudent | October 12, 2011 6:58 AMReply

    Alright then, since nobody else has chimed in with casting sugestions, I'll take a stab at it.

    For M'Lynn: Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Charlayne Woodard, Kimberly Elise

    For Shelby: Jurnee Smollett, Keke Palmer, Naturi Naughton

    For Turvy: Debbi Morgan, Jackee Harry, Tyra Ferrell, Khandi Alexander, Sheryl Lee Ralph

    For Ouiser: Irma P. Hall, Cicely Tyson, Alfre Woodard, CCH Pounder, Loretta Devine, S. Epatha Merkerson

    For Clairee: Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, Mary Alice, Diahann Carroll

    For Annelle: Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Nicole Beharie, Regina Hall, Tangi Miller, Rochelle Aytes

  • misha | October 12, 2011 4:49 AMReply

    "James Bond is not black, and he never should be."

    LOL Oh really? Listen, I'm with you on not liking the fascination with wanting to see black versions of this and that. But saying Bond should never be black is just as silly as the "outrage" over a blonde-haired, blue-eyed James Bond.

  • misha | October 12, 2011 4:35 AMReply

    "This is almost as stupid as a black James Bond (which is THE dumbest idea floating around these days, by the way)."

    Umm, I really don't see the comparison. They wouldn't be remaking James Bond by casting a black actor since it's a franchise and changing actors is standard practice. They'd simply be hiring a black actor instead of a white one.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed Steel Magnolias. Don't really care to see a remake but I'm curious to see what Kenny Leon and Lifetime come up with.

  • theyounglion | October 12, 2011 2:27 AMReply

    I agree with most of the folks here (especially IJ Clinton). Why not do a film with characters that are created with blacks originally in mind, instead of sticking black faces onto pre-existing white characters?

    This is almost as stupid as a black James Bond (which is THE dumbest idea floating around these days, by the way).

  • theyounglion | October 12, 2011 2:20 AMReply


    I didn't care so much for Jaden Smith in "The Karate Kid". I don't like remakes so much and, pretty much like IJ Clinton was saying, I want to see blacks playing original characters rather than just "a black version of..." We can do better than second-hand.

    However, I do appreciate how the Smith version of "The Karate Kid" put a black character in an international context, and how the film itself helped expose the lie that films starring blacks don't play overseas. So aside from my creative reservations, I give the film it's props for those important things.

    (That's a whole other discussion, though, because I think the original "The Karate Kid" should've been about a black kid, just like I feel the original "Saturday Night Fever" should've been about a black or Latino central character. In the 70's and 80's it was the black community that was originally into martial arts and supporting martial arts film. Just as the disco scene in New York City was originally a multicultural scene with blacks and Latinos at the center. But, in true Hollywood fashion, when they made their movies about those things they cast white actors.)

    James Bond is another matter altogether. We're talking about an iconic character who is NOT black. He is what he is...a white guy. Making him black is a stupid, stupid idea. Does this mean I don't want to see a black super spy who has great adventures and saves the world? Of course I want to see that. But how about creating an original character who is black, and then establishing that character? The character could be launched from the James Bond series (like they were at one time thinking of doing with Halle Barry's character Jinx), or it could be done in its own universe. Idris Elba would be great for THAT.

    I just think it's pathetic that we're clamoring for "black versions" of established white characters, instead of getting behind the creation of characters that are originally black. Again, IJ Clinton said it best: Is that the extent of our aspirations?

    James Bond is not black, and he never should be.

  • Tessa | October 12, 2011 1:38 AMReply


    I guess you hated Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid, huh?

    I like remakes if done well. And I look fwd to Idris as Bond. *shrugs*

  • berly | October 12, 2011 1:15 AMReply

    This movie is a classic chick flick and should not be remade. The wiz pissed me off too! I guess this guy has a problem in finding his own material

  • JMac | October 12, 2011 1:10 AMReply

    Damn blaqbird you got me all curious. I knew I shouldn't have clicked that link. The (white) natives are restless;)

    I liked the original. Not sure who thought doing a black remake was a good idea. I think The Wiz (the movie version) sucked. I've never been able to watch it all the way through without falling asleep - even with Michael Jackson in it.

    However, who knows it might come out okay. Couldn't be any worse than the terrible movies Lifetime shows right now.

  • blaqbird | October 11, 2011 12:37 PMReply

    Yeah, there's really no need for this at all... But I'm not even gonna lie; as an actress, I would totally love the opportunity to audition for something like this...just sayin....

    And I read the comments on Deadline; big mistake.... -_-

  • IJ Clinton | October 11, 2011 12:22 PMReply

    @jessie’s girl: Oh, and I mean no disrespect about your love of Steel Magnolias in calling it pedestrian. I happened to like the critically panned Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats, so hey, different strokes. :-) I do happen to think the Steel cast delivered.

  • IJ Clinton | October 11, 2011 12:17 PMReply

    @jessie's girl: Exactly! That's what I immediately thought about this, and it's the reaction I have whenever I hear about similar projects. Why can't it just be about a group of middle-aged to elderly black women? I mean Steel Magnolias is certainly not the standard bearer for all stories female and of a certain age.

    I'm also annoyed when I hear fellow blacks say things like, "I wanna see a black version of ... ." Fill in the blank with a movie or sometimes TV show with a mostly non-black cast -- even when the original was rather pedestrian in the first place, as was Steel Magnolias. That's the extent of our aspirations? It's as if many don't even consider that a predominately black production can have an original premise. Pass the headache pills. lol

  • jessie's girl | October 11, 2011 10:58 AMReply

    WHY??????? I love the original and it doesn't need to be remade and I too am sick of the remakes. Why can't "we" make our own original projects?

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