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Dyn-o-mite? Sony Pictures Is Developing A Feature Film Based On 'Good Times'

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 12, 2013 1:45 PM
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Good Times

Posted without comment... because, really, what is there to say? And no, it's not April 1st.

The breaking news below courtesy of Deadline:

Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin will turn the groundbreaking ’70s sitcom Good Times into a feature film. They’ve set a writer, Phil Johnston, whose most recent credits include Wreck-It Ralph and Cedar Rapids. Rudin will produce the family comedy with Eli Bush. While Rudin is selective about the remakes with which he becomes involved – Manchurian Candidate, Shaft and Sabrina – I think this has a lot of potential [...] The movie will be set in the 1960s, which gives Johnston a rich and politically charged period to mine. William Bannister, Michael Daniels and Neville Moguel will be associate producers and Eric Monte, Tammie Evans and Carlena Harris will be executive producers.

Ok, so I lied about posting without any commentary...

In all seriousness, however this turns out will depend on the approach the studio and producer take. Will it be a straight comedy, more of a drama, or a mixture of the two - a dramedy? Since it'll be set in the 60s, there'll be plenty of socially and politically-relevant material to mine. What will the story be exactly? Will all the characters from the TV series feature in the film? Questions, questions, questions...

So, let's see how the filmmakers plan to really tackle this, because it could go down any number of paths. For example, it could just be a straight drama with some comedic elements about a working class black family growing up in the 1960s, and that forms the base for whatever narrative they think up to build upon it, and the title Good Times, may be the only thing that it has in common with the TV series, assuming they opt to keep the same title.

But really, there are so many other stories to be told about the black experience in this country (many that aren't remakes of old TV series), that are set in the present-day (if you look at Hollywood studio output, you'd think there are so few contemporary stories about black people worth telling) that I don't quite get why this is the one that Sony and Scott Rudin chose. I'd love to chat with Rudin and get into his head about this, because I'm really curious as to what inspired him to want to tackle this particular TV show.

Needless to say, the producer and screenwriter are both white, and we can probably guess that the director will likely be white as well. I'll leave it to you guys to suggest actors for the various parts...

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  • J. "Vootie" Fred Muggs | March 19, 2013 4:17 AMReply

    Sadly, there is no actress in existence working today who can match Thelma Evans' fine-ness. Who, I ask you? Who!? NOBODY. These wispy stick-thin "actresses" working today can't hold a flame to Thelma. DAYAM that woman was FOINE, inside and out.

  • PERIL UNIVERSE | March 18, 2013 8:16 PMReply

    Uh, no! Make that, HELL NO! We don't need to go backwards. Besides, isn't there enough buffoonery in black films today? I could call out one black director in a dress, but I will digress. As a black filmmaker struggling to make it as the first sci-fi director on par with or surpassing the likes of James Cameron, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg I find this depiction of blacks a step in the wrong direction. We need to have a united voice on this one. How long will we smile and passively go along with these shenanigans? My grandmother always said people will only do to you what you allow them too. We can't expect the world to see us any differently if we support films that continue to degrade us. Art imitates life––so is this what the world really thinks of us? We know the media does, but really will we pay our hard earned money to support it? What message does that send our youth?

    Why are we even reading an article on it (smh)?

    CareyCarey your comment made me laugh so hard that I forgot that I was outraged, kudos to you sir.

    Please stop by and add your thoughts on a story worthy of our collective input here:

    Timothy Holloway

  • urbanauteur | March 16, 2013 12:32 PMReply

    Those producers should reference groundbreaking shows like OUR TOWN, BIRD OF A IRON FEATHER and of course THE WIRE mixed with a middle 90's TV show called THE SHOW, that starred soul train host-Mystro that would be good fodder.

  • Taz | March 14, 2013 1:50 AMReply

    I wish they never started showing reruns of the show. That is my story and it is enough to show my feelings on a movie based off the same.

  • CareyCarey | March 12, 2013 11:58 PMReply

    Let all sing together... Temporary layoff/ good times/ easy credit ripoff/ good times/ ain't we lucky we got them/ GOOD TIMES!

    WTH? What's good about easy credit ripoff! Did I hear a subliminal message? Living in the projects, jobless and dealing with booger nose Bookman and Dap 'Sugar' Willie, were good times, huh?

    How about this one, join in... Beans don't burn in the kitchen [no mo']/ grits don't burn on the grill [no mo']/ took a whole lot of crying/ just to get up that hill / now we up in the big league / took our our turn at bat/ it's you and me baby/ and ain't nothing wrong with that/..... We MOVIN' ON UP.

    Hold up, wait one minute, don't go anywhere. What the hell was "that"? I mean, to start with, George Jefferson was Archie Bunker's special kind of fool. Sure, George was given a bone by being allowed to say "HONKY HONKY HONKY". But what businessman runs around doing the slop and yelling honky?

    I know, this is "just" comedy, so what's wrong with bringing back all the blaxploitation series from the 70's (including Sanford & Son)? Can't we laugh one mo' again -- at ourselves -- for being dumb, poor, ignorant, used and abused?

    Well, it should be noted that Esther Rolle had become dissatisfied with the show's direction and at the end of the 4th season, she decided to leave the series. She wanted higher quality scripts and she also wanted the producers to make the character of J. J. more responsible as she felt the character was a poor role model for African American youths. So, which way will they go?

    I don't know, but I'll play along.

    Dave Chappelle as James "J.J." Evans, Jr

    Lorretta Devine as Florida Evans

    Cedric the Entertainer as Bookman

    Quvenzhane Wallis as Penny

    Terry Crews as James Evans, Sr.

    Monique as Willona Woods

  • CareyCarey | March 14, 2013 12:14 AM

    "There is plenty of white buffoonery in movies"

    The point is, it's seldom (if ever) used in a negative connotation toward white performers, or as a weapon against those who enjoy a particular brand of humor. Adam Sandler and SNL are not denigrated for making people laugh, are they?

  • CareyCarey | March 13, 2013 11:45 PM

    "There is plenty of white buffoonery in movies"

    Miles, that may be your perception and your interpretation, but as I suggested, it's seldom defined as such. So I don't understand what you mean by "willingness to engage in it"?

    Nevertheless, do you really believe, and are implying, that a black person's emotions, i.e., laughter, pain, sorry, intrique, etc, are somehow directly related to who they believe created the stimuli/image presented before them? If so, are you then suggesting that if we laughed and/or cried at an image on the screen, we wouldn't do so if we knew who controlled the image? WOW! So if we laughed at something, to later find out it was presented by a white person, we then would be guilty of what?

    Personally, I think it's the reverse. I believe their are those allow themselves to get caught-up in trivialities of what other folks are thinking, and thus, view some black humor through blue-eyed glasses. Personally I could care less about who presented an image, if it makes me cry, laugh or cringe, I'd do so, regardless of who was "controlling" said image. I believe it's safe to say most humans feel the same way.

    To believe otherwise could be viewed as an affront to the black man's ability to discern right from wrong. That takes me to something I've posted many times...

    "Many are ASHAMED of what we as black folk find funny because its so "Buffoonish" "VULGAR" and "LOW BROW." Eff that. I quite admire fanatical TP followers whose logic about why they like him steers far away from the intellectual pontification that "critical" film watchers give to describe and defend their film choices (i.e. present a case that shows that their tastes are less shame-inducing than the taste of others). It's called taste for a reason--my flavor ain't always your flavor--and I'm not about to sit up here and defend why I like salty and not sweet."

  • Miles Ellison | March 13, 2013 10:29 PM

    There is plenty of white buffoonery in movies. One needs to look no further than the oeuvre of Adam Sandler and the many other hack level movie "comics" that Saturday Night Live has produced over the last 20 years or so. The difference is that white entertainment is not defined by the willingness to engage in it. Personally, I think that black viewers are still gravitating toward this brand of entertainment because there is a perception that black people are controlling the images, and that makes it somehow inoffensive.

  • CareyCarey | March 13, 2013 9:02 PM

    "no matter how problematic, buffoonish, or stereotypical the context. Now that there are multiple outlets for more diverse entertainment, black people are still gravitating toward tried and true buffoonery. Go figure"?

    Well Miles, I believe the real problem (if there is one) can be found in the word "buffoonery". Among many in the black community, that word has been misconstrued and misused. I am suggesting that the word is seldom, if ever, used to describe any form of white humor/comedy. But for some strange reason it's used as a weapon of discontent by those who do not favor a popular brand of black comedy.

    So I agree, to some degree, the popularity -- by black viewers -- of the aforementioned series was do in part to limited exposure of black faces on TV. But the question still remains, why do we STILL adore that style of comedy? Even today, with 100 channels at the end of a click, the young and old alike will revisit the "Good Times", the loud mouth George Jefferson and the junk man who lived in his junkyard with his grown son.

  • Miles Ellison | March 13, 2013 7:37 PM

    Black people watched Good Times, Sanford & Son, and The Jeffersons because it was an opportunity to see black people on television, no matter how problematic, buffoonish, or stereotypical the context. Now that there are multiple outlets for more diverse entertainment, black people are still gravitating toward tried and true buffoonery. Go figure. When the Cosby show aired, there was more than a little criticism from black people about how unrealistic its portrayal of a black family was. Go figure again.

  • CareyCarey | March 13, 2013 9:16 AM

    ALM, my lady agrees with you. She said Monique has NO Willona in her. But see, since this is "MY" Good-times, it's only right that I be allowed to put my twist on the table. You know, you have to admit, changing times necessitates changing minds.

    I mean, back in the "good ol' days", as some would define them, three of the top ten highest-rated programs on American TV in one season centered around the lives of African-Americans: Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. Ouch!... good times in the good ol' days, huh? *wink*

    While we chew on that, it's interesting to note that most of the African American community loved those series, in-spite of their more "negative" on-goings. Why? Some have argued that the episodes were usually more uplifting and positive than they were depressing, as the Evans family sticks together and perseveres. Heck, even no-job-having James Evans was a man of pride and would often be heard saying "I ain't accepting no hand-outs."

    I know... and fat meat ain't greasy. But I'm left with the question of why were they so loved? Certainly it couldn't be that we were less educated, easily duped and as hungry as a person holding a tattered sign "will work for food."

    But you know what, speaking of positives and happy endings, it should be noted how the Evans family "changed" in it's last season when the ratings dipped below the bottom of hell. Then we all can decide if this is what we're now asking for? J.J. got a job as an artist for a comic book company with his newly created character, DynoWoman. Thelma married a Chicago Bears football player, moves to the upscale Gold Coast district, gets fat and has 5 babies. Florida moves in to help care for the children. Willona, still single, cuffs Penny and they too get a new apartment. Low and behold, it's in the same apartment building as Thelma and her family. And thus, once again, became the Evans' downstairs neighbors.

    **BotaBingBotaBoom** CANCELED! WHY?

  • ALM | March 13, 2013 7:27 AM

    No sir, don't burn our Miss Wallis (You can see that I have decided that the positive S & A posters have unofficially adopted her, LOL).

    Monique as Willona? I can't see it. Not even a little bit.

  • Akimbo | March 12, 2013 10:34 PMReply

    I just don't know why. Nobody's asking for this. I don't even see how it would work; going the Brady Bunch Movie route would be a HUGE mistake and Good Times was often so maudlin and preachy, a drama would be overbearing. I'ze confused.

  • Miles Ellison | March 12, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    There is no morsel of rotted TV carrion that Hollywood's golden toothpick cannot reach.

  • Ava | March 12, 2013 7:01 PMReply

    Poor Eric Monte. This must be akin to rubbing salt in a wound.

  • Ava | March 14, 2013 7:55 PM

    @JMAC. I guess I must really be thinking that they're going to do it without him and he might as well get something out of it. He probably really needs the money.

  • JMac | March 12, 2013 9:32 PM

    He's one of the executive producers so I guess he's okay with all of it.

  • Darryl | March 12, 2013 6:54 PMReply

    Another case of how the studio system feels about black films. The black audience is hungry for films about them that is diverse, instead of going that route to feed that market. Hollywood decides to do a remake of a black tv classic. I got a feeling the movie is going to be laced with stereotypes. Do you see any black writers that's involved that tells you all you need to know about this project. Hollywood has always had this idea that white folks is need to tell black stories before it is greenlit. If they do make the film I bet you it has a budget of at least 30 million dollars, while black writers and directors get budgets of 3 to 5 million dollars for their films. To the black directors, actors, and actresses, hollywood is not your friend, so stop trying to jump through a hoop to get their approval for what you are doing. Let's tell our stories and work together, that's when you are going to have change.

  • Damn. Damn. Damn! | March 12, 2013 6:19 PMReply

    Turning 'Good Times' into a movie: Bad Idea...Setting it in the 60s: Worse idea...Hiring a white writer to pen it: Horrendous idea...All of it is insulting. Way to go Hollywood.

  • me | March 12, 2013 5:47 PMReply

    i loved Good Times as a kid. as an adult, and what makes it funny now is that sense of nostalgia. once you start dissecting the show by modern politics. it becomes a tough swallow.

    james - hyper-masculine uneducated black buck, who rules his house with a loud voice and muscle

    florida - stay at home mom, who despite her families financial woes, refuses to get a job as to not bruise her husband's fragile ego

    j.j. - artistic, flamboyant and pure jive

    thelma - the voice of female power who never actually asserts any

    michael - the smartest, most politically conscience and also youngest member of the family. ouch.

    willona - lives in the projects while maintaining a free, name brand lifestyle. yet never uses her beauty or savvy to leave the ghetto? c'mon son.

    i think we're all scared at just how bad this could turn out.

  • ChgoSista | March 12, 2013 5:29 PMReply

    About the ONLY reason I'd want a movie version is so that [assuming he's brought back from the dead] James can LIGHT INTO KEITH'S ASS - because there was no earthly way in HELL that JAMES would've allowed his BUM ass to marry his daughter AND LIVE IN THE APARTMENT WITH THEM!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael A. Gonzales | March 12, 2013 4:53 PMReply

    I had a dream about this once (really) and JJ was played by Mos Def. As for this concept of setting Good Times in the '60s, I don't really understand the point.

  • willie dynamite | March 12, 2013 4:11 PMReply

    A Good Times movie... Development in the Hollywood Studio system is dead.

  • ALM | March 12, 2013 3:58 PMReply

    Why Jesus, Why? Since people swear that all of these movies boil down to money only, did they at least do a survey to see if the public is even interested in seeing this on screen?

    I know people in my family who grew up during that time period. Everyone did not like "Good Times". I have heard multiple people say that the show actually had very few good times, and a lot of what happened to the family was down right depressing.

    Based on the conversations that we have daily on this website, I feel as if the core audience (African Americans) are looking for something more positive and uplifting on the screen. We have done "the struggle" on screen forever. If I want to watch Black people struggle, all I have to do is walk around (unfortunately). I have no desire to watch "the struggle" on the big screen.

  • ALM | March 17, 2013 10:02 PM

    @ScriptTease: "I want to see some black love stories where that black man is moving heaven and earth for his black woman... that is what I want to see. I want to see a "Note Book", but on steroids".

    Yes!!! ^^^This!!! And when you find that Black man, please send him my way. LOL!!!!

  • ScriptTease | March 17, 2013 9:38 PM

    I promise, ALM I am working on a screenplay or two that I hope black people will enjoy. I too am tired of the "black struggles, the gang banging, the crack heads, the come to Jesus, the I was molested/raped”, I am tired. I want to see some black love stories where that black man is moving heaven and earth for his black woman... that is what I want to see. I want to see a "Note Book", but on steroids.
    My daddy (and yes that is what I call him) who loves History mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago about writing something dealing with black issues. I told him, black folks are tired of those types of films; at least I am. IMO, black people are tired of films that refer about race, so with that being said, I am trying my best, but it's hard out there for a writer, especially a black writer. Any who, hopefully everyone will know my name in the near future. "Dawn"

  • Donella | March 12, 2013 3:26 PMReply

    A Good Times film set in the 60s has already been done... A Raisin in the Sun.

  • shay | March 12, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    hate it. i loved the show, but i hate the idea of somebody trying to make it in to a movie. there is too great of a margin for error.

  • Aaron | March 12, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    This is going to be a comedy all of the way through. Just like Starsky and Hutch, 21 Jumpstreet, and those other remakes of old tv shows but since it will be black folks I expect some coonery and flat out disrespect of black folks in the name of comedy.

  • ChgoSista | March 12, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    Even if I WERE to entertain this foolishness, this should not even BE a thought. Esther Rolle is deceased—she’s the CORNERSTONE—she’s way too integral for this to even happen. OK—so Esther Rolle REALLY IS deceased, and “James” is deceased, but NOT John Amos—so WTF—what are we doing here????!!! WTF—we gon’ bring “James” back to life? He really didn’t die in a car crash in Mississippi? He “faked his death” cuz he had had enough of JJ’s ass? GTFOH!

  • BluTopaz | March 12, 2013 7:49 PM

    Maybe they can get zoe saldana to save some of her turbans from the Nina flick and cast her as Florida (running out of thread)

  • ALM | March 12, 2013 4:01 PM

    And are they going to have Janet Jackson returned to get burned by irons, hot rollers, curlers, hot plates......Based on the reruns, I am still traumatized to this day about that. Is Janet going to have to go upside Chip Field's head?

  • Anonymous | March 12, 2013 2:14 PMReply

    This is one of those things where you have to ask: If the late Esther Rolle is gone, why even bother? Don't mess with a classic. If the new film allows all the original surviving cast members to at least make cameo appearances, then maybe we can cut the producers some slack.

  • AI | March 12, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    I'm with you......... Why?

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