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Original 'Steel Magnolias' Producer Files Suit To Stop Release Of All-Black Remake (Rights Issues)

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 2, 2012 4:22 PM
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From a THR report: Victoria L. White, who was an executive producer (along with the late Ray Stark) of the original 1989 Steel Magnolias film that the upcoming all-black remake is based on, filed a lawsuit yesterday, against Lifetime Entertainment, A&E Networks and Sony Pictures Television, claiming that the an upcoming Lifetime TV movie was produced without her permission, or an agreement for the rights to remake the film.

The suit, (which you can read in full HERE) says the following:

- That White acquired rights that were the basis of the 1989 movie starring Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton and others, and that she developed it with Stark -- who died in 2004 -- and others.

- That in 1991 Sony acquired Rastar Productions, which was Stark’s company.

- That there was a 1992 CBS movie based on the same material and she was credited as a co-producer.

- That she is entitled to a producing credit on the new TV movie or series of movies and compensation of $5,000 per episode plus a $10,000 bonus, and a share of net profits.

- The defendants told White her rights to a TV version were limited to the 1992 TV movie, but she says that's not the case, and that she is entitled to royalties on all future TV versions.

- She asks the court to stop the release of the new Lifetime movie unless she gets a screen credit and her compensation.

In the suit, White says that she was “shocked and dismayed” when she found out about the upcoming Lifetime remake of the same name.

Will she get what she asks for? Probably not. It's unclear why she waited until 5 days before the film's premiere to file this suit. We've been talking about the film since last year; surely she must have known it was coming.

The world premiere of Lifteime's all-black cast remake of Steel Magnolias is set for this Sunday, October 7, at 9/8c.

The ensemble cast includes: Queen Latifah (she's also executive producer) as M'Lynn, Alfre Woodard as Ouiser, Phylicia Rashad as Clairee, Jill Scott as Truvy, Adepero Oduye as Annelle and Rashad’s daughter, Condola Rashad as Shelby. 

The film is directed by Kenny Leon (ABC's A Raisin in The Sun, Broadway's Fences and The Mountaintop), from a script adapted from the 1989 film screenplay by Sally Robinson.

Supporting each other through their triumphs and tragedies, they congregate at Truvy’s beauty shop to ponder the mysteries of life and death, husbands and children - and hair and nails - all the important topics that bring women together.

Lance GrossTory Kittles and Michael Beasley co-star.

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  • actright | October 8, 2012 6:45 PMReply

    So glad the movie had its permiere as scheduled. Big congrats to the leading cast of the movie. It was just as touching as the original. Condola Rashad was just as contagious as Julia Roberts. I cried, I smiled, I laughed. It was great and yes sometimes a different look at a movie with a different cast can make a great watch. As this movie is not racially motivated, you can have a mixed cast and if the acting is good, the story will tell itself.

  • Chuck | October 7, 2012 9:43 AMReply

    Why did Indiewire have to mention the "all-black cast"? I have a feeling other sites that report this will do the same thing to attempt to stir up an argument about racism. The author isn't racist- she just wants to be recognized for her work being used.

  • JMac | October 3, 2012 7:27 PMReply

    Well, if they can do it to the woman "The Help" was based on why not this chick? At least it isn't her life story being retold.

  • JMac | October 6, 2012 9:30 PM

    Oh, and the court threw out her case so I guess proper protocol was followed :)

  • JMac | October 6, 2012 9:28 PM

    That's not what the real Abilene claimed so it just depends on who you believe. But to be more accurate, The Help woman sued because her name and likeness was used in the book without her permission. The point is one dispute was personal while in the present situation it just seems like this woman is mad for not getting her cut and screen credit. I daresay more people would be more upset in the former situation than the latter.

  • Emma | October 6, 2012 7:52 PM

    The Help is a novel by Katherine Stockett. She gave full permission and also collaborated in the producing of the film. Both The Help and Steel Magnolias are movies based on works of fiction, so no one was shorted in the making of The Help. I don't know how I feel about the producers retaining rights to SM, don't care too much to be honest, but just wanted to clarify that no one's life story has been stolen in either case. There was no bathroom revolution - Stockett made it up. That is all. :)

  • Donella | October 3, 2012 5:47 PMReply

    I'm not a fan of the original. Never felt the need to watch after Terms of Endearment drained me.

  • Nadell | October 3, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    Did they not expect this??? The concept is unorignal - remakes are unnecessary - is it so difficult to be creative? The original producer probably is steam pressed with there being an all black would the black community feel if "The Color Purple" were remade with an all white cast???? Or if "Cleopatra Jones" were remade with Uma Thurman as Jones....does not sit well.
    Classics should remain untouched.

  • SomSom | October 3, 2012 10:22 AMReply

    Well, who cares if she knew then or just found out recently? The point is they didn't get permission. The is a film that should never be remade, period. It is an amazing film (the original), so why do it again? I would hope she wins, but who knows. I won't be watching the 'new' version.

  • Stacie | October 3, 2012 7:49 AMReply

    So what if she knew about it already. I don't think that means she can't wait and sue at the most opportune time. I would think that the lawyers and producers at Lifetime and Sony pictures did their due diligence in clearing the rights to the material but sometime they pay just to shut people up. It could be just for the publicity. I side with the people who say stick to original material. At least find something that isn't already so well known and beloved.

  • NO BRAINER | October 3, 2012 12:51 AMReply

    As much as Tambay and S&A want to doubt this woman's claim, it sounds as if she has a legitimate case. It doesn't matter her reasons for now coming out with her complaint, unless it can be proven that she did know of the project a year ago and is now trying to profit off of some lawsuit.

  • zeal | October 2, 2012 11:47 PMReply

    This is just to create buzz and publicity about the film. A made up story. Next......

  • Emma | October 6, 2012 7:56 PM

    Ya know - you're probably exactly right!

    I watched a program the other night that was advertised as a dedication to teachers - turned out it was an hour ong advertisement for a movie shrouded in BS.

  • Miles Ellison | October 2, 2012 11:32 PMReply

    She was "shocked and dismayed" when she found out the movie had black people in it. Fixed. You're welcome.

  • Emma | October 6, 2012 7:57 PM

    I really don't think it's a race issue. It's just a story about southern women more than any other attribute. I think she's steamed because they didn't ask permission and that is proper protocal in a remake.

  • ALM | October 2, 2012 11:10 PMReply

    She must have purposely waited until the film's release so that she could get more attention placed on her lawsuit. Otherwise, why didn't this case arise last year?

  • NO BRAINER | October 3, 2012 12:54 AM

    Now prove she purposely waited until now... That's all anyone has to do...

  • D.C. Kirkwood | October 2, 2012 10:35 PMReply

    LMAO.!! I don't know where she's been but I don't think she going to get a dime. Plus, this movie looks like it was made on a shoe string budget. Her lawyers fees are not even worth the trouble.

  • PA | October 2, 2012 11:01 PM

    Just ruthless.

  • No | October 2, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    Well, this is what happens when you don't come up with your own original material.

  • NO BRAINER | October 3, 2012 12:53 AM

    It was bound to happen and whether this woman wins or lose, it will happen again, and again... #originalmaterialyoulazy*bleeps*

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