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Thoughts On Lifetime's Black Cinema Premiere Weekend? ('Carlina White Story' & 'Steel Magnolias')

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
October 8, 2012 10:05 AM
23 Comments
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Soooo... as noted in a post on Friday, it was a black cinema weekend on the Lifetime channel here in the USA, with 2 original films making their world premieres, headlining the network's Saturday and Sunday primetime schedule: the ripped from the headlines drama Abducted: The Carlina White Story, which aired on Saturday, October 6, at 8/7c; and the all-black Steel Magnolias remake (which aired on Sunday, October 7, at 9/8c).

Did you watch either, or both? I did, and, in short, my reaction was, well, it's the Lifetime channel.

But don't let my lack of enthusiasm dissuade you, if you haven't watched either of them yet (Lifetime will continue to re-broadcast both throughout the week, so you'll have other opportunities to watch - check the network's schedule for days and times; I know both films air back-to-back tonight, starting at 8pm with Steel, and then at 10pm with Abducted). After all, I'm really not in Lifetime's target audience, so these aren't movies that were made for me. If you've been a faithful Lifetime fan, you're probably already familiar with the brand, so you're either aboard for the ride, or you're not. 

If you tuned in, I'd love to read your thoughts on either or both movies, so feel free to dive in... (I should note that Steel Magnolias features Adepero Oduye's first released performance since her lauded debut in Pariah last year, and one of the reasons why I was interested in watching the movie; I wanted to see her in something else, since it's been awhile since I last saw Pariah - spring 2011)...

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23 Comments

  • Lori Balbach | October 29, 2012 9:33 PMReply

    I just saw the Lifetime movie last night about the Carlina White story. I do remember when this happened because i was living in NJ at the time and the case got a lot of coverage. I remember praying that the family would get their baby back. The movie was excellant and very well acted but I did find the ending a little confusing. Hopefully the family can work through their problems and be reunited. Those parents have been through so much already :(

  • Ella | February 10, 2013 4:20 PM

    Yes, I remember this story too. I was working at a county hospital in California at the time. To me the movie was "low-budget". It left out some key parts, but actors were great.

  • Catherine | October 28, 2012 3:15 PMReply

    It was nice to see two new movies with African American casts. Both movies received very good ratings and hopefully that will encourage Lifetime to premiere more movies that focus on woman of ALL ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Abducted: The Carlina White Story is definitely one of Lifetime's best movies; I have no major complaints. I think the ending could have been better though, it just seemed too abrupt. As for Steel Magnolias I was quite disappointed with the film. It was WAY too much like the original (i.e., scenes, script - especially the script, #fail)! As it was, the story just didn't ring true since the cast this time around consisted of women that would seemingly have different stories due to differences in racial background than members of the original cast. It's like they took the white women out and just plopped black women in their place. While there were a few scenes that were left out from the original, and new scenes added, there just wasn't enough "newness" to make the movie interesting. I think a better idea would have been to loosely base the movie off of the original, as a previous commenter also noted. Because this remake was so similar to the original it makes it easier to find fault with the performances and with the film overall. I know plenty of people who watched this version and weren't at all impressed. The only impressive aspect of the movie is the cast they selected. (Also, a lot of people had problems with the names. I think they could have changed the names.)

  • Blaze | October 10, 2012 11:52 AMReply

    Steel Magnolia really didn't do it for me. I didn't feel any emotional connections between the some of the actors and the characters they were playing. I did love Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad but there performances although compelling wasn't enough to carry the story. As mentioned below Abducted: The Carlina White story was quite compelling. Sherri and Aunjanue Ellis were both so good and so believable. I really would like to see an Emmy nod for either both ladies but especially Aunjanue who plained kill't it!

  • will | October 9, 2012 7:26 PMReply

    IT SUCKED BIG TIME!!

  • Tosha | October 9, 2012 3:33 PMReply

    I watched Steel Magnolias last night and I do have to admit, it wasn't as good as the original. Although it still made me cry when Shelby died and turned around again when Queen Latifah broken down. But still the original was the best. As far as the Carlina White Story...I really thought that was a great movie. I think Keke Palmer did a great job as well as everyone else.

  • dee | October 9, 2012 9:56 AMReply

    I love the Black Cinema weekend...Enjoyed the Carlina White Story. As for Steel Magnolias it is very hard to remake something that is a classic. I am slightly against remakes...because it never really measures up. I think it would have been a much better movie if they loosely based its story line on the original Steel Magnolias with a different name.

  • Melody | October 9, 2012 1:12 AMReply

    I also haven't seen the original Steel Magnolias. It's just one of those movies that's been in my Netflix queue for life. And while I will agree the Southern accents were atrocious (especially Jill Scott's!), I felt Queen Latifah gave the best performance out of all the other actresses. She was very believable to me as the matriarch. And while it wasn't the best movie ever and that stilted dialogue had me cringing, I appreciated seeing black women with money and businesses and jobs in loving relationships and talking sense to each other on TV. I hope the good ratings can inspire Lifetime to do more (and do better!). I caught the end of the Carlina White Story and was intrigued. I might try to catch the whole thing later this week.

  • Clayton | October 9, 2012 12:38 AMReply

    I didn't see the all-black Steel Magnolias remake. I caught the ending and didn't think much of it. But I watched Abducted: The Carlina White Story right after and for a TV movie, it was better than I expected. I agree with Crystal, it was well acted and directed. Aunjanue Ellis was amazing and it would be nice if she worked more. Like Zeus, I was left with questions, rather I felt certain things needed to play out to some conclusion or would've been better if we saw them. But it was engaging and some moments in the film moved me in ways I didn't expect. *** of 4 stars.

  • Bklyn Negress | October 8, 2012 10:23 PMReply

    I tried to watch Steel Magnolias but it didn't hold my attention. To be fair, I recently re-watched the original, which I remember loving, and I was disappointed. For me, it doesn't hold up.

  • PeaceSeeker | October 8, 2012 10:19 PMReply

    Saw 'Abducted' over the weekend and all I have to say is Aunjanue Ellis is a beast. I'm truly hoping to see an Emmy nod come down for that performance.

  • JMac | October 8, 2012 6:36 PMReply

    I expected Steel Magnolias to be the better movie. It was a throwaway movie. I agree with Demi - terrible to watch, word for word script from the original with just a few minor changes (ooh, they mentioned facebook :p). I thought they would transform the work - instead they just hired black women to play white Louisianian (sp?) women. I wanted to punch Jill Scott in the face she was so annoying but I place the blame on the director and the (ha ha) writer and of course whoever thought it would be a great idea to do a verbatim reproduction of a popular film. I was not great fan of the original Steel Magnolias but it was still a good movie. This one sucked @$$, pardon my french. Couldn't bear to watch the whole thing. I switched back and forth between SM and reruns of Project Runway. Tuned in for the final scene and felt absolutely nothing. I feel so sorry for all those actresses. The Carlina White Story was a typical lifetime movie and KeKe Palmer did a good job. All of them did a decent job, really.

  • zeus | October 8, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    The Carlina White Story left me with questions. I think it was edited wrong. Sherri Sheperd surprisingly was good. Steel Magnolias was OK. Alfre Woodard carried the film in the beginning. Phylicia Rashad can do no wrong. Everyone else did their job well.

  • Jeni | October 8, 2012 7:21 PM

    Right after the Saturday viewing of "Abducted," there was a behind the headlines documentary that featured the real Carlina/Nette and both groups of family members telling the story from their POV. I'm sure Lifetime will air it again.

  • politicallyincorrect | October 8, 2012 4:38 PM

    Its not the editing, even in real life it seems hard to get the truth or the real story about how things played out in this case

  • Crystal | October 8, 2012 3:33 PMReply

    The Carlina White story was surprisingly well-directed and acted. I know I'm not the only one who got choked up multiple times during the movie. Engrossing. One of the few black movie moments which my mom and I (so good, I had to check in with her to see if she watched it) have both viewed positively in a LONG time.

    Steel Magnolias felt really unnecessary and flat in comparison to the '90s version. I'm originally from the deep south, and with the exclusion of Ms. Rashad, none of the actresses came off as being authentically southern to me--thin or exaggerated accents. I just didn't fall in love with the characters, and changed channels after about an hour.

  • Ashley | October 8, 2012 3:17 PMReply

    I was just happy to see beautiful women of color on my tv screen this weekend. I wanna see more of them there. Phylicia Rashad REFUSES to age. That woman is GORGEOUS. Alfre Woodard always makes me smile, I love her to pieces. Condola Rashad is a refreshing new comer. Can't wait to see more from her. Aunjanue Ellis is ALWAYS magnificent. Keke Palmer was perfect. Kudos to EVERYONE!

  • Anastasia | October 8, 2012 2:27 PMReply

    I had never seen the original "Steel Magnolias" so I had no comparison to make. Overall, this movie seemed to be missing something. Like, the acting was just okay and I just couldn't get into it. I had high expectations because I know people that claim the original as their FAVORITE MOVIE. If I had not watched it, I wouldn't have been sad.

    Now The Carlina White Story? I really enjoyed it. I am a SUPER FAN of Aunjanue Ellis (She played Ann Pettway, the mother that abducted Carlina) and I thought she really gave me a nuanced performance on a network that often times gets by with subpar performance. I enjoyed it and her performance!

  • Sabrina | October 8, 2012 11:36 AMReply

    I watched Steel Magnolias. What exactly was the reason they had to remake an already great movie? Especially since they used much of the original script verbatim, only updating it with sparse references to Facebook and texting. And since this new version is made-for-TV, they can't use the few colorful words used in the original. (Drum tells Ouiser she looks like "doo doo???") In the original, Annelle is having a wedding shower, not a baby shower, so it makes sense when Ouiser gives her a sexy nighty, but in this version, why would she give Annelle lacy underwear for a baby shower?! Why not just make an original movie rather than degrade a wonderful movie?

  • SelfHate | October 9, 2012 12:33 PM

    It is hard to get original work greenlit because sisterhood is like the Easter bunny. Why turn a book into a movie? Why turn a play into a movie? Why did Raisin in the Sun come on television? Reality shows are popular because people thrive on others misery. Old black women go to as many funerals as possible. How can talented much more attractive black women ever live up to their white counterparts?

  • Akimbo | October 8, 2012 10:51 AMReply

    Only saw bits and pieces of Carline White, but seemed like it was on par with your typical "true story" Lifetime movie. Even though I tried to keep my expectations low for Steel Magnolias, it was disappointing. The whole thing felt scant, from the characters to the relationships to the onscreen events (we barely saw anything happen). You don't really get to have the Waiting to Exhale/YaYa Sisterhood bonding moment at the end if we haven't really seen you go through anything. Seriously, the only developments that played out onscreen were Shelby's attack and her death. Condola Rashad is lovely, but her Shelby was unlikable, more petulant than endearing. Going into the movie, I had doubts about Queen Latifah playing a mother to someone so old, and I ended up believing it, but her emotional scene near the end was no. Alfre was good as Ouiser and I can only imagine how great she would have been in a better movie. I'm not at all a fan of Kenny Leon's direction on the stage, but here, it was serviceable. I guess kudos for that.

  • Vanessa Martinez | October 8, 2012 10:37 AMReply

    I enjoyed it. It's the Lifetime Channel; so as a TV film, it was a much more condensed, simplified version. Some scenes lacked the punch of the original, and had a scripted delivery quality to them; but overall I was touched. Queen Latifah was great; she's not Sally Field but she doesn't have to be. In a way, I'm glad she didn't do the breakdown scene the same way Field did hers. I kept thinking, is she going to scream out "WWHHHYYYY??!" It would've been too awkward though, so she played it down a bit. Loved Condola Rashad and Alfre. Was it necessary? Probably not. Still liked it.

  • Demi | October 8, 2012 10:10 AMReply

    It was painful to watch..... no originality. They copied the script verbatim. I just felt like same movie but with a black cast. I was very disappointed. However I feel Alfre Woodard and Jill Scott did a good job.

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