A Remake Of ‘Mahogany’ Is In Development Courtesy Of de Passe-Jones Entertainment

A Remake Of 'Mahogany' Is In Development Courtesy Of de Passe-Jones Entertainment

This is news to me, even though it was apparently announced last fall; although a Google search revealed zero links to sites that picked up on the news – other than the site on which it originates.

So there I was researching for another post – specifically, in light of the Sparkle remake currently in theaters, I thought I'd take a look at a short list of other somewhat similar 1970s black cinema classics that could very well also be attractive enough to a studio as potential remake project.

On my list of films was 1975's Mahogany, the Berry Gordy-directed drama which starred a post-Lady Sings The Blues Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.

Mahogany told the story of an aspiring designer from the slums of Chicago, who puts herself through fashion school in the hopes of becoming one of the world's top designers. However, her ambition leads her to Rome, spurring a choice between the man she loves or her newfound success.

In considering the possibility of a studio considering a Mahogany remake, I did some research – research that eventually led me to the website of de Passe-Jones Entertainment, the production company belonging to former Motown executive and now TV and film producer, Suzanne de Passe and Phillip Madison Jones.

On their website was a press release which stated the following:

Newly formed de Passe-Jones Entertainment principals Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones (Currently producing the Martin Luther King biopic with Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks) have obtained the rights to the Diana Ross Billy Dee Williams classic MAHOGANY, from the film’s director and rights holder Mr. Berry Gordy.

Naturally, I immediately dug through the S&A archives to see if this was something we'd covered already. But I found nothing. Then I performed a Google search to see if this was being reported anywhere else, and also found nothing.

The press release, which was much longer than what I have above, wasn't dated, so I had to do a bit more digging to eventually learn that it was announced in September of 2011 – almost a year ago.

It's odd that no one seems to have picked this up; even we apparently missed it. Or maybe de Passe-Jones Entertainment didn't shout the news from rooftops. 

I then remembered that, just about a month later, after the Mahogany press release was posted on their website, it was announced that Suzanne de Passe signed a 3-year "first-look" deal with Universal Pictures, via her de Passe-Jones Entertainment production company; basically, Universal has the right of "first refusal" on projects de Passe Jones proposes to develop. And if Universal, after "first-looking" at the proposed project, isn't interested and decline to back it, then de Passe Jones can offer it up to another studio, or interested company.

Given the timing of both events (the announcement of the remake and the deal with Universal), I'd be willing to bet that the project is likely being housed at Universal Pictures right now.

The press release goes on to say:

The production team is in the process of seeking a writer, or writer/director, to bring to the project. de Passe-Jones and Amber [Entertainment] will be jointly financing 50% of the development and production thought to be in the $25 million dollar range.

At the tail end of the release were these quotes from involved parties:

We are excited to bring a remake of this classic film to a whole new audience and are grateful to Mr. Gordy for his trust” said Madison Jones. “There are so few female driven stories for African American actors and this is great material, with issues that are as relevant today as they were in the 70’s”, said Suzanne de Passe. “The heart of Mahogany is a story about making your dreams come true, and that is as relevant and urgent today as ever. And with platforms such Project Runway, BET, MTV, VH1 and the like, the capacity to deliver and expand the film’s audience has never been stronger”, said Ileen Maisel and Mark Ordesky [Amber Entertainment].

So here we are; it's not clear where exactly the project stands currently. A writer and/or director was being sought as of the press release last fall, but I couldn't find anything that suggests any attachments, both in front and behind the camera.
 

It's worth noting that in June of this year, Wendy Williams Productions and de Passe-Jones Entertainment partnered up to jointly develop and distribute original projects for both the big and small screens; the first project announced under that agreement was a TV movie/series based on Star Jones' novel Satan's Sisters.

The original Mahogany produced the hit theme song, Do You Know Where You’re Going To.

Written by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin, the track was nominated for the Best Original Song Academy Award.

So, a Mahogany remake is definitely in the works; now we know. It's just a matter of where it currently stands, when we'll eventually see it, and, most curiously, who will star in it. 

A few of actresses have expressed interest in playing the lead role over the years, if a remake were to ever come to pass (this was even before de Passe-Jones announced its plans for a remake).

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Comments

Josh

This would be a great starring vehicle for Fantasia and Jamie Foxx.

Preciouslyme

I loved the movie, though I watched it thinking i would get to see Whitney shine one last time, but it wasnt about her at all, I loved this movie though I did not see the original but it was so convicing I started Googling the real Sparkle only to see its a remake of a made up story. lol fooled me but I loved it so much I think I will watch it again :)

Tom

The Sparke remake is a great movie. I think the main problem was that the trailers were boring and made it seem like it's a long music video. I can bet you that if they showed the dinner scene or the big fight scene or the drug scenes in the trailers, the movie would have grossed twice. People usually like either comedies or actions. Sparkle's trailers were too light. Sparkle should have been a bigger hit, but the black community prefers to see themselves talking loud and being put in stereotypical roles like Madea. Even Think Like A Man (even though a great movie) was promoted in the trailers with stereotypical jokes (basketball trash talk, cheating, wanting to do someone else's mother, etc.). Of course the fact that it had 2 white males in lead roles also helped it crossover. Sparkle didn't have that.

Sparkle was promoted as a classy black movie and it failed to make a big impact at the box office, black people let it down. But most importantly they let themselves down. What they will get is Madea 5 and Think Like A Man 2, with mores stupid jokes. Even the Lucas was worried about Red Tails, because he knows that the black audience isn't interested in great stories. Watch Sparkle, it's amazing, much better than the original. Great acting, great drama, great message, great music.

Jill

Mahogany was a fun chick flick made to high standards. It also featured a classy lead character. I don't think the mainstream movie industry is capable of depicting a black woman in a classy fashion these days – not unless Tyler Perry or someone like that does it. Otherwise, every image is either slutty or stupid or both. Oh, and Mahogany was not a light-skinned woman with Asian hair extensions like most black female stars today. She was the black girl next door who made it on talent and moxie. I loved that she was a smart, educated woman from the 'hood. That is reality.

And those advocating for the Coldest Winter Ever – great book, but do you really believe Hollywood would make it or market it as anything other than a film about how hopeless, criminal, and slutty black people – especially women – are? Is there really a shortage of those films??

Archangel2020

Well, guess I'll add my two cents worth to this. I could only see if the casting as Gilchrist described, although I think there are a number of young black actresses that would be up to doing the role, Kerry Washington comes to mind. No offense to Traci Ellis Ross, I think she's a good actress, I don't know if she would be up to doing this role. Also why should she be up for consideration just because she's Diana Ross's daughter?

Now to my main beef, why can't projects like Sister Soulja's The Coldest Winter Ever and Standing At The Scratch Line by Guy Johnson and its sequel be taken on as movie projects? I know the answer. Because Hollywood likes remakes because like sequels they supposedly have built-in audiences. One should look at the recent release of Sparkle to see that's not a given. Now Sparkle's sub-par performance can be blamed on a lot of maybes. Could have been the time of the year it was released. Everyone knows it's pretty much the kiss of death to release a movie that's not a franchise film during the summer and it could have been a number of issues that won't bother going into.

I think in the long run, if we want to see projects like The Coldest Winter Ever and Standing At The Scratch Line, they will probably have to independently made and financed because Hollywood sure as hell ain't gonna do em'!

Gilchristsays

This is one of the many classic black films that should be left alone. It is a complete project as is! That being said, if they MUST remake the film, I hope they stick to the original storyline (unlike Sparkle) and, in my opinion, the only person who could effectively recreate the role of Tracy originally played by Diana Ross is the obvious choice of her real life daughter, Traci Ellis Ross. Omari Hardwick would be delicious in the role of Brian (originally played by Billy Dee Williams) and Jake Gyllenhall cast in Anthony Perkins role of the crazy photographer Sean MIGHT make the remake less of a disaster than some others. But I really hope this project doesn't happen–leave well enough alone. We have plenty of original projects that should be brought to light.

Nadell

Another remake.
Another film about a singer.
Another film with singing involved.
I'm sure Beyonce, Monica, Rhianna, Keri Hilson, Jordin Sparks, Mariah Carey, Letoya Luckett, Mary J. Blige, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Keyshia Cole, Mya, Cassie, and Rita Ora will be tapped on the shoulder for this role.

tiggyy

It's about time, I always thought Eryka Badu would be excellent cast as Mahogany!

CareyCarey

"Untill hollywood or people in charge tap into that feeling or understand why those movies resonated with people so much they're going to keep coming up short. there's a reason why "think a like a man" grossed almost a hundred million and "sparkle" is barely at 25, we want to see ourselves on screen but the story and actors to some agree must be compelling and move us" ~ The Mantan. Bravo young man! One more point, we can directly relate to the characters, the story will be more compelling and moving. No big deal – right? Well, one has to know what to look for. Okay, reeeal sloooow, what's the connection (what's compelling… what moves us and engages "us" in the following characters?) Hint: It has more to do with our memory than the character(s) on the screen. Now, what's the connection/similarities of the following characters: Mike Epps's "Satin" — Madea — Kingfish — Mo'Nique's "Mary Lee Johnston" Precious's dysfunctional and abusive mother — Danny Glover's "Mister" — Danny Aiello's "Sal" (Do The Right Thing) — And Chris Tucker's "Smokey" (From "Friday"). Now, it's safe to say all the above characters moved us, engaged us, WHY? Well, first, I believe that movies are a reflection of society and people as a whole. So each of the character's are someone we knew or presently know. Consequently, in a subconscious way, when seeing one or more of those characters, our mind and body reacts very much as if that person is standing in our company. The key: The better the actor, or the more believable the actor, the more they draw us in. Check it out: Mike Epps's "Satin" = The black and handsome, cool lounge lizard that EVERY sister has seen or they have hit on them. He can be very smooth and very convincing. We've all seen and can relate to that image. Chris Tucker's "Smokey" = Everybody knows a funny and crazy Smokey — and many ARE Smokey :-). Kingfish = Every neighborhood's fast talking slickster (he can be a businessman). Be it the guy down the street, your daddy, uncle, your boss, or that hustler on the college campus, er'body has seen or been around a hustling con man. Mo'Nique's "Mary" = Every wild and crazy dysfunctional babies momma that we've ALL seen. Be it in our homes, on the bus, walking down the street or on the 10 o'clock news, we've all seen a "Mary", and we know how she affects us. Danny Aiello's "Sal" = That racist guy of "different" cultures who's in your neighborhood, who talks to you like he ain't got good sense. Most of us have had to deal with that type of fool and we remember all the emotions they've inspired. Huummm, just something to think about when considering why some "black" films are successful. "We want to see ourselves on screen but the story and actors to some agree must be compelling and move us" ~Mantan. I agree, Over and over again, multiple times throughout the entire movie… the images and music and dialog must engage us and move us.

Yolanda

Instead of remaking this can someone finally bring The Coldest Winter Ever to the big screen?

CareyCarey

Come on feet don't fail me now. The feet reply "Well CareyCarey, hold on, we don't have much time and we're going places only black folks can understand. You're black aren't you?" Carey: "Well, my daddy and momma are black… grandma and grandpa too, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so I'm as black as James Brown's hair when he sung "I'm Black and I'm proud". Feet: "So you're a conked out, slick n wavy black man "? Carey: "No foolish feet, my spirit is black… as far back as I can remember, through n through I've lived a black life, so without shame nor regret I can talk about the black experience". So CareyCarey and his talking-crusty-feet set off on a journey to understand Mahogany, Blutopaz's beloved Claudine, The Color Purple, Kingfish with Amos & Andy, Boyz n The Hood, The Color Purple, Uptown Saturday Night, Do The Right Thing, Sparkle and The Cosby's. Feet: "Shucky Ducky!!! You know we's about to walk across some mighty sacred ground, but if you like it, I love it, and am gonna get you there" So CareyCarey and his sore bunion encrusted talking feet set off on a journey to understand why Sparkle may have failed and why the remake of Mahogany is a dreadfully bad idea. FIRST STOP… Kingfish & Amos & Andy. Feet: "Oh lord, you can't talk about Amos & Andy cuz folks get real funny when you mention their names". Carey: "OOOH REALLY? Excuse me, I can talk about Kingfish because the actor behind Kingfish is my uncle. Anyway, to my point, millions of black Americans loved them some Amos & Andy, WHY? And, in the movie "Dancing In September" Isaiah Washington makes it to the top of a film production company. He opens the doors of his new spacious — yet un-decorated office — and the first picture he put on his wall was not Martin Luther King, Ali, Jesus, Sidney Poitier nor Malcolm X, it was Kingfish, Amos & Andy… WHY? (watch the movie to see what Isaiah and Nicole Ari Parker have to say about that)?". Feet: "Stop it Carey, you're hurting my head". Carey: "First, you don't have a head, you're a foot, but I understand… thinking is one of the hardest things to do. Think about that. Anyway, lets move on to Sparkle, Mahongany and the rest of the movies I mentioned. Although they're a mix of different genres, what's their similarities and why did the overwhelming majority of black folks adore them?". Foot: "That's easy, black folks love watching black people do what they do". Carey: "Do you mind if I call you Athlete's foot, because your voice is like a contagious skin infection (shared by many African Americans) which makes you stuck on that same ol same ol scratch. You gotta dig a little deeper". Foot: **with irritation in his voice** "Okay, you tell me the answer because I'm about tired of you calling me names". Carey: Well, in short, it has absolutely nothing to do with "Hollywood" nor the genres. It has everything to do with the shot callers in today's black film world… specifically the black ones. They may be cooperate heads and have titles in front of their names, but it's obvious to me that they don't have a deep understanding of the movie watching experience. And, to a large degree, they're out of touch with the majority of the black movie watching public. It's not about the "story", it has more to do with the experience while watching the images on the screen. That experience is enhanced by the images, music, setting and dialog that the black American can relate to, and "FEEL" (what engages the viewer). Just as important is the believablity of the actors on the screen. I am sorry, in Sparkle… Jefferey Wright's wife probably makes him smile, but she was "unbelievable" in Sparkle (miscast). So was Luke, nothing about his performance was real. In respect to the music, it didn't have the same "pull".. the same affect as days gone by. In fact, none of the actors had "pull", or that thang which "we" can relate to EXCEPT… Mike Epps's and his character, WHY? Now Mahogany… No Diana Ross (her voice and her persona and star power). NO Billy Dee Williams. No song that would make us dream about places that black folks have seldom traveled (we've been to those places. Been there and done that). To a large degree we no longer have to go to the movies to see black female driven stories for African Americans (like them or not, cable television with it's hundreds of channels, brings black life into our homes). UT OH… look at the time. Damn, I had more to say about the Suzanne de Passe's and the Akil's of the world, but I've run my lips a little too long. Come on feet don't fail me now."

Charolette A. Brooks

What ever happened to the making of the movie based on Sistah Souljah's classic novel, The Coldest Winter Ever?….I thought Jada Pinkett-Smith was going to develop this. What happened? I am still waiting…and crossing my fingers for the 'Green Light' for this project.

ALM

I don't think that anyone is going to be able to properly touch Bill Dee's role.

Batter Mike

Funny enough, the original was as trashy and campy as you could imagine, and is considered a "so bad it's hilarious" film by this point. The remake will likely be a glossed up, generic version with no personality, like "Sparkle".

Firebrand

If a movie as mediocre as Mahogany is considered a black cinema classic, we sure have a lot of work to do. Shame there aren't many original ideas floating around. Burn Hollywood burn.

lauren

The Hollywood machine is losing money to downloading. Not as bad as the music biz but enough to look for profit proven projects; hence all the reboots. While I wish there were more chances taken on original stories and I enjoyed Mahogany, it's not like they're rebooting The Color Purple starring Nicki Minaj.

c

leave this movie alone hollywood..

Really

I guess Hollywood is stuck in its own Groundhogs Day…literally remaking the same movies over and over again…ugh

B

They just have no new ideas in Hollyweird, huh? Let me guess: despite the fact that the title of the film is Mahogany, I'm sure they'll cast a light-skinned or biracial girl – maybe, hmm, Beyonce, Solange, Alicia Keys, ooooh Thandie Newton (whoops, too old), Carmen Ejogo. But more to the point (skin complexion be damned), I can't believe how mad I am about this. This is Mahogony! It might not be a great film, but this DIANA we're talking about. The Diana, and the film is all about Diana, through and through. Infuriating. So done with Hollywood.

BluTopaz

I usually don't care about remakes, Sparkle, etc. but now they are messing around and re-hashing DIANA'S AND MY MAHOGANY?!!! “There are so few female driven stories for African American actors and this is great material" That means my beloved Claudine will be recycled at some point.

Gigi Young

This is next on my queue, so I guess I should check this out. I see Beyonce grabbing on to this…but PLEASE, no more Mara Brock and Selim Akil!!! PLEASE!

Emmett Period

I'm learning Hindi and Japanese, I'm dome with Hollywood.

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