Eactly a week ago, the big news was that the all-black remake of Steel Magnolias drew 6.5 million viewers on average, making it the 3th most-watched Lifetime telecast ever! EVER!
So with that kind of success, you shouldn’t at all be surprised if there are more of these all-black remakes of past films that initially starred white people, since that kind of short-sighted thinking is common in this industry.
I haven’t heard any rumblings yet, so I did a little digging of my own, to come up with a list of some other past classic titles that Lifetime could be looking to remake with all-black casts. Needless to say, these are all films that would fit Lifetime’s style and target audience.
And just for fun, you guys can play producer and help me cast each one; who knows, someone at Lifetime could be reading this, and maybe your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for any of these films as all-black remakes, as well as your suggestions, might actually be of influence… or maybe not.
After sorting through countless films released over the last 25 years or so, here are 5 titles I settled on.
1. Fried Green Tomatoes – the 1991 comedy-drama (itself based on a novel), which starred Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary-Louise Parker. It tells the story of a Depression-era friendship between two women, Ruth and Idgie, and a 1980s friendship between Evelyn, a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny, an elderly woman who knew Ruth and Idgie. The centerpiece and parallel story concerns the murder of Ruth’s abusive husband and the accusations that follow. It was nominated for two Academy Awards.
2. Terms of Endearment – the 1983 drama (also based on a novel) starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. It covers thirty years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger). The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for Shirley MacLaine, Best Supporting Actor for Jack Nicholson, and four Golden Globes.
3. How to Make an American Quilt – the 1995 movie (also based on a novel) which starred Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft, Maya Angelou, and Alfre Woodard, and centers of bride-to-be Finn Dodd (Ryder) who hears tales of romance and sorrow from her elders as they construct a quilt. This one costars 2 black actresses, so we could put an asterisk next to it.
4. The First Wives Club – the 1996 comedy (based on the best-selling 1992 novel) that starred Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler as three divorced women who seek revenge on their ex-husbands who left them for younger women. Sarah Jessica Parker, Marcia Gay Harden and Elizabeth Berkley co-star as the younger women. It was nominated for an Academy Award as well.
5. Beaches – the 1988 comedy-drama (based on a novel) that starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. In the film, a privileged rich debutante and a cynical struggling entertainer share a turbulent, but strong childhood friendship over the years. The film’s theme song, Wind Beneath My Wings, won Grammy awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990. It also was nominated for an Academy Award.
It’s actually a coincidence that these were all based on novels; I wasn’t intentionally looking for films adapted from novels.
Steel Magnolias was adapted from a play, not a novel.
So, if you were a producer commissioned by Lifetime to package another past woman-centered drama with an all-black cast, which of these would you consider? And secondly, how would you cast it?
Or if there are other titles that you think Lifetime could be considering, feel free to list those.