The most famous (or infamous, if you hated it) black remake of a classic mainstream (e.g. “white”) movie has to be Sidney Lumet’s The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. It was an up-tempo, hood-flavored version of the beloved classic The Wizard of Oz, complete with numbers runners, a factory filled with overworked laborers and a drug-scented poppy field to tempt Dorothy and her friends off the yellow-brick road. The “Wiz” was played by comedic superhero Richard Pryor.
Although the Broadway version of The Wiz won critical acclaim and garnered seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Lumet’s stage-to-film translation was panned by critics and didn’t gain much of an audience until the VHS and DVD versions hit store shelves years after the movie bombed at the box office.
To this day, The Wiz stands as one of those films folks either love or loathe. The soundtrack (thank you Quincy Jones) was incredible.
If the pitiful box-office numbers for the film version of Dorothy and Toto’s soulful misadventures are any indication of how a mainstream movie will fare in a darker pigmented film afterlife, Sony Pictures is going out on a limb with its proposed all-black adaptation of the 1989 film Steel Magnolias. The existing movie, set in Louisiana, and starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Darryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts, stayed on the box office top 10 list for 16 straight weeks.
Kenny Leon, who directed the 2008 ABC movie A Raisin In The Sun, starring Phylicia Rashad and Sean (P.Diddy) Combs, is attached to direct the new Steel Magnolias, which would feature a cast of revered black actresses.
The proposed film is said to be a passion project of Lifetime president Nancy Dubuc and EVP Programming Robert Sharenow. The green light has not officially illuminated this project yet, but it is rumored to be on a fast track, with some preliminary casting choices for the leads expected to begin soon.
Assuming you’re all for the remake (some very passionate Internet comments suggest many are not too pleased with this idea), who would you cast as the lead characters? I’m thinking Taraji P. Henson would put some real stank (I mean that in a good way) on that Sally Field role.
Read more at Deadline.com