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'Steel Magnolias' with an all-black cast: a refreshing remake?


Earlier this week, Deadline revealed that Lifetime is developing a movie based off the classic 1989 film Steel Magnolias, which originally featured well-known names like Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah, and Julia Roberts. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have worked together several times (Hairspray, Chicago, The Bucket List), will be producing the film with Sony Pictures TV. You might recognize Zadan's name for producing Footloose—the original and the remake. Attached to direct is Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun).

The film has yet to be greenlit, but things look very optimistic. We have no word yet on which actresses and actors are being considered for casting, but Zadan and Meron have expressed their enthusiasm:

"Neil and I love Robert Harling's great characters and witty/poignant dialogue and Sally Robinson has done a great job adapting Robert's work while still maintaining the beauty of his words," said Zadan. "We think that by casting it with an all-black cast we will have most remarkable actresses playing remarkable roles. It will give it a fresh perspective and a new life. Our last TV movie was A Raisin in the Sun and that was one of our proudest achievements and we are working with Kenny Leon again, who is a remarkable director."

I'm always torn when I hear about a movie getting remade. I'm not always okay with Hollywood's idea of "contemporary," where changes to the script include tacky dialogue disguised as present day slang and over-the-top plot elements are included for the purpose of ramping up the drama to unfortunately unrealistic extremes. On the other hand, I think remakes are a great opportunity to discover and experience a film one might not normally want to pick up. Though films that star non-white casts normally don't do as well in the box office, it's often the lack of access to great scripts and bigger budgets. I think Lifetime has the right idea, and with the right cast, Steel Magnolias could be a refreshing remake.


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