By Howard Pousner
Not content with directing two plays making Broadway bows this fall, Atlantan Kenny Leon has signed on to direct an all-black version of “Steel Magnolias” for the cable network Lifetime.
In an e-mail to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday afternoon, Leon wrote, “Casting soon … shooting somewhere in the South though I would love to see it happen in Atlanta.”
Like the 1989 hit film that featured an all-star cast including Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts, the update will be set in Louisiana and will explore the bond among a group of strong, Southern-accented women. Sally Robinson’s new script is based on the original movie.
The TV movie is to be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Sony Pictures TV, where the duo’s Storyline Entertainment has an exclusive deal for long-form programming, according to deadline.com. Leon directed Storyline and Sony Pictures TV’s previous collaboration, the 2008 ABC movie “A Raisin in the Sun.”
The always-in-fast-forward Leon, who said he just signed for “Steel” when reports broke Tuesday, is about to open Katori Hall’s Martin Luther King Jr. drama “The Mountaintop,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, on Thursday at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
He’s also directing Lydia R. Diamond “Stick Fly,” which begins previews at Broadway’s Cort Theater on Nov. 18. It stars Dule Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Rosie Benton and Condola Rashad in a play exploring race, class and familial relationships among an extended well-to-do African-American clan on Martha’s Vineyard.
In the e-mail to the AJC, Leon said he was getting excited about the Thursday Broadway premiere of the Olivier-winning “Mountaintop” and the anticipated attendance by a number of Atlanta leaders and board members of his Atlanta-based True Colors Theatre Company.
“You gotta see ‘The Mountaintop,’” he wrote. “I think it’s really special.”