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Atlanta-shot ‘Steel Magnolias’ remake on Lifetime Sunday, Oct. 7: how did you like it?

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How did you like the remake of "Steel Magnolias"?

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The 1989 film “Steel Magnolias,” an appealing ode to female bonding and the frailty of life, developed a beloved fan base and rewarded Julia Roberts with her first Academy Award nomination.

Robert Harling, who wrote the original play in 1987, was thrilled to see his stage version continue to be revived the next two decades. But he wondered if there was a viable way to get it back on screen — this time with a black cast.

Enter Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a duo who produced the Emmy-nominated version of “A Raisin in the Sun” with Atlanta director Kenny Leon in 2008. They hired Leon to direct and help cast the TV update of the film. Leon knew the source material well because he did a multi-ethnic casting of “Steel Magnolias” a decade ago at his Atlanta-based True Colors Theatre Company.

Read Wendell Brock’s review of the movie here.

See photos of the actresses then and now from the original film.

The Lifetime cable TV network, which targets women viewers, jumped aboard and debuts the remake, at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Though “Steel Magnolias” is fictionally set in Louisiana, Leon convinced Lifetime and the producers to shoot the TV version in his home city earlier this year.

“It wasn’t a hard sell,” Leon says. “We have great tax breaks and Craig and Neal have already had good experiences here” as producers of the 2011 remake of the film “Footloose” and the Lifetime drama “Drop Dead Diva,” both shot in metro Atlanta.

They cast Queen Latifah — who worked with Zadan and Meron on the film versions of “Chicago” and “Hairspray” — in the role of the mother, M’Lynn, played by Sally Field in the original movie. Leon chose Phylicia Rashad’s daughter Condola to play Roberts’ role as the stubborn diabetic daughter Shelby.

The film remains faithful to the original, keeping many of the most resonant lines, including Shelby’s early pronouncement, “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Leon even revisits the line at the end of the film because “I want viewers to walk away with the idea that life is precious.”

Leon does incorporate elements specific to African-American culture. For instance, at the wedding reception scene, the guests do a Soul Train-style line dance. And when Shelby gets her hair cut, her mother saves the clippings, a gesture reflecting the importance of hair in black culture.

“Even when people die, things you miss is that smell,” Leon says. “I sort of had that in my mind with that hair. And it wasn’t a weave or a wig. That was Shelby’s hair.”

“I felt like the more specific you can make it to the culture,” he adds, “the more universally appealing it would be.”

Leon also added three scenes to flesh out the male characters beyond their roles than in the movie version.

And, because the film is set in 2012, the scriptwriters sprinkle in references to Facebook, “Bridezillas,” Beyonce and Michelle Obama.

Several of the actresses, including Alfre Woodard, had never seen the original film — and avoided it on purpose. Woodard plays the irascible Ouiser with far more subtlety than Shirley MacLaine. Others from the cast who were deeply familiar with the film, such as Jill Scott — who portrays Dolly Parton’s sassy hairdresser Truvy — says she had to “wipe it all away from my mind.”

Phylicia Rashad — cast as the chipper, yet elegant, widow Clairee — says the storyline helped draw her to the TV remake, and not just because her daughter plays a key role in it.

“You could put this story in Ireland,” she says. “You could put this story in Batswana. At the heart of this, it’s about humanity that’s universal. It’s about women who really love each other.”

Camaraderie on the set

Leon says he had to make concessions the original filmmakers didn’t have to worry about. For instance, he had only 18 shooting days, where the original had 50. And he had to trim the film to 89 minutes — 30 minutes shorter than the original. That meant some scenes, such as the egg hunt, were cut and dialogue significantly tightened.

Given the time crunch, Leon worked to develop quick camaraderie with the cast.

“From the first day, I said, ‘We can’t spend any time in our trailers. We can’t waste time in makeup. We have to spend our time on set.’ The women were committed and they delivered.”

And when Leon became frustrated, instead of cursing, he pressed a button on a gag box that cursed for him.

“It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how many hours we worked,” says Latifah, “when he presses this button, it just breaks the mood. You’re having a serious conversation and it’s like, ‘What?’ That helped me out.”

TV preview

“Steel Magnolias”
9 p.m., Sunday, Lifetime.

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93 comments Add your comment

Pari

October 5th, 2012
4:00 pm

I can’t wait to see this!

zeke

October 7th, 2012
11:09 am

What a waste! Does everything have to be renamed for MLK? Does every movie, tv news show, tv program have to be done to satisfy 12% of the population? Wasteful! Useless!

Black

October 7th, 2012
11:15 am

Wow I didn’t know they allowed racists on this comment board Zeke. I think it’s sad that in 2012 we still have people like you, who think like you walking about the United States…land of the free… yeah right…land of the undercover racists. Accept the fact that people of color are everywhere and will always be. Don’t fight it, embrace it. God don’t like ugly!

Ted Sheckler

October 7th, 2012
11:35 am

What a disgrace. Have they no shame. I would rather clean rat feces than watch this excrement on tv. Wake up people, this is horrible.

Really?

October 7th, 2012
11:42 am

@zeke: how appropriate that you would use the terms ‘wasteful’ and ‘useless’…now apply those to your own out of touch comments. it is better to be thought of as an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

i will watch this and i hope that many other young women (not just black women) watch it too. all young women need positive female role models….whether that’s Queen Latifah, Michelle Obama, or whoever. it’s not the physical attributes of the person in question, but the message they deliver and whether that message is received and applied.

Kelly

October 7th, 2012
12:02 pm

@ Black–very well put! Thank you!

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Daphnie

October 7th, 2012
12:29 pm

I just knew when I saw the commercial for this on lifetime this morning that there would be someone i.e. Ted Sheckler..and zeze :) getting their panties in a bunch…I can think of several questions ask..but I won’t today..but zeke…I can answer your question: the answer is YES, if you think it’s every tv program that’s being taking over, Yes, I think you’re a bit delusional but ok..You can find other shows/channels to watch, that’s why there’s so many. Don’t watch it, it’s that simple. If the guy who wrote the play wants to see a different rendition of the play then it’s his right. No one said it would be better. I absolutely love the original..( there were a couple of black extras in that btw.. I hope that didn’t ruin it for you lol) again if you think zeke YES..you can thank your ancestors with the ships, chains, plantations and pointed white hoods for that.. Hope this helps!! God Bless!

Drea

October 7th, 2012
12:50 pm

Is this a joke?

mrs. Rich

October 7th, 2012
1:01 pm

So sad and such a waste for ignorant people to make negative remark about this movie She I am a woan of colr, love my sister and brother ,will be front and center watiching and telling every woman I know ,see we are having a girl nite while the men watch football or whatever they do, it is call sisterhood tim. We will enjoy each other company and have a grand time. I Don’t need anyone permission to enjoy my friend just understand ignorance is bliss and I see we have some ignorance on this blog, now that to me is a waste. And the thing that excite me most is that a Black man had to do it and bring to the screen and Lifetime saw the need a showcased it so it is going to be and Amazing nite for me and my girlfriend .And the negative Naysayer I will not mention your name you know who you are, maybe you might learn something other than being a internet racist. Peace out and she walked away

Hey there

October 7th, 2012
1:04 pm

WHY?? is Zeke and all the other hater’s on this search engine in the first place. I search for Steel Magnolia,so i could locate the time and channel that it was being shown on. Apparently they wanted to see it and read up on it as well. Lol…Life is too short to be ignorant!!!!!

mrs. Rich

October 7th, 2012
1:05 pm

sorry forthe typo i was uming and tying so fast I could not believe the ignorance. the second sentence should have read , See I am a woman of color. and the rest is self explainatory. and sorry abt the ed on showcase. upset with these fool.. peace all and have a great Sunday I will after we read these blog sure my sister will address later.

Lexi

October 7th, 2012
1:26 pm

I am reading all the negative remarks here, then seeing the replies screaming racism, hate, etc. But you must admit some of the posts do make a valid point – albeit not in a very elloquent way. It does sadden me that Hollywood is so shortsighted and uncreative today that they cannot come up with an “original” idea to showcase the talents of this gifted cast. Steel Magnolias was/is a wonderful movie that showcased the absolute talent of its original cast (Sally, Olympia, Shirley, Darryl, Julia …). I do question why it must it be “remade”/”reinterpretted” to showcase an all black cast. What if Hollywood took “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and plugged Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds into the Bassett/Diggs roles? Or take “Color Purple” and set it in 2012 with an all white cast set on Wall Street (Yeah, it’s a stretch…) Or take all of Tyler Perry’s Madea movies and switchit up with Adam Sandler. I am sorry but there would be plenty of “panty twisting” going on. Just sayin’ …

denise

October 7th, 2012
1:58 pm

please tell me when this airs and wht channel its on…i live in alberta…thnaks

Sandra

October 7th, 2012
2:03 pm

To zeke and you other racists, did you read the part where Robert harking wanted to remake his own movie with a black cast?

Dominique

October 7th, 2012
2:21 pm

Movies get remade all the time. Footloose, Tron, etc. All different genres. Most with just an updated cast (similar ethnicity makeup as the original). Would it be such a big deal if the cast were just an update to the current Hollywood A-list? It actually makes the remake more enticing to watch because there will different cultural elements incorporated. And its on TV, so I dont have to pay to go to the movies. I dont agree that Hollywood lacks creativity. I think big bank support of films starring people of color is really whats lacking. So people like Tyler Perry have to figure it out on their own. Thats whats sad! There are plenty of ideas and scripts out there, but they’ll never make it to a screen without financial support. Do you know who runs Hollywood?? Ha!… Anyway, there will ALWAYS be ignorant people who choose to spread their toxicity. I am so looking forward to seeing the made for TV adaptation of this film. :)

mrs.G

October 7th, 2012
2:48 pm

I’m actually hosting a little ggirls nite out to gather and watch tonight just a few weeks early a friend and I were discussing how cool it would be if there a pretty woman ethnic remake, so when we heard of this we were so excited. I loventhe original but I love things that drive home to my culture as well.
#moveforwardorgetleftbehind

Daphnie

October 7th, 2012
3:32 pm

Enter your comments here

Ro

October 7th, 2012
3:58 pm

Uh, I don’t see this movie as something only meant to satisfy the African American community. I see it as a classic re-telling of a story in a different time and setting. They’ve done this in movies since forever. Clueless=Emma, 10 Things I Hate About You=Taming of the Shrew, Tin Man=The Wizard of Oz, O=Othello. I’m just looking forward to seeing a reinterpretation of a story that I love. Haters, feel free to return to your normal unimportant existence.

Daphnie

October 7th, 2012
4:07 pm

Hey Lexi, yes i agree, there would be a lot of panty twisting if an all white cast played the color purple.. I’m sure white people wouldn’t want to see themselves being oppressed by blacks, (oprah’s character for instance) however if the AUTHOR wants to do that then so be it. Adam Sandler & Tyler Perry switch up? love it.. I love Adam Sandler so it should be funny..ijs Watch it, don’t watch it, doesn’t matter..It’s airing tonight so get over it.

Regna

October 7th, 2012
5:57 pm

Really??? Some people need to grow up and get a grip. Those of you with some real class, enjoy the show for what it is — entertainment. All others, I’ll keep you in prayer.

SteelMagnolia

October 7th, 2012
7:41 pm

I came to this page in hopes of reading “behind the scenes” info about the remaking of this lovely movie and so disgusted at some of the comments that it feels like weve gone back in time. If you dont like the fact its been remade with African Americans, dont watch it. But do those of us who are Steel Magnolia fans a favor, and dont waste our time with your negative comments. For whatever reason its been remade, theyve chosen some fine actors to play the roles and altho I will always be an Steel Magnolia original die hard, I have no problem with what theyve done and support them 100%!

inthemiddle

October 7th, 2012
8:28 pm

ok i m not racist at all by any means however, Its not the fact that its being remade that is annoying its the fact that for some reason black people have to remake every movie to have nothing but black people it in. Before anyone said’s anything hear me out. That IS racist, instead of paying attention to the fact that the movie is entertaining THEY (people remaking this movie) are the ones paying attention to color because they have to remake it because of color. I’ve seen Think like a Man and Madea. I am white and I would be annoyed if white people remade it to include all white cast. To me its not about color its about is it a good movie if so watch it but the fact that Steel Magnolias has been remade to include an all black cast means that THEY were not looking at the meaning of the movie THEY were the ones looking at color. Everyone should watch movies to enjoy them not remake them because of color.

Dom

October 7th, 2012
8:30 pm

After reading the story, please keep your comments to the story. That’s why you came to comments right? Don’t allow your valuable contribution to be deterred by a few negatives. I’d love to read your thoughts on Steel Magnolia- the remake :-) !

inthemiddle

October 7th, 2012
8:32 pm

May I also add that if they made this using the EXACT same lines and EXACT same ideas. Then there is nothing different whatsoever from the original so can someone tell me why remake it if its the EXACT same? That pretty much proves my point that these people when watching the original only thought of color

Different Perspective NOT Color

October 7th, 2012
9:04 pm

Are you kidding me…you people can not be serious. I have seen the original and can’t wait to see the remake. Who cares if the cast is all white or black? As long as this is a good movie. I would rather people complain about the movie being a remake a classic movie that is absolutely related at any time rather than have people complain about the color of the cast. Not in 2012…we are not still focused on race/color. The original is a great movie with that chosen cast and hopefully the remake will be just as good with the chosen cast. @inthemiddle the difference between Think Like A Man and MAdea movies is that there is always a diverse cast so it would probably seem kind of pointless to go from diverse to all white. BTW have you seen He’s Just Not That Into You…so to remake think like a man with an all white cast would be like watching He’s just not that into all over again. And for the record I love the meaning of the movie, but it should be interesting to see the movie from a different perspectve not color. Please stop being so closed-minded people.

jessica

October 7th, 2012
9:17 pm

OMG what a great movie, i wish i could watch it every single day of my life. They did an awesome job.
Love it , don’t hate….

DebDoes

October 7th, 2012
9:29 pm

Loved Steel Magnolias, original version and can recite among every line word for word. That will be the hard part for me…if they veer from the script or change it to be more African American centric, then I will have a problem with the remake. I love Queen and some of the other actresses, but the original cast is going to be hard to beat. Now, for a white version of Soul Food!

kim m

October 7th, 2012
9:35 pm

You have wrecked this movie. The original is the best. The movie is not even the same.parts are missing or placed in different parts of the movie. I am very upset at how this was an insult to the original.

Joe Johnson

October 7th, 2012
10:12 pm

I’m watching this top-notch TV version of Steel Magnolias as I write, but I recall a wildly successful stage version presented in Dallas a few years ago, performed with an outstanding cast of male actors (except for Shelby) and capturing all the universal themes of the original play. The Dallas production played to enthusiastic audiences — that is, until playwright Robert Harling shut it down by pulling the performance rights. That production wasn’t campy, but genuine and emotionally moving. Still, I’m glad to see Harling was open-minded enough to allow this worthy TV remake. Too bad he didn’t see the beautiful production in Dallas. Had he seen it, he, like those who did see it, would have been deeply-touched and inspired. Steel Magnolias’ celebration of community deserves diverse interpretations as the battle against short-sightedness continues.

denise

October 7th, 2012
10:31 pm

Hllo….please let me know if this is a show we can watch in ALBERTA CANADA…thanks so much

Chile Please

October 7th, 2012
10:44 pm

There simply are not words to describle H-A-T-E. We are all God’s children.

I loved the original and enjoyed the remake. Let’s just celebrate womanhood. We all bleed the same…..(no pun intended).

Scarlet

October 7th, 2012
11:08 pm

To The Writer/Writers:
Please do not try this AGAIN!!
I’ve Seen the original, and Nothing can compare the the Original Classic Movie
Stop trying to remake Classic Movies!
This Movie Sucked 100%

Erynn

October 7th, 2012
11:35 pm

I saw it tonight, and it made me cry as much as the original did. The friendships women form and the strength they give to each other during tragic times is universal; across all ethnicities. THAT is the message.

Davis, (don't listen to the critics!)

October 7th, 2012
11:45 pm

I missed the movie. When will eat be shown again. Don’t listen to the negative responses. There is an audience for this work that will be more than enough. Not everyone liked or appreciated the first version; so not everyone will appreciate this one either. I haven’t seen it yet but the very idea was wnough to engage me. Then, the outstanding cast and the skill of Kenny Leon; I’m going to tell everybody about it. I’m going to recommend to pastor’s wives of Black congregations to have a showing of it as soon as it becomes available. This will be a classic in our communities. It is such a rare and precious gift of entertainment. I can’t wait to see it. I only saw the clips. Thank you for making this happen.

Davis, (don't listen to the critics!)

October 7th, 2012
11:47 pm

Correction to the preceding comment. When will it be shown again?

RF

October 7th, 2012
11:53 pm

Very, very good rendition of the story, that focuses on the bonds women have. That is throughout all cultures, and it was nice to see how this group of women did it, knowing what an iconic movie and play it is. I thought they did a fantastic job without overemphasizing the cultural differences. And I liked the fact that the male characters had a little more depth. It was nice to see some emotion from the guys in this story. It didn’t take away at all from the focus on the strength of the women. To me, it only made the scene where M’Lynn watches Shelby die all the more powerful. The critics will compare it to the original, and I think they’ll see it was well done. I enjoyed it immensely myself!

SW

October 8th, 2012
2:53 am

Thank you RF for your intelligent comment and providing an honest review. I also enjoyed the remake and the display of emotion from the men in this movie. I’m sure Robert Harling was pleased with the remake and Kenny Leon is a great director.

Rissa

October 8th, 2012
3:11 am

Im a big fan of the original movie & was a bit skeptical of a remake but they did a good job with this tv version I think everyone did a good job with their characters & even tho it wasn’t a carbon copy of the movie it was still “Steel Magnolias”. I was glad 2 see Mrs. Felicia Rashad again but her character was the only 1 I wasn’t feeling otherwise I liked this remake.

Vee

October 8th, 2012
4:14 am

I think Steel Magnolias is a great movie—the original, as well as this latest version. I loved the original, but I had/have forgotten a lot of it. I watched this remake, not expecting it to be anything other than a different version of a great movie. I didn’t expect it to be the original movie, with a “Black” cast. I simply expected to see different actresses depicting a different version and giving a much loved movie a different flavor, which I think it did. Both versions can hold their own weight and be appreciated, as doing so. While watching this new version, I experienced different emotions, as I do remember with the original. That always equals a great movie.

As far as a Caucasian cast doing Madea, I think it would offer an interesting take and be just as hilarious, as the original—a great movie, as well. I would love to see it!!! That’s what art can be about. :-)

As for the racist, it must be horribly sad and fatiguing to be stuck in your heads, so full of hate. You sound like angry White men, afraid of losing your grip on your beliefs of self-entitlement. Face it, minorities are here to stay. The U.S.A. is a flower garden and you are just a petal on one type of variegated flower. It’s up to you to either co-exist or die out. My condolences to the Zekes and Teds of this country/this world. :-(

Electric_Pink

October 8th, 2012
7:58 am

If Robert Harling had no issue with the characters being reinterpreted by a cast that’s African-American, then why should the viewing public? That said, you don’t like the cast or the premise of an African-American cast, don’t watch. BTW, the correct spelling is Botswana, not Batswana.

carmen

October 8th, 2012
8:27 am

Im a black woman..30 yrs old…….i loved the original is an understatment…..i loooooooove the original…..but the remake just sucked….and i couldnt sit thru it…instead i.put in my dvd of the original.they didnt have the chemistry with the characters….i didnt feel a connection….the cast was all wrong here…its embarrassing. All wrong just all wrong.

carmen

October 8th, 2012
8:42 am

And honestly….i personally dont know black women who have those kinds of caring genuine relationships friends or family but i did grow up in the hood…thats y i looved the original so much cause i wanted my family and friends to be caring of each other like that…but what i mostly grew up seeing wasjelousy..envy..fighting..disrespect growing up in all black neighborhoods…..not true love for one another..more of what u see on basketball wives and any other black reality show…black women are not loving and supportive of one another….i guess thats y it was so not believable..black woman like to be better than one another..show offs
..

Renee

October 8th, 2012
9:08 am

I really wanted to enjoy this movie but it was so bad. I was surprised by the amount of bad acting coming from Acting Veterans. The young Condola Rashad was the worst. I think she needs a little more experience before tackling a lead role. I don’t know who to blame the writers or the Actors. Nothing about the movie was believable. You couldn’t feel it like you did the original.

MsAtl

October 8th, 2012
9:36 am

Carmen, I understand that you are speaking from your personal experiences and I hope that others on this board understand that you are speaking of your life, although it appears that you are making a generalization as to all Black women. I have to respectfully disagree. I like the original version of Steel Magnolias and I enjoyed the remake for what it was, especially since it reminded me of my group of friends, who, by the way, were gathered to watch the remake together. We get together at least once a month to spend time together. Beyond our monthly ladies nite, we are there for each other, from helping pack when one of us moves, to providing back up in picking a child up from school or checking in when one of us is ill to make sure everything is okay. I consider myself fortunate to have a group of female friends who love and support each other, especially since I do not live near my family. On that note, my family is loving and supportive, despite that we grew up in a Black neighborhood. The difference in our experiences show that race is not the determining factor in whether you have decent friends or community support as opposed to jealousy, fighting and disrespect.

Suze

October 8th, 2012
9:45 am

Once again people look at things as black or white. Silly me, all I saw was an ensemble of great actresses in a very poignant rendition of a classic play (the original movie is in no way a “classic” other than a classic joke of weird accents). I thought all the actresses were great, particularly Queen Latifah, albeit I wasn’t too crazy about Shelby’s character.

I agree with Erynn and totally disagree with Scarlet. I am from Louisiana and those fake accents were like nails on a chalkboard for me (including Dolly’s from Tennesssee – bless her heart, though, as she was the best of that cast). Olivia Dukakis’s breathless, affected accent drove me nuts as did Daryl Hannah’s version of a redneck accent. So it was great to see women just being women in this movie.

Disappointed

October 8th, 2012
9:58 am

Love the original. I couldnt help but compare the remake to it. Sadly it fell way short. Leaving out the last scene at the Easter Egg hunt…really? I am rather disappointed.

Greer

October 8th, 2012
10:32 am

I watched the entire movie, but it didn’t move me as the original did. I was watching and thinking of who would have been better playing the parts. For instance Danny Glover as M’Lynn’s husband, Megan Good as Shelby, Loretta Devine as Ouiser, Lynn Whitfield as Clairee, Angela Bassett as M’Lynn, Toni Braxton as Truvy and so on. I know some of the ones I mentioned are high end actresses and actor and probably wouldn’t have been in it this made for TV movie, but these are just my thoughts. Overall, I think the movie should have been left alone with no remake. I loved the original.

MsAtl

October 8th, 2012
10:43 am

Greer- reading your post, I could picture all of those actors in the roles you mentioned, I think you are spot on with Loretta Devine and Lynn Whitfield.

Tiffany

October 8th, 2012
11:28 am

What a waste of time! Movie was horrible and had the same kind of minor-league acting you expect to see in a Tyler Perry movie. Just because you CAN do a re-make doesn’t mean you SHOULD do a re-make. The shot-for-shot remake of Psycho? Awful. The Karate Kid remake using Wil Smith’s son? Laughably bad. This is another bomb that will land in the 99-cent bin at Big Lots in about two months.