We’re not quite sure how to react to the news that Lifetime Television wants to remake Steel Magnolias with an African-American cast.
On the one hand Magnolias is a camp classic and you can’t manufacture camp. It has to happen organically. While we found Todd Haynes’ remake of Mildred Pierce…interesting, for example, it was almost a completely different animal from the 1945 original.
On the other hand, under all that hairspray and deep-fried wisdom, Magnolias gets to some deeper truths about motherhood, friendship and the South. In the right hands (Tony nominee Kenny Leon is attached to direct) and adapted to the nuances of Southern African-American culture, a new version could bring something exciting to the table.
On the third hand (yes we have three), it’d be disastrous if they kept the script intact. Lets not pretend the experiences of African-American women in Louisiana, even today, are the same as their white counterparts.
Now comes the fun part—the casting!
Angela Basset is a shoo-in for M’Lynn (Sally Fields’ role). She’s even working with Leon on Broadway right now in The Mountaintop.
You gotta have Loretta Devine in there somewhere—it’s practically a commandment. We see her as amiable widow Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis in the movie).
She’s too young but with some latex and makeup, Vanessa Williams would be a killer Louisa “Ouiser” Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine’s role). We’ve seen her play prickly to perfection before.
Have some better suggestions? What about Shelby, Truvy and Annelle? Weigh in below in the comments.
But first, our animated version of M’Lynn’s heartbreaking cemetery scene. Enjoy!