Lifetime is remaking “Steel Magnolias” with an all-black cast!


Every time I see the news that Hollywood is remaking or rebooting something from my childhood, I roll my eyes and cross my arms over my chest and stomp my feet and do a lot of active frowning. Or, well, that’s what I used to do, until I found out about a do-over I can get behind: This week, Lifetime announced its plan to remake one of the greatest movies of our time, Steel Magnolias — with an all-black cast!

Now, look, I grew up on Steel Magnolias, OK? I’m a born and bred Southern belle with exactly the correct amount of attachment to Sally Field and Dolly Parton, but this remake is super exciting to me. The success of the entire project, of course, hinges on which actresses are cast for the iconic roles. And producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are responsible for Hairspray and Chicago (Oscar-winner!), promise they know that:

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. 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.

Good, then you guys won’t mind my casting suggestions!

Recasting Sally Fields’ M’Lynn Eatenton is the crux of the entire project, and that means they’ve got to cast the very best actress, and the very best actress is Viola Davis. I know, I know, by the time they start shooting this thing, Viola Davis is going to be basking in the glow of the Academy Award she’s going to win for The Help, but consider this: She’s already got a Tony. If you add an Oscar to the mix, she’s halfway to EGOT! She can’t give up on TV completely!

Originally, I had it in my mind that Phylicia Rashad should play M’Lynn and Keisha Knight Pulliam should play Shelby, but frankly the thought of Claire Huxtable watching Rudy die sent me into hysterics. But Rashad could certainly bring wisdom and whimsy to the role of Truvy Jones, beauty parlor owner and mom to everyone. I think she’d make Dolly proud.

I always feel guilty choosing between Tia and Tamera Mowry, but The Game keeps Tia on my radar the most, and when I saw that she’s pregnant in real life right now, I couldn’t stop thinking about her taking over Julia Roberts‘ Shelby Eatenton. She’s can easily do that vulnerable fire that makes you root for and feel desperately sorry for Shelby at the same time.

Cheerful widow Clairee Belcher would be perfect in the hands of Loretta Devine. Clairee is smart and sweet and a total pain in the ass to Ouiser Boudreaux. Olympia Dukakis made the role famous the first time around, but I think Devine could keep the spirit of the role while making it all her own.

There is nothing in this wide world more radiating than Angela Bassett‘s smile, but when she scowls, watch out! Half of Ouiser Boudreaux is playing off Clairee Belcher, and Bassett and Devine already did that brilliantly in Jumping the Broom. They were mostly arch-enemies in that one, but I’d love to see them doing a real love/hate thing in Steel Magnolias.

What do you think of the news that Lifetime is remaking Steel Magnolias? Who would you like to see join the cast?

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