A remake of the ’80s classic Steel Magnolias featuring an all-black cast is reportedly on the fast track to becoming a reality. Cue the debate!
The original Steel Magnolias, about a group of Southern women who spend a lot of time in a beauty parlor, came out in 1989 boasting an ensemble that pretty much defined the term “all-star cast”: Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Darryl Hannah. The movie was a financial success raking in $95.9 million worldwide and is generally considered to be one of the reigning classics in the tear-jerker genre.
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And now a remake is in the works with a notable twist: the all-white cast will be replaced with an all-black cast. The Lifetime movie is to be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo responsible for the new Footloose remake that opens Friday, who are busy reaching out to some of the top black actresses in Hollywood. “The goal of the TV movie’s producers is to assemble a similarly high-wattage cast of black actresses,” reports Deadline.
Now this remake — which, according to Deadline, still hasn’t been officially greenlit — is bound to stir up some debate on a few things, namely Hollywood’s insufferable penchant for remakes as of late and the dearth of leading roles available to black actresses. Both are definitely topics worthy of concern.
By now, however, we should all resign ourselves to the fact that the first debate is pointless: remakes are happening all around us and there’s nothing we can do about it.
As for providing a boost in the number of meaty leading roles available for black actresses, it’s definitely true that a Steel Magnolias remake would offer such an opportunity for African-American actresses to play major roles (that aren’t maids or ghettoized in some way). However, it’s more than a little disappointing that such an opportunity comes in the form of a telefilm remake. Even if casting the movie would be spectacularly fun.
Megan Gibson is a Writer-Reporter at the London bureau of TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.