Here’s the Trailer for Lifetime’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ Remake

YOU GUYS, IT’S FINALLY HERE! The first trailer for Lifetime’s remake of Steel Magnolias with an African-American cast has hit the internet. As BlackBook‘s singular staff member covering the Black Steel Magnolias beat (it’s a voluntary position), I am pleased as punch to share this with you because it is SO WEIRD.

It starts out with random images of magnolias (clever!) and table settings while somewhat familiar voices repeat famous lines that you’ve heard a million different times coming from the mouths of other people. It is very bizarre! And then we get the first looks at M’Lynn (Queen Latifah), Ouiser (Alfre Woodard), Clairee (Phylicia Rashad), Truvy (Jill Scott), Annelle (Adepero Oduye), and Shelby (Condola Rashad) and an anachronistic reference to Beyoncé, which I assume means that at no point will Jill Scott say the memorable line, "It’s the ’80s. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past." 

Woof, you guys. I mean, I’m still excited and will watch the shit out of this (and, you know, change the channel at Halloween because I CANNOT WATCH SHELBY DIE), but there’s pretty much nothing special about this except that it’s got a bunch of strong black women delivering awkward line readings from a kind of campy movie about Southern ladies with big hair. I just don’t know if I can handle two hours of Queen Latifah looking sad. When I first saw the trailer existed, I was expecting, on the Steel Magnolias stress scale, to jump up to Rhett, Ouiser’s dog (incessent barking, losing hair), but right now I’m more like a Spud (just sittin’ around, doing Spud stuff).

Meanwhile, Viola Davis is sitting at home and LOLing pretty hard about this.

Queen Latifah Denies Coming Out of the Closet After Attending Gay Pride Festival

Queen Latifah has long been rumored to be gay, but the rapper/actress has never publicly come out of the closet. So when she openly attended the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival in California last month, many figured Latifah was close to an official announcement. They were wrong.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Latifah was asked if her performance at the pride festival had anything to do with her own sexuality. "That definitely wasn’t the case," she replied, neither confirming nor denying the rumors in the process.

Latifah went on to suggest there won’t be any kind of news regarding her sexuality coming out anytime soon, telling the magazine, "I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen."

Doesn’t she realize the impact her coming out of the closet could have? Doesn’t she care? Sigh. [via Gawker]

Cast of Lifetime’s All-Black Remake of ‘Steel Magnolias’ Announced

Back in October we shared the news that Lifetime was planning to remake Steel Magnolias, that classic tear-jerking dramedy about Southern women chattin’ and dyin’ of kidney failure, with an African-American cast. You may remember that I, amateur Hollywood casting director, assembled the perfect cast as a favor to Lifetime and the film’s producers. Clearly they have decided to take a different route, completely disregarding my brilliant choices to play the most important female characters in the history of film. 

According to Deadline, Queen Latifah (from now on referred to as "Queefah") is leading the cast, taking on the role of M’Lynn Eatonton (famously played by Sally Field in the 1989 film). That’s only the tip of the iceberg made up of questionable casting choices!

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Steel Magnolias chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana: ‘M’Lynn’ (Queen Latifah), Ouiser (Alfre Woodard), Clairee (Phylicia Rashad), Truvy (Jill Scott), Annelle (Adepero Oduye) and Shelby (Condola Rashad). Supporting each other through their triumphs and tragedies, they congregate at Truvy’s beauty shop to ponder the mysteries of life and death, husbands and children – and hair and nails – all the important topics that bring women together.

Um, first of all, did you call Viola Davis? I mean, considering she has two Oscar nominations under her belt whereas poor Queefah only has one, it makes sense that Davis would have just played recordings of laughter after listening to the pleading voicemails from the Lifetime reps because she doesn’t have time to LAUGH much less star in a LIFETIME ORIGINAL MOVIE, are you kidding me? So, fine, Viola Davis is out, but Queefah? As M’Lynn? A lady with three children, one of which DIES? No ma’ams, Lifetime. No ma’ams. At the very least, Queefah should be playing Truvy Jones. I mean, she JUST starred in a movie with Dolly Parton, you guys. Think of all the tips La Dolly could pass on to her new protege. 

While they do get a gold star for casting Phylicia Rashad as Clairee per my suggestion, are these people trying to pull a fast one by putting her daughter in the role of Shelby? Granted, my suggestion of double-casting Tia and Tamara Mowry was really just for LOLs, but at least they’d bring in the coveted Sister, Sister audience. I get that Raven-Symone is super busy right now stepping into the starring role of Sister Act: The Musical, thereby coming this much closer to taking over Whoopi Goldberg’s place in this world (speaking of which: You know that Whoopi did not say no to playing Ouiser, and you know that Lifetime forgot to call her), but nepotism? Really? Was Tracie Ellis-Ross too busy?

I supposed I’ll also give a pass on Jill Scott as Truvy, even though I can already imagine the salty tears that Loretta Devine is weeping right now. And I guess Adepero Oduye was supposed to be really great in Pariah, which I forgot to see. Maybe I will "forget" to see Steel Magnolias! (JK, nope, I will probably watch it five times.)

If they pick Terrence Howard to play Drum, I will eat my hat.

‘Joyful Noise’ Is the First Great Bad Movie of 2012

If you’re like me, you enjoy punishing yourself by watching movies that you expect to be horrible. It’s sort of like dealing with a hangover by drinking shots of vodka: you rush around and try to see all of the best Oscar-baiting films at the end of the year and then spend the month of January watching awful movies. As I learned on Sunday, when I met up with fifteen other folks for a boozy brunch at Dos Caminos before heading over to a late afternoon showing of Joyful Noise, the alcohol helps you get through it. Especially when it’s a two-hour-plus movie about dueling Southern ladies and gospel choir covers of Chris Brown hits. Spoilers abound, and this movie is so nuts that you actually won’t be able to predict the insane plotlines.

The movie starts with a choir featuring our heroines Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton performing at what appears to be some nightclub. There’s a banner over the stage that reads "Joyful Noise," just in case you forgot what movie you’re watching. And Kris Kristofferson is there as the choir director! And everything is so joyful! That is until Kris Kristofferson has a heart attack on stage. It’s not even five minutes before the first person dies, and this is before you check IMDb on your phone to answer the questions "How long is this goddamn movie?" and "Is Dolly starring in a reboot of Madame’s Place?"

Kris Kristofferson was Dolly’s husband, so after we sit through a somber funeral scene in which Dolly is unable to force tears from her perpetually dry, wooden eyeballs, the fun finally begins as the pastor decides to pick Queen Latifah over Dolly for the job as choir director. This is so crazy because Dolly’s the old white lady in a primarily African-American church, and she’s basically keeping the place afloat by being the rich person who donates all of her money, and her husband was the choir director so she clearly deserves the position. It’s the American way! Didn’t you see The Help? Those sad maids wouldn’t have accomplished anything without the rich white girl. 

Also, Queen Latifah and Dolly play women with actual names, but I’m just going to refer to them as Queen Latifah and Dolly because you don’t care what they called each other when they played dress-up in front of very expensive movie-making machines. 

The movie takes place in Pacashau, Georgia, where nobody has a job because every hardware store has shut down. It’s the economy, stupid! Well, Queen Latifah has a job as a nurse, because choir-directing can’t cover all of the bills, apparently. She is also sort of a single mom, as her husband left two years before to go be a marine or something because, as we learn, Queen Latifah is actually a lot to deal with! But so are her kids, Olivia and Walter. Olivia is actually perfect, because she is pretty and can sing. Walter, however, has Asperger syndrome, which the people who made this movie assume is appropriately characterized by his wearing sunglasses inside and being a self-aware weirdo (I assume they didn’t seen that season of America’s Next Top Model).

Meanwhile, Dolly’s grandson Randy shows up. Fun fact: eight out of ten Southern women have a grandson named Randy. Randy’s mom is a deadbeat who didn’t even come to her dad’s funeral, and Randy’s vague ethnicity means that everyone in town thinks his mother’s a whore and that he can’t be trusted because of unseen and unspoken bad things that he did once. But Randy, like everyone else in this movie, is a great singer, and since he’s got a massive boner for Olivia, he decides to join the choir. (I guess there isn’t a Tastee Freeze or any drugs in Pacashau.)

OK, so we might as well get this part out of the way now: there’s an Asian member of the choir named Mr. Hsu who has a crush on the buxom Earla, and they get it on pretty early in the movie. And the next morning — because they are sinners — Earla makes him breakfast in bed, only to discover that he died. That’s the second dead person in thirty minutes! Obviously Earla is really upset that she sexed a man to death. "Everybody is going to talk about me!" she cries. "Earla: tap it and die!" (Nobody will say that.)

Randy, despite Queen Latifah’s suspicions, actually turns out to be a pretty nice young man. Sure, he gets into a fight with some other guy who wants to bone Olivia, and at one point sort of kidnaps her to take her to see her father on the army base (I guess it counts as a kidnapping because Olivia actually said this line: “Where are we going? We’ve been driving for over an hour,” because it just didn’t cross her mind that maybe she shouldn’t just hop in a car with high school dropouts with bad reputations), but he also teaches Walter how to play piano, so.

If you’ve seen Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, you can probably imagine where the main plot about a simple country choir competing in a national gospel competition is headed. They have a shot! Oh no, it looks like they don’t! Queen Latifah wants the old-fashioned songs! Dolly wants them to sing “Man in the Mirror”! (Did you catch the irony there? You see, Queen Latifah is younger than Dolly, but is actually more like an old person. This completes your film studies lesson of the day.) Queen Latifah quits in protest! The pastor won’t let Randy be in the choir, even after he recruits that other dude who likes Olivia to play electric guitar, because what the Pacashauans lack in job skills and economic sense they make up in musical talent! And then Queen Latifah sings a song by herself in the church and is suddenly joined by what appear to be the ghosts of the choir and you think, “Oh good, are they all dead?” but nope! They are just in her imagination.

Then, in the most amazing musical number in the history of cinematic musical numbers, Dolly and Randy sing a duet and then Dolly looks out the window to see Kris Kristofferson standing in the cornfield. And then they have a duet, and then another Dolly stands out in the cornfield while Inside Dolly sings along with them. Someone in the movie is described as “a train making all the local stops” (poor, sad Southern people are really great at metaphors), and I am pretty sure that it was just a post-modern acknowledgement that this movie is batshit crazy.

Now that this review/recap is almost as long as the movie, let’s cut to the chase: everyone makes it to the national Joyful Noise competitions and they’re up against a crew of children who sound like New Edition but are praising God rather than the joys of dry-humping. In a last minute decision, Queen Latifah rips off her robe on stage and jumps into a fully orchestrated version of “I Want To Take You Higher.” The poor stage director stands offstage, frantically flipping through the papers on his clipboard, but I guess he figured it all out because then the stage splits in two and the lights are all perfectly timed (subtext: he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard with a  degree in Stage Studies). Then Randy sings a gospel version of Usher’s “Yeah,” complete with new lyrics like, “In the church with my homies / tryin’ to get my praise on.” And then Dolly sings Chris Brown’s “Forever” and I died in my seat.

So, to wrap it all up in a sentence (because the movie does as such in, oh, four minutes?): Queen Latifah’s husband comes back, she’s totally cool with Randy and Olivia being in love, she and Dolly are best friends, and the choir sings as Earla marries some cute Asian twink who shows up at the competition and is like, “Hey, I love you, I’ve been following you around all this time, you’re into Asians, right?” Then the guy who wrote and directed this movie is like, “Don’t worry about it, the end, bye!” The only way this movie could have been any greater / more terrible is if the bird from Country Strong showed up. Still, the bar has been raised, and it’s unlikely that Joyful Noise will lose the title of 2012’s Best Worst Movie. 

Links: Beyoncé Kills Off Sasha Fierce, Queen Latifah Wants A Haiti Baby

• Breaking! Beyoncé has finally killed off alter-ego Sasha Fierce. It’s the end of an era, y’all. [Digital Spy] • A hearty “Hell yeah!” is more than well-deserved for spurned mistress-to-Oracle exec Charles Phillips YaVaughnie Wilkins. Perhaps Elin Nordegren should take lessons in revenge from Wilkins. [Gawker] • That backyard BBQ singles mixer thing featuring karaoke raised about $150 million for Haiti last night. [New York Post]

(‘DiggThis’) • British hotels are in the habit of hiring “professional snugglers” to pre-warm their beds. [Consumerist] • In the UK: The BBC is conducting a thorough study to see whether their portrayal of gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals is accurate. In the US: California is still creeping its way through the Prop 8 trial. Head-desks all around! [Daily Mail and San Jose Mercury News] • How horrifying: The People headline that reads Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock Face Off at SAG Awards. As if there’s any doubt who’s going to run home and suck down an aerosol of Cheez Whiz after losing the Best Actress trophy at the SAG. [People] • Queen Latifah would like to purchase a child from Haiti. You hear that roar not terribly far away? It sounds familiar doesn’t it? [Us Weekly]

The Return of Michelle Carr & Queen Latifah

imageDon’t Sleep On It: When the new burlesque movement was at its peak, Velvet Hammer creator Michelle Carr reigned supreme. After a two-year stint in Berlin, Carr’s since put her titty tassels away (having just finished working on a Velvet Hammer retrospective book) and reemerged in the City of Angels. She’s about to make a mini-comeback of sorts as the opening act of a newish night called Telekinesis: The Magic Cabaret, a monthly event that runs next Tuesday and Wednesday evening at the Celebrity Theatre.

She promises her opening piece will be “verrrrry dramatic” for the show, which also features Jer Ber Jones (creator and host), Ann Magnuson, Anna Homler, The Lady Tigra, Diamondback Annie, Prince Poppycock, and Leila Bazzani.

You’re forgiven if you think you’ve wandered onto the set of Alice In Wonderland after reading that line-up. “Robbie (Daniel, the show’s co-creator) just has a fantastic way of pulling together a cast of talented, weird, out there characters,” says Carr. “He just puts together this delicious stew of performing madness.”

As for Carr, she’s long been bored of burlesque (“Ten years of burlesque is pretty much enough,” she says). She’s working as a creative director of The Edison (casting for dancers right now!) and has been causing a ruckus with her guerilla dance troupe, Hot Flash, formed with Ryan Heffington (of Sweaty Sundays fame). “We go to random, mundane places and break out in full choreographed routines on unsuspecting crowds.” She giggles. “We’re doing Madonna’s ‘Burning Up,’ right now.”

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You Slept On It: All Hail the Queen! No, not that frosty British one over yonder. We’re talking about Queen Latifah. The rapper-turned-actress celebrated her birthday last weekend at Club Light with the help of a few friends, some of whom you might have heard of. Guests included rapper royalty: Heavy D, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Lil Kim, as well as some peeps from her movie-star world (Harvey Weinstein and Vivica A Fox), and most importantly, her parents. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to her, “Stevie Wonder style.” The Queen returned to her roots and performed a 45-minute set of songs solely off her next album (album! remember when she made those!) called Persona, due out on July 7. Strangest attendee? Paris Hilton is her new number-one fan. She spent the entire show rocking out in the front row, taking snaps.

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Photo of Queen Latifah and Paris Hilton: Michael Simon
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