"Steel Magnolias" is a classic Southern story and a cult-favorite film, and now, 23 years after its film release, it's getting a made-for-TV reboot. Lifetime's "Steel Magnolias" premieres Sun., Oct. 7, 9 p.m. ET with producer Queen Latifah leading the big-name, all-African-American cast as M'Lynn (the matriarchal role Sally Field made famous).
Alfre Woodard plays cranky Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine's role); Phylicia Rashad plays her sidekick, Clairee (Olympia Dukakis' role); relative newcomer (and Phylicia's real-life daughter) Condola Rashad takes on Shelby, the role Julia Roberts originated; Jill Scott plays Truvy (Dolly Parton's role), who runs the salon where they all convene, and her assistant Annelle (originally Daryl Hannah) is played by Adepero Oduye.
HuffPost TV caught up with Latifah, Woodard, Scott and executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan to find out what made them decide to do this remake, how they prepped to take on these iconic roles (even though Woodard never even seen the original as Zadan revealed), what updates, if any, they made, and whether or not they'd consider continuing the story with a television series.
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Zadan: "Robert Harling, who wrote the play and the screenplay for the original film ... we happened to be having lunch with him one day and we said, 'Is there ever anything that could be done with "Steel Magnolias"?' and he said, 'Actually, my dream would be to do it again, but do it with an African-American cast. It could be like a completely new film that you've never seen before.' So we called our friends and we made the movie."
An Homage Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine & Dolly Parton
Latifah: "The guys called me and told me what their idea was and said, 'We need you,' and I said, 'I'm there.' It was really kind of that simple. For me, it was important not to really revisit the [original] film because we needed to embody these characters ourselves. What they did was amazing ... we had to become these characters ourselves and make it ours."
Scott: "I got a phone call saying that Latifah and Neil were going to be doing 'Steel Magnolias,' and it was going to be an African-American cast, and I thought, 'I'm in.' I just read the script and did my best to forget everything I knew about this movie that I love. It's a renewal, and I had to approach it that way. Big hair, big t-ts ... [laughs] it's not hard to get that part!"
Woodard: "You want to pay homage to the first wife, but you don't want to ask your husband, 'How did the first wife kiss you?' [Laughs.] So having it just in 2012, in a visual language that they can understand, will make fans hold on to the original even more because it becomes part of a continuum."
Zadan: "We updated one thing, which was the diabetes part of it. In the original movie, she merely had diabetes, and they've come such a long way with medical care that we went to specialists and talked to them about what could work in this movie, setting it in contemporary time. The doctors told us that a kidney complication with the diabetes would make it very dangerous to have the child. So that's the one thing we really changed."
Meron: "That's why we think the material is classic material -- it can live no matter where you put it."
Latifah: "We connected immediately, so we didn't really have to fake being girls in a beauty shop. We just bonded, right away. Condola Rashad, I think is going to be someone you need to watch -- that girl is going to be amazing. We had this young energy, we had boys running around, rapping all day. [Laughs.]"
A Possible TV Series?
Meron: "You know, it seems like a natural ... it's something that's obviously in the air, but nothing is real yet."
What Makes This Story Timeless
Woodard: "I think it's the relationship between women. We are this far along telling the story of how women, out of their experiences from the time they come into the world, how there is an organic bond. I think that's why we get crazy with each other, and the world wants to tell the story that women are catty with each other. But it's such a strong, organic bond that's older than all of us -- it's ancient -- that energy is so kinetic. In the best sense, which usually happens, that energy recognizes each other. That is a place you go when you hurt, when you need to be caught, when you need to be understood, when you need to be angry. Whatever it is, women have that. My daughter, who's 21, knows that energy. My niece, who is 3, knows that energy. It is a universal and classic story that's about something that's ancient."
Tell us: Will you watch the "Steel Magnolias" made-for-TV reboot?
"Steel Magnolias" premieres Sun., Oct. 7, 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
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