steel magnolias1*The buzz on the quintessential “chick flick” has been at an all-time high since the day Lifetime announced that it was remaking an updated modern-day version of the celebrated stage play and 1989 film Steel Magnolias with an all-Black cast starring Queen Latifah, Condola Rashad, Jill Scott, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Adepero Oduye chronicling the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana.

Now some 23 years after its film release, the feel good, sentimental southern saga has been given new life as a made-for-TV reboot that premiered on Lifetime on Sunday, October 7, 9 p.m. ET.  The movie also features Lance Gross, Tory Kittles, Michael Beasley, Justin Martin, Afemo Omilami and Julius “Dr. J.” Erving.

Directed by Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) with effortless verve, Steel Magnolias centers on M’Lynn (Queen Latifah) and her about-to-be-wed diabetic daughter Shelby (Condola Rashad) who spend a lot of glorious time celebrating their womanhood at a beauty parlor owned by Truvy (Jill Scott) and frequented by the cantankerous Ouiser (Alfre Woodard), her grandly amusing friend and nemesis Clairee (Phylicia Rashad), and Annelle (Adepero Oduye), a troubled young hairdresser hired by Truvy as her assistant.

The original movie starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, and Daryl Hannah.

The Black beauty parlor has always been a place of solace for women of color.  In addition to letting their hair down – and out – it serves as a haven where they could unload their problems, offer help and get help for anything troubling them.  The Black beauty parlor was where these women were able to vent and, like beams of steel, show support for each other through their triumphs and tragedies – while getting their hair and nails done.

This is exactly what drew Latifah to this project.  “I just love seeing that sisterhood, that bond between women in this film,” she said.  “It’s something that doesn’t really have to change from the play to the original movie to this movie.  That’s an important thing for all women — for us to rally around each other in tough times, in good times.”

steel magnolias2Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Steel Magnolias  is executive produced by Queen Latifah reuniting her with producing duo Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, from the Oscar and Golden Globe winning “Chicago” and “Hairspray,” Shakim Compere (“Single Ladies”) and Shelby Stone.  Leon directs from a script that has been adapted for television by screenwriter Sally Robinson (“Iron Jawed Angels”) and is based on the play and screenplay by Robert Harling (“The First Wives Club”).

Steel Magnolias is also a reunion for Zadan, Meron, Rashad and Leon, who last worked together on the critically acclaimed Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Sony TV movie “A Raisin in the Sun,” which won numerous NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding TV Movie, Miniseries, or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie, Miniseries, or Dramatic Special for Phylicia Rashad.

The phenomenal cast attended the New York City premiere that took place on Wednesday evening, October 3, 2012 at the Paris Theatre followed by a plush candlelight dinner in The Terrace Room of The Plaza Hotel.

Queen Latifah set the tone for a regal carpet looking svelte in an asymmetrical black dress accessorized with a drop dead gorgeous necklace and black pumps.  She wore her honey-hued hair up in a high bun to complete her stylish look.  “Pariah” leading actress, Vanity Fair cover girl and now Steel Magnolia star Adepero Oduye donned a striking cream-hued Grecian gown.

Singer-cum-actress Jill Scott stepped out in a champagne colored cocktail sequin dress rockin’ her natural tresses that she shows off on the cover of Essence’s October issue.  Alfre Woodard also commanded attention in sequins and paired her attention-grabbing dress with gold sandals.

Fashionistas Phylicia Rashad and Condola Rashad had heads spinning around to capture their expensive threads.  Phylicia wore a sleek 3-piece wine colored ensemble, while Condola wore an elaborately embroidered cocktail dress.

Once inside the party room guests dined on fine southern cuisine in an aromatic atmosphere engulfed in sweet magnolias that adorned each table.  Guests partied until midnight taking home swag bags containing magnolia candles and yummy Red Velvet cupcakes wrapped in chocolate — making for a very sweet ending.

audrey j bernard

Audrey J. Bernard