Golden Globe and Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah has signed on to star in and executive produce the Lifetime Original Movie Event, Steel Magnolias, a television adaptation of the iconic play and 1989 film of the same name, reuniting her with her producing duo Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, from the Oscar and Golden Globe winning Chicago and Hairspray. (Zadan and Meron also produce Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva and Smash.) She will take on the role of 'M'Lynn' and star alongside an all-star cast that includes Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad as 'Clairee,' Golden Globe and multiple Emmy winner Alfre Woodard as 'Ouiser,' Grammy winner Jill Scott as 'Truvy,' Adepero Oduye as 'Annelle,' and Condola Rashad as 'Shelby.' The announcement was made today by Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of Lifetime Networks.
Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Steel Magnolias will be executive produced by Zadan, Meron, Latifah, and Shakim Compere (Single Ladies) and Shelby Stone. Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) is set to direct the script that has been adapted for television by Sally Robinson (Iron Jawed Angels) and is based on the play and screenplay by Robert Harling (The First Wives Club). 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 of 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.
In an updated contemporary version, Steel Magnolias chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana. 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. Production will commence this April in Atlanta, for a debut in 2012 on Lifetime.
"The caliber of talent we have for this film is astounding. Queen Latifah, Phylicia, Alfre, Jill, Adepero and Condola are some of the most celebrated women in music, film, television and stage – and we could not be more thrilled and honored for them to bring Robert Harling's poignant story about the strength of women to a whole new generation," said Dubuc.
"It is an honor for us to be revisiting the classic Sony film Steel Magnolias under the creative auspices of our producing partners Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the acclaimed director Kenny Leon and a team of brilliant actors including Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard and Jill Scott," said Helen Verno, Executive Vice President of Movies and Miniseries, Sony Pictures Television.
Queen Latifah is an actress, singer and recording actress who has amassed a wide range of accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, two NAACP Image Awards and a Grammy Award. She's also received six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination. Her film credits include the role of the feisty warden 'Matron "Mama" Morton' in Chicago, for which she received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination. She also starred in Hairspray, The Secret Lives of Bees, Beauty Shop and Joyful Noise. For television, Queen Latifah's role as an HIV-positive woman in Life Support earned her a Golden Globe Award, SAG Award and NAACP Image Award, as well as an Emmy nomination. Her Production Company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, she runs with partner Shakim Compere.
Acclaimed stage and television director, Kenny Leon's Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun in 2004 starring Sean P. Diddy Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald. He then reunited with this cast in 2008 to direct the television version of A Raisin in the Sun, which aired on ABC. Leon was nominated for a Tony Award in 2010 for Best Director for his work on August Wilson's Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, earning them both Tony nominations and wins. In 2011, Leon directed the Broadway premiere of The Mountaintop, starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, as well as Stick Fly, which was produced by Alicia Keys and stars Dule Hill, Mekhi Phifer and Condola Rashad.
Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad is best known for her role as Claire Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom, The Cosby Show. In 2004, Rashad became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She reprised that role for the 2008 television adaptation featuring Sean P. Diddy Combs, earning her a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special. Rashad's Broadway credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Dream Girls, The Wiz and Into The Woods. Her television credits include Everybody Hates Chris and Psych. Most recently, Rashad was cast as one of the leads in an NBC pilot entitled Do No Harm which she is currently shooting. In 2010, she was featured in the film, For Colored Girls, and appeared in the Tyler Perry film Good Deeds that was released earlier this year. Additionally, she stars opposite Christopher Walken, John Turturro and Sharon Stone in Gods' Behavng Badly, which is scheduled to be released later this year.