Friday, September 4, 2009

Tyler Perry Over the Rainbow?

Word on the street is that Tyler Perry has been tapped by Lionsgate to write, produce and direct the movie version of Ntozake Shange's stage play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf . [See more information here.] I'm really not okay with this. No doubt Tyler Perry has made great strides in building his media empire outside the dictates of Hollywood and has created opportunities for actors of color. He has put his clout behind upcoming projects like Precious which may not have otherwise gotten a distribution deal. But none of his films to date have been on par with the caliber of Ms. Shange's material. He hasn't yet proven that he has the chops for such serious film-making. And I'm not saying he should not have that opportunity to grow, but I don't agree that this is the vehicle to prove himself. In fact, I'm disheartened that a black woman has not been tapped for this project which is so intrinsically and intimately about the experiences of black women. Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou and Talk to Me), Euzhan Palcy (A Dry White Season), Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records)--any of these women and others could helm this project. [See list of other black female directors here.] Given the dearth of women and especially women of color making strides in the mainstream movie industry today, I believe this opportunity should be afforded to one of them.

UPDATE: Rumor has it that Perry wrangled the project away from an African-American female director Nzingha Stewart who had already written a screenplay fo rthe project. [See here.] Some folks in the blogosphere who think like me are hot. I'll keep you updated.

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