Woman Loses Directing Gig to Tyler Perry

by Melissa Silverstein on September 8, 2009

in Women Directors

6a00c22529945d8fdb00f48ceda05e0003-500piLast March Lionsgate (Tyler Perry’s home studio) announced that it has acquired the rights to the classic Ntozake Shange’s play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. It also announced that Nzingha Stewart was going to be directing the film from her script adaptation.

Last week brought news that Perry has taken over the project as the writer and director.  Lionsgate re-announced the acquisition of the project this time as the first vehicle for Perry’s production company 34th Street Films which is housed at Lionsgate.  Film starts shooting in November with an all-star cast (none of the actors were named.)

Here’s what Perry had to say:

Making a film of FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF is a dream come true for me. Ntozake Shange’s play is a magnificent tribute to the strength and dignity of women of color, and I think audiences of all generations will be able to recognize and embrace the experiences these women represent. Creatively, this movie is one of the most exciting undertakings of my career, and I’m excited to start production this November.

Sigh.  On the one hand I’m really glad that this film is now on the fast track   Perry can clearly generate audiences for his work and hopefully people will come out and see this film too.  But let’s note, that an African American female director was announced for this film 6 months ago, and that can’t be ignored.  I know that directors get replaced all the time but to send out a press release on September 2 as if the announcement from March 25th didn’t exist just doesn’t fly.  They could have at least acknowledged that she had been involved with the project.  We have so few women directors, and fewer African American women directors, that Stewart’s loss of this project is worth noting.

Tyler Perry’s Black Feminist Classic (Salon)

Lionsgate & Tyler Perry To Make Movie Of ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf’ (Deadline Hollywood)

Lionsgate Acquires Suicide (Variety)


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

? September 8, 2009 at 9:31 AM

I think Stewart and Perry are repped by the same agent. What happened?

Faith September 8, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Thank you so much for covering this. Aside from the mass groan heard across all of us who use social media at the press release that Perry was being allowed to butcher this classic I want to know how Stewart got axed when she had purchased the film rights and written a screenplay.

Patranila September 8, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Oh just can’t wait to see how TP is going to insinuate Madea into For Colored Girls. Give me a friggin’ break. Nothing against his hustle and his success but Tyler Perry taking on For Colored Girls is like Julie Dash directing Schindler’s List. I wonder how Ntozake feels about all this.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist September 8, 2009 at 11:07 AM

that’s a damn shame.

Observer September 11, 2009 at 8:53 PM

You people are way to cynical for me. Who know’s what happened? obviously the author is ok, with this. Maybe Stewart..for whatever reason couldnt do it or maybe she’ll get a producers credit. Either way Perry has the creditals (He was a playwrite FIRST and all his movies are were plays before they became movies) and the audience(Madea goes to Jail grossed 90 million)to bring this to the masses. Sometimes you need a “Headliner” or Star to draw attention to material. I would be really pissed if Stewart got this classic material and it went stright to DVD and nobody saw it. Think about it!

Melissa Silverstein September 13, 2009 at 10:49 PM

I agree that Perry is a headliner and draws the masses but there is something fishy here. Why didn’t he want to direct it when Lionsgate bought it 6 months ago. Now he’s getting all feminist cause he is executive producing precious. Please.

Chris September 15, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Uh, Perry’s name alone being associated with it is enough for it not to go straight to DVD. No reason for him to write it.

But aside from the feminist issue, he’s an absolutely HORRIBLE writer and people are worried he’s going to ruin the QUALITY of the project.

tallulahbankhead September 24, 2009 at 3:39 AM

I know this happens all the time e.g. Antoine Fuqua was replaced by Ridley Scott on ‘American Gangster.’ It’s indicative of the industry ecosystem. But I would love for Women and Hollywood to interview Nzingha Stewart to find out why she’s not helming the project and what are her plans?

And also to hear Ntozake Shange’s thoughts on Tyler telling the story?

tony stern September 3, 2010 at 2:48 PM

I heard For Colored Girls is going up on a mainstage in Hollywood. Does anybody know when?

Carole Gregory November 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

I am surprised that this happened. I wonder if Ntozake
Shange knew a SISTER was mistreated like this. The Ntozake that
I kno would not have permitted this to happen. Let’s contact the
writer, and perhaps the SISTER DIRECTOR could get more
work later.

I personally have 10 plays that I would like to see on screen.

Blessings – Carole Beaubien Gregoy

Email – Marymagdeline_2@yahoo.com

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