We live in an age of unnecessary remakes, reunions and sequels.
But once in a great while, one of these ideas just makes perfect sense.
Lifetime's remake of Steel Magnolias, premiering at 8 p.m. Sunday, is a good example.
The TV movie, about the good times and heartbreaks experienced by six charismatic Southern women, is more or less the same as the 1989 feature film.
But there's one simple twist that changes everything: The characters in the new Steel Magnolias are all played by African-American actresses.
Instead of Sally Field, we've got Queen Latifah. Instead of Shirley MacLaine, it's Alfre Woodard. There's Phylicia Rashad instead of Olympia Dukakis, Jill Scott instead of Dolly Parton and so on.
The rest is just as it always was -- women congregating at Truvy's beauty shop to ponder all the topics that unite them: hair and nails, husbands and children, life and death.
As a result, the movie feels familiar, yet new and fresh at the same time.
That's why Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the producing duo behind the Oscar-winning feature-film adaptation of Chicago, believe the word "remake" doesn't apply to the new Steel Magnolias.
"In the theater, you do what they call revivals," Zadan says. "It may have been done as a play earlier, and then it's done later on with other casts, but each production is different and relevant.
"We approached it as though it was a new piece of writing. We were looking at it based on what's on the page, not on what's been done previously. So when you see Jill Scott's performance, as an example, it does not make you think of Dolly Parton remotely. The same goes for everybody in the cast."
Adds Meron: "We think Steel Magnolias is a timeless and universal piece. It works in whatever community you set it in."
Came together quickly
That's why the movie was so easy to cast, so easy to "green-light." When the producers contacted Queen Latifah about starring as M'Lynn, she agreed immediately, no questions asked.
It's one of the few jobs she has ever taken, Latifah says, "without having read the script first."
In fact, she felt so strongly about making the movie, she also signed on as an executive producer.
Lifetime was just as eager to stage this "revival."
"We went to Lifetime, and we said, 'We have this team. Are you interested in this movie?'" Zadan says. "Without a second's delay, they said to us, 'When can you start shooting?'
"It turns out that this is [network president] Nancy Dubuc's absolute favorite play and original movie and she thought it would make a great new version for a new generation with this cast."
Latifah is also a big fan of the play and the first movie, written by playwright Robert Harling. But this version is unique, she says, because of the "whirlpool of acting talent" that was brought in.
Latifah was in awe of one co-star in particular: Rashad, the former Cosby Show mom.
"How can you have Clair Huxtable on the set and not want to pick her brain?" Latifah says. "She's super. She was the world's favorite mom. I mean, she was the Michelle Obama before Michelle Obama.
"But, of course, she's not Clair Huxtable. She's Phylicia Rashad and she has so much more cool points than Clair ever had. It was pretty awesome."
For Lifetime fans
Meanwhile, Rashad's real-life daughter, Condola Rashad, played Latifah's onscreen daughter. It was pretty "trippy" to be able to share that connection with her idol, Latifah says.
Latifah is convinced that Lifetime viewers are going to embrace the movie, and here's why:
"My assistant, who works super hard 24/7, is a faithful, faithful Lifetime viewer," she says. "Like, you can't pull her off the couch on the weekends, because she's watching all the Lifetime movies.
"And because of her, I know what Lifetime viewers like. And I think the die-hard Lifetime viewers are going to lose their minds over this. They're going to absolutely love it."