PORGY & BESS Movie Remake in the works, Dee Rees to direct

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https://www.broadway.com/buzz/198394/porgy-and-bess-screen-remake-in-development-from-oscar-nominee-dee-rees/

This is exciting and unexpected! I cant imagine any big Hollywood names have the vocal talent to do this...
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James Corden and Meryl Streep

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Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman

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I also don’t know any Hollywood names who will be able to play the title characters. And Porgy and Bess isn’t a score that you can really cheat around. I’m not entirely sure if he’d fit the part vocally, but I’d be interested to see Sterling K. Brown as Sportin Life. He’s got a surprisingly good voice, and from what I hear I think it could fit into that role’s range, and I think he could definitely act the part.
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This is why we need to bring dubbing back to musicals so that we can open this up to any number of actors and actresses who can get big box office numbers.
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I’m not opposed to dubbing for this. Get some great stars who can act the hell out of the roles - Sterling K. Brown is a great suggestion for Sportin’ Life - and then dub them with some phenomenal, actual opera singers. That’s the way to make this work.
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Jordan Catalano said: "This is why we need to bring dubbing back to musicals so that we can open this up to any number of actors and actresses who can get big box office numbers."

I understand where you are coming from, but I would rather watch Pierce Brosnan struggle through a song than watch someone fake it to someone else's voice. It has always bothered me knowing that damn near the entire cast of South Pacific is dubbed. But that's just me.

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jimmycurry01 said: "Jordan Catalano said: "This is why we need to bring dubbing back to musicals so that we can open this up to any number of actors and actresses who can get big box office numbers."

I understand where you are coming from, but I would rather watch Pierce Brosnan struggle through a song than watch someone fake it to someone else's voice. It has always bothered me knowing that damn near the entire cast of South Pacific is dubbed. But that's just me.
"


Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all knowing someone is dubbed. I’m watching a character, and if it takes two people to bring the components of that character together in order the make the end result stronger, then so be it. In WSS, I’m not watching Natalie Wood, I’m watching Maria - so I don’t care that it’s not Natalie Wood’s voice. 

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Could this be an awards play for Audra? She won the Tony for this role (and, of course, five others), has some recognition from "The Good Fight" and "Private Practice," and Dee Rees is on the awards radar after "Mudbound."

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Brave Sir Robin2 said: "Could this be an awards play for Audra? She won the Tony for this role (and, of course, five others), has some recognition from "The Good Fight" and "Private Practice," and Dee Rees is on the awards radar after "Mudbound.""

In all honesty, she’s probably the most mainstream actress capable of doing the part. Hollywood already has issues with diversity, and then factor in how many big names could actually sing the part, I don’t know of anyone more famous than Audra who could play the part. I get the feeling that this project may get scrapped, as they’re really gonna struggle to find big names who can actually play Porgy and Bess.

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Yeah, wake me up when it actually happens.

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Rebecca Ferguson’s character in GREATEST SHOWMAN showed us that you can still have a recognisable name dubbed with an excellent singer it works wonderfully. There’s definitely enough space in the world for the actor and the singer to work side by side instead of them being the same person and getting mediocre results.
Let’s cast some huge name in this movie but have them dubbed by wonderful singers.
"Charlotte, we're Jewish"
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EXCELLENT reminder about Ferguson!
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The key thing with Ferguson's dubbing, though, was that the role also had a lot of dialogue that called for her natural acting chops. Porgy and Bess, as an opera, is entirely sung-through. What acting would the dubbed big-name stars actually be doing? Pantomime-esque? Hand gestures?

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That’s a very valid point. But there are also no movie stars (or even people who can break even a budget of a film like this) who have the singing abilities needed for the roles. So unless they’re willing to take a loss and cast unknowns or someone like Audra, how will this work?
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bk said: "Yeah, wake me up when it actually happens."

Thanks, Bruce -- we're good.  Please stay asleep.

 

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I can see a world where they take the brief of the last revival to 'make it less opera and more musical theater' even further.  I can see a world where Audra stars and is surrounded by Jaime Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Sterling K. Brown, Anika Noni Rose and even a Mary J. Blige.

With Dee Rees as director, I can't imagine it's going to be some major studio blockbuster.

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Ado Annie D'Ysquith said: "The key thing with Ferguson's dubbing, though, was that the role also had a lot of dialogue that called for her natural acting chops. Porgy and Bess, as an opera, is entirely sung-through. What acting would the dubbed big-name stars actually be doing? Pantomime-esque? Hand gestures?"

Not to mention, she was a supporting role who only had the one big song. Also, her character’s supposed to be the greatest opera singer alive, so they needed an amazing voice (in all fairness, I don’t quite understand why they casted Ferguson whose not a big name when a more mainstream broadway actress like Jessie Mueller could’ve both acted and sang it). Anyway, people can accept a case like that, but they’d be much less forgiving of that happening with a leading role, especially in an opera.

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When I was young[and innocent] I had no idea that it wasn't the actors doing the singing, except for Nelson and Jeanette and I was shocked, yes shocked to learn all these years later that the majority were dubbed.

I didn't notice because I suppose I knew nothing about 'dubbing'.

and I was shocked to be told re Christine in POTO-----dreams crumble.

So, I love Porgy & Bess and I certainly do not want to see famous faces sing their fake txts off while someone else does all the work.

It's like Britney miming--her own voice, yes, but lazy and not working it.

If you can't sell it with Real Singers, then don't make it.

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Read the DEADLINE article that broke the story. It includes a lengthy statement from Dee Rees, which many of you obviously haven't read:

"With the help of a terrific artistic team, my vision is to invest this community with a new agency and re-locate the characters from a fictional landscape mostly viewed from the outside to a real geography with actual historical and cultural roots, relevance, and consequence and that has been built and lived from the inside......By accessing the spirit of the lyrics as they’ve been conjured, reinterpreted, and rearranged by greats like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, I’m most excited about inviting today’s brightest musical talents to lend new voice and spirit to both the joys and the frustrations of the ongoing struggle of African American citizens in this country. In this new adaptation, I’m hoping to raise the stakes for our hero and heroine, giving them full expression of existence placing emphasis not just on the circumstantial but on their rich inner lives and emotional pasts."

 

So, it sounds to me like it WON'T be set in Catfish Row in the 20s, and it WON'T be an opera. I do think it would be interesting to hear the score reinterpreted in a context that adds more modern relevance to a 21st century film –– whether that's ultimately successful or not is a different story, but it's worth a try. Remember also that P&B enters the public domain in the near future, and the Gershwin Estate is obviously invested in finding new ways to revitalize the brothers' work in a way that it can be relevant to 21st century listeners and audiences.

Please also keep in mind that [a] Dee Rees's latest film, The Last Thing He Wanted (Netflix), has a 6% RottenTomatoes rating; [b] this is a passion project for 88-year-old Irwin Winkler; [c] MGM is behind it, and aside from James Bond they've had a pretty awful track record recently. I'll believe it's happening when we see a trailer.

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Well I certainly hope it won't be reinterpreted like those mostly dreadful reinterpretations of the R&H classics recently.

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This does raise a point that had occurred to me a day ago: the songs in this opera exist in the popular culture as jazz standards, not as operatic arias. The most popular recording of the show is almost surely the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong version, not anything with actual operatic voices.

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Yes, I think it could be interesting to see Porgy infused with a non-operatic form (jazz, pop, r&b, etc), depending on the time period/place that it's set in.

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I will say that I'm very nervous about Dee Rees taking on this project. Maybe she'll knock it out of the park, but I haven't enjoyed any of her films that I've seen. And her new movie, The Last Thing He Wanted, has just been shredded by critics and audiences. She tends to have issues with focus and pacing, which could really kill a Porgy adaptation.