When Madea Wasn't Enuf, Tyler Perry Went Over the Rainbow
It's been just seven years since Lionsgate's soothsaying president of production Mike Paseornek had the stroke of genius to take Tyler Perry -- a sort of dumbed-down, cross-dressing George Bernard Shaw of the contemporary African-American theater circuit -- and see how his wildly successful stage shows might fare on the big screen. A dozen self-written features, one non-union TV series, and a peculiar appearance in a summer sci-fi reboot later, and it's safe to say Perry and his alter ego Mabel "Madea" Simmons are doing just fine, thanks: His 2008 earnings alone are estimated at around $125 million.
Now Lionsgate wants him to branch out into other proven theatrical properties, ones that Perry hasn't himself written. Before we had monologues for vaginas, before Heidi scribbled down her Chronicles, we had For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.
FCGWHCSWtRiE is a 1975 off-Broadway stage play based around 20 poems performed by a color-coded cast of nameless African-American women, who are referred to only as "Lady in Yellow," "Lady in Blue," etc. The frequently difficult material, encompassing topics like rape, abuse, abortion and political activism, hems closer to the brutal inner-city salvation of Precious -- the Sundance hit Lionsgate acquired and Perry and Oprah Winfrey have added their highly lucrative names to as executive producers -- than the domestic squabbles and burlesque of the Madea films.
I look forward to seeing how Perry, who's writing, directing and producing the adaptation, will update the "choreopoem" for the big screen. It might not do Madea Goes to Jail numbers, but either way Lionsgate comes out smelling roses -- there's no denying bankrolling a three-decade-old experimental feminist theater piece cancels out four more Saw sequels when you get to minimajor mogul heaven.
· Lionsgate taps Tyler Perry for 'Rainbow' [Variety]