Music TCA TV/CABLE

Lifetime Makes Safe Bette With “Beaches”

(L-R) Executive producer Denise Di Novi, director Allison Anders, actresses Idina Menzel and Nia Long and executive producer Alison Greenspan.
(L-R) Executive producer Denise Di Novi, director Allison Anders, actresses Idina Menzel and Nia Long and executive producer Alison Greenspan.

“Now, almost 30 years later, we’re excited to invite an entirely new generation to come along on this journey with us, to feel what it’s like to love your best friend, to laugh, cry, and fight for life together, until the bitter end.”  Liz Gateley, head of programming at Lifetime

Beaches on Lifetime

By Valerie Milano

Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/14/17 – Lifetime premiered it’s made for TV reboot of the grandmother of all chick flicks, Beaches. Idina Menzel (“Frozen”) tackles the roll of C.C., the scrappy song bird who has hit the big time and is best friend to Hillary played by Nia Long (“The Best Man Holiday”)  in the role made famous by Barbara Hershey.  The story tracks the lives of these two women from childhood through to adulthood and the great beyond.

beaches4Lifetime hit a stroke  of uncommon luck in eventizing Beaches against the backdrop of the ‘zillion’ women march that crashed over the nation like a Tsunami all day Saturday leading up to the Beaches premiere and the after-party with the show’s cast members.

The Beaches purist will cry foul  in the wake of this unneccessary remake. A plot  rethink finds the couple meeting on the boardwalk in Venice California instead of Atlantic City, and re-imagines C.C. as a Hollywood up and comer instead of a Broadway star.  However, a whole new generation of girls and young women will weep anew at the durable story about love, Friendship, and mortality based on the novel by Iris Rainer.

Don’t expect a lot of razzle dazzle from this production. Scenes (as directed by Allison Anders),  bolt together in a clunky but solid “made-for-TV” manner. The music soundtrack which was the original films most effective promotional tool – is given a millennial makeover by music supervisor Lesley Barber. Mega-hit and wedding/funeral standard “Wind Beneath My Wings” (in particular) tries to drain some of the sap out of the original with a discreet beat structure and soulful filigree.  Idina Menzel is a Broadway singer of uncommon range and precision. However, as an actress,  meeting bar set by Bette Midler as C.C. is a bit much to ask.

beaches5Cranky film buffs can cry foul all They want. Lifetime didn’t make this version of Beaches for them. They made it for young girls and millennial women still buzzing from the  high of empowerment and sisterhood conferred by the day’s  events. Kids  who previously scrolled past “Wind Beneath my Wings” might embrace it as their anthem. Take away the baggage of tho original film, and Beaches (made for TV) shines brightly.

THT recently had the opportunity to speak with , Idina Menzel, and NAACP award winner, Nia Long, Allison Anders; Idina Menzel, Nia Long; and, executive producer, Alison Greenspan.

Idina Menzel talked about tackling the daunting task of singing the epic, “Wing Beneath My Wings” for a whole new generations of “Beaches” devotes:

“I was trying to find my own spin on it, and that was because of my amazing producer who found a new underpinning for it, to kind of bring out new modern sounds, and it was actually enjoyable for me.”

Nia Long talked about her emotional connection to “Beaches”:

Idina Menzel looks chic as she talks Beaches remake at TCA panel
Idina Menzel looks chic as she talks Beaches remake at TCA panel

“Well, I am a huge fan. I think if you look at any of my earlier interviews, you will see that my top five, “Beaches” was always included. I just think it’s a film that touches women on such a deep level, touches men on such a deep level. But this is really a film about friendship, and about sisterhood, and about girl power. And growing up in South Central Los Angeles, and then moving to a big city, and living in New York, and living bi-coastal, your friendships are the things that keep you grounded.”

Star Idina Menzel also admitted a deep connection to the original film and her trepidation about trying to follow Bette Midler in the role of C.C.:

“Well, I saw the movie back in high school with two of my best friends. We cried our eyes out in the movie theater, so it has quite a nostalgic it’s quite a nostalgic memory for me. But, I mean, if I’m being completely honest, I was terrified to do it at first, because I love the movie. I think it’s a beautiful, beautiful movie.”

idina-menzel-sings-the-beaches-soundtrackAllison Anders was asked why “Beaches” needed a remake:

“I think that what we are able to do is update the friendship with Nikole’s script, and also with the performances. And we were also able to update the music. You know, Idina does such beautiful versions of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “Glory of Love,” but then we’ve also got new stuff in there as well.”

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