Here’s the deal: Sony Pictures has decided to turn the 70’s television sitcom Good Times into a feature-length film. Last week, Deadline reported that Sony has tapped producer Scott Rudin and writer Phil Johnston to head the project. (Before we go all Spike Lee and question whether a couple of white dudes should be in charge of this, let’s all take a moment to exhale a collective sigh of relief that Mr. Perry is nowhere near the project.) Now, the film is in the very beginning stages, but what we do know is that, as Deadline put it, “The movie will be set in the 1960s, which gives Johnston a rich and politically charged period to mine.” Because, you know, the 60s is, like, the only politically charged period ever, the 70s was really all about disco, and black people can sit anywhere on the bus now and there’s a black president so they couldn’t possibly update the series. But I digress.
Anyway, since there are very little rumors circulating about the flick, I thought I’d take this morning to issue myself a bit of a Good Times movie challenge. That is, I do what Hollywood seemingly can’t: I cast a non-Tyler Perry, mainstream Hollywood film starring black people without using the names Kerry Washington, Zoe Saldana, and Halle Berry.
Pray for me.
Florida Evans — Before Mrs. Huxtable, there was Florida Evans, the afro-rocking matriarch of the Evans family played by the iconic Esther Rolle. Though Jenifer Lewis and Loretta Devine stay playing somebody’s mama, at this point they’re prolly too niche (and by niche I mean black) and don’t have enough star power behind their names. Enter–no, not Angela Bassett–Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens. For a nice chunk of change and a production credit for the Flava Unit, I’m sure she’s in there. Plus, she’s totally into playing moms now. She played M’Lynn in the Steel Magnolias remake and will be back in America’s living rooms this fall with a new talk show, wherein I anticipate her attempting to fill the void Ms. Winfrey left since she decided to become a full-time televangelist.
James Evans Sr. — You know Jamie Foxx probably does a spot-on James Evans imitation, right? Alas, I don’t think he plays Mr. Evans. That role should go to America’s second favorite black man, Samuel L. Jackson. If Good Times had not been on network television, I’m pretty sure James Evans would’ve said “fuck” a lot. And who says fuck better than Sam Jack?
Thelma Evans — From what I can tell, there are approximately two young black actresses folks pay scant attention to: Jurnee Smollett and Keke Palmer. Therefore, I opt for the latter actress because I think her afro wig will be better.
Michael Evans — Since this remake is taking place in the 60s, I can only imagine that the mini-militant will be extra crunk this go ’round. I’m going to go with an older actor to play Michael this time. Who? Donald Glover. Glover gets your hipsters in the seats. Even though I’m sure they’ve seen Good Times, I think casting Glover means they’d actually support the film in a non-ironic way. And they’ll totally take
James “J.J.” Evans Jr. — Which second generation Wayans is the least funny? That dude.
Penny — Willow Smith. Why? Not because she’s the only person not named Ms. Wallis that I can think of. Not because other folks prolly have the same thought. Because, according to Questlove, she had 80% of her meals in a kitchen that was theexact replica of the Good Times kitchen.
Willona — The resident fashionista of the projects, now is the time to talk up an excuse about why I had to cast Olivia Pope in this role. I won’t, though. Instead, I think the writers will declare that this role requires a little unnecessary sassiness. And who’s more unnecessarily sassy than Taraji PPPPPPP! Henson? That’s right, nobody.
I’m going to keep score, see how many actors I get write as news about the project trickles in. In the meantime, I’ll just hope and pray that someone over at Sony has the wherewithal to forget about all about Kevin Hart cast Katt Williams as Sweet Daddy. (You know you want that, too.) In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll hear from Dr. Cosby and/or Spike sooner than later. At least one of them is mad as hell about this.