Reba McEntire to star in and executive produce TV series based on ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’

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Reba McEntire [Photo by Robby Klein]

Country Music Hall of Famer, Golden Globe-nominated actor and Kennedy Center honoree Reba McEntire is attached to star in a series based on the acclaimed book and movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” with Norman Lear executive producing, on NBC, according to Variety.

Along with starring, McEntire will executive produce the hourlong drama series. Jennifer Cecil (“Hell on Wheels,” “Notorious”) is attached to write and executive produce.

Lear, who was an executive producer on the 1991 film, and his producing partner Brent Miller will executive produce under their Act III Productions banner, according to Variety. Universal Television will serve as the studio.

The series is billed as a modernization of that delves into the lives of the descendants of the original 1987 novel “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” and the 1991 film directed by Jon Avnet, according to Variety.

Reba would star as the present-day Idgie Threadgoode – the role played by Mary Stuart Masterson in the movie – who returns to the much-changed town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, after a decade away. She must cope with an estranged daughter, flagging cafe and life-altering secret.

Fannie Flagg, who penned the original novel, will executive produce, according to Variety. The author earned an Oscar nomination, along with the late Carol Sobieski, for penning the screenplay for the film.

Flagg has written other novels – “Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man,” “Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!,” “Standing in the Rainbow,” and “A Redbird Christmas” – but “Fried Green Tomatoes” remains her best-known work.

Although she is best known as one of country music’s top hitmakers, Reba also is a seasoned actor who has 11 movie credits to her name, played a lead role on Broadway in Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” and starred for six seasons in the TV sitcom “Reba.”

McEntire’s eponymous TV show aired from 2001-2007, but it has remained popular in syndication. Reruns are currently airing several times a week on CMT, and all six seasons are available for streaming on Hulu.

Although her follow-up sitcom, “Malibu Country,” was short-lived, Reba has frequently appeared as a guest star on TV shows like “Young Sheldon,” “Last Man Standing” and “Baby Daddy.”

Lear is one of the most legendary producers ever to work in TV, with credits including iconic shows like “The Jeffersons,” “One Day at a Time,” “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son” and “Good Times.”

At age 98, he and Act III are under a first-look deal at Sony Pictures Television, according to Variety. Current projects include the reboot of “One Day at a Time,” the docuseries “America Divided,” and the “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” specials, which allowed Lear to recently break his own record for being the oldest person ever to win an Emmy Award.

“Fried Green Tomatoes” was ahead of its time – and in some ways, still is. The 1991 film was unusual in that both main storylines focused on women: Bates starred as an unhappy housewife who befriends a elderly female nursing home resident (Jessica Tandy, who earned an Oscar nomination for the role) and becomes fascinated by the old lady’s stories about Idgie and her best friend Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker).

It was unusual in the 1990s for a major motion picture to center on so many women characters and to boast such strong themes of female empowerment. Plus, the movie includes a prominent subplot about Idgie’s Whistlestop Cafe employees Sipsey (Cicely Tyson) and Big George (Stan Shaw), who are Black and deal with racism in the small Southern town.

Hopefully, “Fried Green Tomatoes” will bring that same focus on the stories of women and people of color to television.

-BAM

 

 

 

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