Combs, McDonald and Rashad to Star in TV "Raisin in the Sun"

News   Combs, McDonald and Rashad to Star in TV "Raisin in the Sun"
The cast of the 2004 Tony - nominated Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun will star in a small-screen version of the classic play.

Audra McDonald and Sean Combs in A Raisin in the Sun.
Audra McDonald and Sean Combs in A Raisin in the Sun. Photo by Joan Marcus

Variety reports that Sean "Diddy" Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan — who all starred in the recent Broadway revival — will head the cast of the TV version, which will begin filming this December in Toronto. A 2007 bow on ABC-TV is expected.

Kenny Leon, who helmed the Broadway revival at the Royale Theatre, will direct the TV film, which will utilize a script penned by Paris Qualles based on the original Hansberry play. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose other television projects include the Brandy "Cinderella," the Bette Midler "Gypsy" and "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," are producing for Sony Pictures.

Combs, who made his Broadway debut in Raisin, told the industry paper, "There are so many things the younger generation can get out of this. It's an American story of overcoming obstacles that still rings true. It's important for people of color, especially younger ones, to see this."

A Raisin in the Sun concerns Walter Lee, who chafes at his straightened circumstances and longs for a business deal that would lift him out of his limited world. He has his eye on his late father's insurance, but Walter's mother wants to use that money to move the family out of the city.

A Raisin in the Sun premiered in 1959. It was the first Broadway play written by, directed by and starring African-Americans. Lloyd Richards directed. In the cast were Poitier, Claudia McNeil as the mother, Diana Sands, Ruby Dee, Louis Gossett, Ivan Dixon, Glynn Turman, John Fielder, Lonne Elder III, Ed Hall and Douglas Turner. It ran 530 performances. A 1961 film version followed, as did a later 1991 TV movie. It was also the basis for the musical, Raisin. The 2004 revival was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Play. It won Tonys for co-stars Rashad and McDonald.

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