Reba McEntire is set to star in a new NBC series based on the novel and film "Fried Green Tomatoes," according to Variety. The hourlong drama, with Norman Lear executive producing, is described "as a modernization of the novel and movie that explores the lives of descendants from the original work."
The 1991 film is based on Fannie Flagg's 1987 novel "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" that tells the story of Evelyn Couch, a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny Threadgoode, an elderly woman who lives in a nursing home. They endure a blossoming friendship through stories from Threadgoode's youth in rural Alabama. Every week, she tells stories about her sister-in-law, Idgie, and her friend, Ruth.
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The film was a box office and critically acclaimed hit, grossing $119.4 million worldwide on an $11 million budget. It was nominated for two Oscars in 1992, for best supporting actress for Jessica Tandy's performance and best adapted screenplay.
The new NBC dramatic series will reimagine present-day Idgie, played by McEntire, returning to Whistle Stop after a decade away. Her struggles deal with a changed town, estranged daughter, failing cafe and life-changing secret.
Unlike the novel, the 1991 film does not explicitly articulate a lesbian romance between Idgie and Ruth, instead leaving their relationship ambiguous.
"I had no interest in going into the bedroom,” director Jon Avnet told Entertainment Weekly back in 1992 of why the story was adapted a tad differently. Flagg, who co-wrote the screenplay, added, “It’s not a political film at all. It’s about the possibilities of people being sweet and loving each other.”
Mary Stuart Masterson, who played Idgie in the film, said at the time, “The movie isn’t really about their relationship in terms of their sexuality, no matter what that might be.”
But despite the skirting around of their romantic connection, the film still won an award for the best feature film with lesbian content from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
“Lesbians are invisible in Hollywood,” said GLAAD executive director Ellen Carton, according to EW. “The only movie coming up that portrays one at all is 'Basic Instinct,' and she’s a man-hating killer. 'Tomatoes' filmmakers may have wanted to tone down the lesbian content. Too bad. But we recognize these women as lesbians. And giving the award is a way for us to acknowledge that these are lesbians.”
“It’s a mainstream movie,” Flagg said. “People are taking children, they’re taking old people. It speaks to everybody. That’s what’s wonderful. They can make up their own minds.”