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Willow Smith to Play ‘Annie’

posted by Nell Minow

“Whip my Hair’s” Willow Smith, the daughter of mega-stars Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and sister of “Karate Kid’s” Jaden Smith is going to have a big-screen remake of her own. She will play Little Orphan Annie in the third version of the musical based on the plucky Depression-era girl with the red hair and the indomitable spirit.

Aileen Quinn starred in the musical film Annie, along with Carol Burnett as the wicked Miss Hannigan and Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, the Wall Street financier who learns from Annie the importance of family. A somewhat livelier version of Annie was remade for television with Oscar-winner Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan and an all-star cast of Broadway veterans including Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, and Kristin Chenoweth.

Before she sang about the hard knock life and the sun coming out tomorrow, Annie was the star of a comic strip created by Harold Grayin 1924, appearing in newspapers through June of last year. After Gray’s death, the strip was drawn and written by other artists, most notably the brilliantly talented Leonard Starr.

Annie was also a long-running radio series (you can hear it in “A Christmas Story”) and, an early example of multi-platform marketing, she appeared in books, comics, and as a doll, a game, and many, many other collectibles. A bittersweet documentary, Life After Tomorrow, is the story of the high-pressure atmosphere behind the scenes for the little girls who played Annie and the orphans in the musical show.

Who should co-star with Willow? And should they try to make it contemporary?



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mystery

    i dont like it one bit. annie isn’t black. im not races or anything but why would you want to turn a classic into something its not. People just stick to the right way. and how do we know if williow can even act. has anyone even seen her?

    • Nell Minow

      You are entirely wrong and uninformed, Mystery. Annie is a fictional character and thus open to re-interpretation. And race-blind casting is an excellent way to open up new opportunities for actors and new perspectives to audiences. African-American actresses have played Pollyanna, “Hello Dolly,” and Cinderella in highly successful and popular productions. And Willow Smith has shown herself to be a charming and talented performer in “Kit Kittredge” and her music videos. I’m not sure I’d call “Annie” a classic — it’s based on a comic strip — but even true classics like Shakespeare and Euripedes have benefited from race-blind casting. Give Willow’s “Annie” a try — I’ll bet you enjoy it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nancy

    Honestly, i think this movie’s gonna be really bad. i like willow and all, but this movie seems just like every other movie. someone trying to make a already big enough hit into something dumb. i may be wrong but i agree with you, mystery.

    • Nell Minow

      I try not to pre-judge movies, Nancy, and the Smiths have done pretty well so far, so I would not bet against them.

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