Why has there not been a Big Screen remake of Valley of the Dolls? I mean people LOVE this movie! Sure, for all the wrong reasons; but those wrong reasons are so right; and if it's wrong, I don't wanna be right. And if it's right; I KNOW it's not wrong.
Uncle Walt: since you acquired 20th Century Fox and (I'm assuming) its film library; then you own the rights to this property (I'm guessing). What are you waiting for? This could be the next Barbie movie! I mean, I'm sure you're kicking yourself for not acquiring that particular property (1.4 BILLION and counting...). And it's about dolls! Maybe you could remake it in stop motion with vintage Barbie dolls! Hey, now there's an idea!!!
So, I'm not going to propose writing a new script for this or anything; but it might be fun to simply refilm the original script by Helen Deutsch and Dorothy Kingsley in a contemporary setting. This might be the best way to go to ratchet up the absurdity, if that's even possible. I mean, in 2023, we don't really have "supper clubs" and "floor shows" (I don't think they really had them in 1967!). And I would ask the actors to play it "straight." Approach the material as high drama. This would be one way to go; but, oh, there would be so many ways to go. Except the way the 80's TV version went; which was down the toilet (and not in a good way).
So, this is really more about casting. Who, from today's group of celeb/thespians, would it be fun to put in this vehicle. Let's start with the star of the show: NEELY O'HARA. Originally played by Patty Duke, who gave a fever dream of a performance; Neely is the one people keep coming back for. She's a clinical narcissist; and I think we've all had to live with one of those since about 2016 (another red-head). Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?
How about Ms. Tay-Tay? Taylor Swift, that is...
That's Tony, supine on the bed. And Lee in the blue robe. I immediately thought of Jake Gyllenhaal, as one naturally would. He's handsome and sexy. He can sing. And he'd "get" it. But Joseph one-upped me. He said, Jake and his real life sister, Maggie, should play the pair. Genius!
Now we're on to some of the smaller roles. But in this movie, there are no small roles. Bit players in this show all gave memorable performances. Even people with no lines; like Neely's understudy for Tell Me Darling. Mr. Bellamy, the "entertainment lawyer" that Anne works for, gets some good lines and a great scene where he essentially fires Neely from Helen's big Broadway show. How about Alfonso Ribeiro? I've always loved him. He was the best thing on Fresh Prince, IMHO.
Oh, I almost forgot! Mel, Neely's long suffering husband. In the original he was played by Martin Milner. How about Dev Patel?
And I think I have just the perfect cameos for them! For Barbara, she has to have the "Reporter" role from the original that had Jacqueline Susann in the part.
Oh, wait a second! There's one last part that is a "lucky part" (TM/Reg./Pat.Pend.). It's the "Assistant Director" who goes to Neely's dressing room to get her on stage for the opening of Tell Me, Darling; only to find her in her costume for the second act. In the original this part was played by Richard Dreyfuss and in the 1981 TV remake, Nathan Lane. I think it's safe to say things worked out pretty well for the two of them, showbiz wise. So, I wanna give the part to someone I like; someone who impressed me; and that would be actor Alex Shaffer. I caught the movie Win Win one night and he was in it. A teen at the time, he played a high school wrestler. He also guest hosted an episode of Catfish(?). He had a certain something, I thought. Anyhow, I say, let's put him in the part and maybe he'll go on to mega-stardom.
So, I can't resist writing a little scene for our 21st Century Valley of the Dolls. How about Anne's first encounter with Helen Lawson where she's been sent (unbeknownst to her) into a trial by fire by Mr. Bellamy; in order to retrieve Helen's signature on some contracts? Works for me!
EXT. NYC STREET -DAY
A Checker cab rolls up in front of a shabby looking Broadway rehearsal studio. The rear door opens and Anne steps out. She is wearing a color-coordinated winter outfit. The street is dry and PEDESTRIANS pass by in short-sleeves and shorts. It is December, btw.
(NARRATING) The cab driver kept complaining about the lack of snow and slush. I told him he should see one of our New England winters. He looked at me funny. He asked me if I'd heard about something called global warming. I confessed I hadn't. I gave him ten dollars and told him to keep the change. He informed me I was thirty dollars short. He wanted more money. I confessed I didn't have any. I wrote him a check.
INT. REHEARSAL HALL -DAY
Anne approaches a small office where the MANAGER, a heavy set woman with a cigarette, is chattering into the phone. She looks at Anne.
I've got some papers for Helen Lawson to sign.
All the way down the hall. Take a left, then a right. You'll come to a small access tunnel. Go through that and then take the elevator to the third floor. Walk down the left-hand corridor. You'll come to some stairs. Go up the stairs and then right and then left. If you find yourself on the roof, come down the fire escape and start over. He dressing room the third door on the right. And if your Chinese zodiac is the year of The Goat, watch your step!
Anne nods and starts down the hall. She passes rehearsal studios. Chorus girls practicing their dance steps. We hear random unaccompanied PIANO MUSIC. Another room: acting class. The instructor is shouting: "Who?!" "What!?" "Where?!" "Why, why WHY?!!" "Why not???" A series of FADES as Anne traverses the Showbiz labyrinth. She emerges into a large space where numerous THEATER PEOPLE, enraptured, are listening to a young woman who is sitting in a chair on a platform, SINGING. She is wearing a threadbare striped sweater and black tights. She is totally into the song: SKY GODDESS.
(Singing)...you dug a hole and you didn't know why; and you fell through a hole in the sky.
You were falling and calling but nobody came
You were tumbling down; you'd forgotten your name...
Anne continues on until she finally finds Helen's dressing room. She stands in the hall and peeps into the room. HELEN LAWSON, (of a certain age), is sitting on a sofa looking at costume sketches and fabric samples. She's shaking her head in disgust. She flips through the sketches, dropping them dismissively on the floor.
Ugly! Beastly! Eccch! Bleccch! Yuck!
She holds one up. The costume is plain and somber.
Oh hell no!
She throws the sketch out the door and it lands at Anne's feet. The MAN she is directing her disdain towards is the creator of the show. He is a Native American man, in his 30's or 40's. This is KAINTWAKON (A.K.A KAIN).
This is a Helen Lawson show, baby. Helen Lawson doesn't wear burlap sacks. Where are the sequins? Where are the bugle beads? Where's the SPARKLE?
Helen, this show isn't about glitz. I want it to be--
I don't care what YOU want it to be. This is my show--
Helen notices Anne outside the door, now holding the costume sketch.
Who in hell are you?
(Timidly entering room) I'm Anne Wells...and...
Look, I'm tired and I'm busy. What do you want?
I've got some contracts from Mr. Bellamy that he wants you to sign.
Helen holds out her hand. Anne hands her the contracts.
Give me a pen. And not one of those lousy ball-points!
Anne removes a quill pen and a bottle of ink from her purse.
Sit down! You're making me nervous.
Helen starts signing some of the contracts. We hear Neely SINGING.
That girl singing out there. She's very good, isn't she?
Helen, what of you think of the rewrite of Sky Woman?
The song goes. And the kid with it.
Oh Helen, Neely O'Hara can't hurt you!
You're damn right she can't. 'Cuz she isn't gonna get the chance!
And so on. Come on Uncle Walt, let's make this happen; before Ryan Murphy gets his hands on it.
I was just thinking about the music to this movie. I mean, most people talk about the cheesy songs by Andre and Dory Previn; but the scoring of the film and the musical arrangements are brilliant. Of course they are; because genius John Williams did them. And it was like he knew he was doing a trashy movie; so he made trashy music. But brilliant, trashy music and I think that is a huge part of the magic of this film and why people keep coming back to it. For example, this piece of music he did for "Jennifer's French Movie." It's slightly sleazy, ridiculously "French" and absolutely hilarious. But it's also an excellent piece of music that's pleasing to the ear. He would have to come back and revisit his score for the new version!