I'm certain most of you are fully aware of my love for Wendell B Harris Jr's 1989 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning opus, Chameleon Street, so I won't even bother with an introduction!
Check out part 1 of an interview Black Box Office had with writer/director/actor Harris, earlier this year, at January's Sundance Film Festival, where Chameleon Street screened in the the festival's "From the Collection series" - an annual feature in which two retrospective screenings of influential feature-length films from the Sundance Collection are presented, paying tribute to what they deem significant works. Steven Soderbergh's debut, Sex, Lies & Videotape rounded out this year's pairing.
Here's a snippet of the interview:
Take us back to 1990. You’ve just won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, everybody’s talking about your movie…what happens next?
WBH: There’s a little money when you win that prize…5 thousand dollars . I don’t know … maybe it’s more now . But you know, the real prize is that Hollywood opens their doors to you. You get meetings with everyone at every major studio. And I had many meetings about my movie and lots of other projects . Many meetings , many dreams .
Did anyone buy your movie?
Not the movie, but the remake rights.
Yes, Warner Brothers paid something like $250,000 for the rights to remake “Chameleon Street”. The next thing I knew, there were meetings with all these Black actors. Wesley Snipes. Arsenio Hall. Will Smith. Sinbad.
SINBAD? in “Chameleon Street”?
Yes. You see, the studio wanted to remake the story into different movies that were hot at the time. For Wesley Snipes, it was going to be a “car chase” movie. For Will Smith and Arsenio, comedy. And for Sinbad…what’s that movie he did with Schwarzenegger?
“Jingle All The Way”.
Yes. That’s the one. They wanted it to be like that. A comedy with a warm ending. And action. All the treatments had to have more action.
Read the rest of his juicy revelations HERE.