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Flowers in the Attic remake alert! More than two decades after V.C. Andrews' dark and twisted novel saw a feature adaptation, Lifetime is bringing the story to the small screen. Directed by Deborah Chow, based on a script by Kayla Alpert, the TV movie will star Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn as mother and grandmother to the four children sentenced to spend years locked away in a secret room and attic of a huge mansion, waiting for their grandfather to die.
High on the list of books I was probably too young to read when I did is Andrews' Flowers in the Attic, a novel that tells the story of four siblings - Chris, Cathy and twins Cory and Carrie - who are hidden away in a bedroom and attic of a huge mansion after their father dies in a car accident, leaving their widowed mother destitute and desperate enough to crawl back to her unforgiving, dying father to beg for her inheritance, which she lost when she ran off to get married years ago. While Corrine attempts to regain her father's favor and keep her children a secret from him, The Grandmother mercilessly abuses the kids, who attempt to live by her strict rules, often failing and being punished as a result. Their only escape is the big attic upstairs, which serves as their playground as Chris and Cathy become surrogate parents to the twins, and develop some incesty feelings for one another as they attempt to navigate through the start of their adolescence.
A feature adaptation of the first novel was done in 1987, with Kristy Swanson starring as Cathy. Watered down, altered and far too condensed to live up to its source material, the movie didn't work. Can Lifetime do it better? Well, given some of the darker and more risqué themes on cable TV today, it certainly wouldn't be impossible for a TV movie to take on the source material more directly if they wanted to. Deadline says Heather Graham will play the role of Corrine and Ellen Burstyn will take on the role of the cruel grandmother. Burstyn seems like a pretty great bit of casting for the Grandmother, while Graham's involvement almost feels like a throwback to the 80s, as she could've been a candidate for Cathy when the original film came out. But given what we know about Corrine from the book, I'll be interested to see how Graham takes on the role.
I picture Corrine as graceful and beautiful, which isn't a stretch for Graham, but the character is also sort of weak. It's no spoiler to point out that she locks her kids in an attic and lets her mean mother abuse them while she grovels at her father's feet. The kids adore their mother - at least, at first - but when push comes to shove (tar, beatings and worse punishments...), she's not there for them the way she should be.
Right now, it sounds like Lifetime has greenlit the project as a TV movie, but who knows? If the movie does well, perhaps the cable network will consider creating a TV series out of the story, much in the way they did with The Client List, which began as a movie and was later readapted for a serialized drama. There's certainly enough story in Andrews' first novel to do it. And even if they wanted to take the story beyond the Attic, Andrews has three sequels and a prequel that could be adapted.
No timetable was mentioned as far as production or debut timeframe, but they've already got two big names signed on for the project. Now it's just a matter of casting the kids.