Black Broadway Diva Almost Came To Prime Time

Categories: TV

frame.jpg
At the other day's On Your Plate luncheon benefiting City Harvest, author Susan Fales-Hill (above) made a revelation.

A few years ago, she wrote a TV pilot about a black Broadway diva who'd fallen on hard times, with Whoopi Goldberg producing.

But Fales-Hill sat there as two drab network execs lectured on her on which traits a Broadway diva supposedly must have.

"This was like dying and going to the third circle of Dante's hell," Fales-Hill remarked.

As she noted, these two were of the type that "think going to the Beverly Hills mall is a cultural experience."

An extra absurdity is that no one knows from black Broadway divas more than Fales-Hill does.

Her mother happened to be the Tony nominated Josephine Premice!

The pilot never went forward thanks to the pissy execs, so Fales-Hill (who wrote for The Cosby Show, among many other things) went into writing fiction, quite successfully.

By the way, her father, who's still alive, is interesting too.

"I'm in pre-menopause and he married someone who just finished high school," she told the crowd, laughing, "but that's another story."

Perhaps a TV pilot?

Josephine-Premice_Sings-Calypso_LP_front.jpg

167660468,21167D03DED68F0F272.jpeg
Honorary chair David Patrick Columbia (New York Social Diary) with Fales-Hill. Photo: Getty Images for City Harvest

My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
latenitebump
latenitebump

don't know if i could agree with her ten commandments of chic.

if you wouldn't buy it full price, don't buy it on sale.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Josephine Premice was unique, a dangerous diva who blazed onto stages and burnt 'em down.

What a great Mom to have! I'm envious.

Mookindahouse
Mookindahouse

Josephine Premice was in the cast of 'Jamaica' in '57 w/ Lena Horne and Ricardo Montalban (a last minute replacement for Harry Belafonte). She stole the show from La Horne and Lena was furious. So when the two were teamed again in a '78 BWay bound revival of  'Pal Joey' (w/ Clifton Davis as Joey Evans), Lena had all of Josephine's scenes cut except those surrounding Miss Premice's solo of 'Zip', which Lena ordered the producers change to a duet.

Platha
Platha

That's sad to hear. Lena was supposedly badly treated by Ethel Waters, who was jealous of Lena's youth and beauty. But I guess Lena could be just as mean to costars. It's the old Helen Lawson/Ethel Merman approach: "She's too good! Cut her number!"

Allen Firth
Allen Firth

I thought it would be about Jennifer Holiday.  

She did one show 30 years ago (!), one spectacular bring-em-to-their-feet performance with a song that became HER signature song (it even made Billboard's Top 40, the last time a song from a Broadway cast album did that feat).  She tried to make it in the music industry; nothing really went anywhere; she lost some weight....

But, trooper that she is, she'd still come back to Broadway benefits (and even the Tony Awards) to perform that one song that brings her a well-earned standing ovation every time.  No one can sing that song like she can; it's totally hers and has been for 30 years.

Now that's a legend.  

Worst cut of all:  The movie version managed to sneak in a part for one of her Broadway co-stars, but nothing for her.

Mookindahouse
Mookindahouse

 "Worst cut of all:  The movie version managed to sneak in a part for one of her Broadway co-stars." not one, but two! along with Loretta Devine (who appeared in the scene where JHud sang "I Am Changing"), Hinton Battle (who played Jimmy Thunder Early on BWay) had a major supporting role.

Platha
Platha

She's amazing but was notoriously not easy to work with. She did manage to pop up again on Ally McBeal, though.

Isis
Isis

I'm suddenly wildly in love with her too.

Starzzz
Starzzz

I never heard of Josephine Premice but judging from that photo, the woman was legend!

Loading...