The Women of Brewster Place (miniseries)

The Women of Brewster Place is an American television miniseries that was broadcast on March 19 and 20, 1989 on ABC. The miniseries is based upon the critically acclaimed 1982 novel of the same name by Gloria Naylor.[1] It was produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions with a teleplay by Karen Hall.[2][3] The show's theme song was performed by American R&B singer Vesta Williams, who performed both the opening and closing credits.[4]

The Women of Brewster Place
Written byGloria Naylor (novel)
Karen Hall (teleplay)
Directed byDonna Deitch
Spike Lee
StarringOprah Winfrey
Robin Givens
Paul Winfield
Lynn Whitfield
Mary Alice
Lonette McKee
Larenz Tate
Cicely Tyson
Moses Gunn
Shari Belafonte
Music byDavid Shire
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersCarole Isenberg
Oprah Winfrey
ProducersReuben Cannon
Patricia K. Meyer
Barbara Black (line producer)
Karen Hall (supervising producer)
Production locationsChicago, Illinois
CinematographyAlexander Gruszynski
EditorJerrold L. Ludwig
Running time200 minutes
Production companiesHarpo Productions
Phoenix Entertainment Group
Original release
ReleaseMarch 19 (1989-03-19) –
March 20, 1989 (1989-03-20)

The miniseries stars an ensemble cast of African-American actors and actresses such as Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Jackée Harry, Robin Givens, Lynn Whitfield, Paula Kelly, Lonette McKee, Paul Winfield, Mary Alice, Olivia Cole, Moses Gunn, William Allen Young, and a brief early appearance by a young Larenz Tate.

In 1990, it was adapted into a weekly series entitled Brewster Place.

Plot edit

Mattie Michael resides on a farm with her parents. After she becomes pregnant by local womanizer Butch Fuller, Mattie leaves home and stays with her friend Etta Mae Johnson until her son Basil is born. When Etta Mae moves to New York City, Mattie struggles to find another place to live. By chance, she meets an old woman, Miss Eva Turner, who allows Mattie and Basil to live with her, and her baby granddaughter Ciel. When Miss Eva dies unexpectedly, Ciel's parents reappear, and take her with them. Mattie buys the house, using the money she secretly set aside for the rent that Miss Eva never charged.

Basil grows into a spoiled, irresponsible young man due to Mattie's overbearing parenting. One night Basil is arrested and thrown in jail for killing a man during a bar fight. Mattie puts up her house as bail for Basil, but when he flees town, Mattie is forced to leave her home.

With nowhere else to go, she moves to Brewster Place, a run-down urban tenement, where she is welcomed by the now-adult Ciel and her infant daughter Serena. Mattie helps Ciel deal with her itinerant husband, Gene, who rejects the prospect of a second baby, resulting in Ciel's having an abortion.

Other residents of Brewster Place include Ben, the elderly handyman; Cora Lee, a welfare mother with six unruly children by different fathers; Miss Sophie, an elderly self-righteous gossip; and a young educated couple, Melanie "Kiswana" Browne and her boyfriend Abshu. Each of these characters have their own subplots which occasionally intersect with Mattie. Melanie and Abshu start a tenants' association to take action against the landlord for lack of building maintenance.

A lesbian couple, Lorraine and Theresa, move into Brewster Place and are victims of Miss Sophie's homophobia. Lorraine is raped by drug dealer C.C. Baker, who leaves her, bleeding and battered, behind the trash cans near the brick wall. Ben discovers Lorraine and attempts to help her. But Lorraine, traumatized from the attack, mistakes him for C.C. and attacks him with a board. She holds off all the other residents until the ambulance arrives. Both she and an unconscious Ben are driven away with Tee, who is alerted by a neighbor. Mattie, whose anger has finally overcome her apathy towards life, grabs a crowbar and starts to chip away at the much-despised brick wall. All the other residents grab tools and, finally coming together as a community, join together in knocking down the wall.

Cast edit

Ratings edit

Viewership and ratings per episode of The Women of Brewster Place
No. Title Air date Timeslot (ET) Rating/share
1 "Part 1" March 19, 1989 Sunday 9:00 p.m. 23.5/36 35.7 [5]
2 "Part 2" March 20, 1989 Monday 9:00 p.m. 24.5/38 37.4 [6]

Awards and nominations edit

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
1989 41st Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Paula Kelly Nominated [7]
Outstanding Miniseries Nominated [8]
1989 Casting Society of America Best Casting for TV Miniseries Eileen Mack Knight Nominated [9]
1990 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series Outstanding TV Mini-Series Won [10]
1991 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Drama Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie Won [11]

References edit

  1. ^ Boyd, Herb (October 4, 2016). "Acclaimed author Gloria Naylor dies at 66". New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  2. ^ Gaillot, Ann-Derrick (May 9, 2019). "'30 Years Ago, The Women of Brewster Place Cracked Open the Door for Queer TV". New York. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Terry, Clifford (March 17, 1989). "The Women of 'brewster Place' Fall Somewhere Between Solid and". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  4. ^ Cochrane, Naima (March 24, 2019). "Music Sermon: The Forgotten Voices of '80s R&B". Vibe. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  5. ^ "Glad tidings for all networks". USA Today. March 22, 1989. p. 3D. ProQuest 306198820.
  6. ^ "A Brewster boost for ABC". USA Today. March 29, 1989. p. 3D. ProQuest 306173300.
  7. ^ "41st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 1989. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  8. ^ "41st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners – Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 1989. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  9. ^ "1989 Artios Awards". The Casting Society of America. 1989. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  10. ^ "GLAAD Media Awards - Awards for 1990". IMDb.
  11. ^ "Image Awards (NAACP) - 1991 Awards". IMDb.

Further reading edit

External links edit