October 20, 2020
Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Robert Townsend has been delivering classics since he wrote, directed, and produced the 1987 satire Hollywood Shuffle. Although the multitalented 63-year-old shared in a recent Q&A on Shadow Act’s Facebook Live that he doesn’t try to repeat himself, he revealed that he would make a reboot of one of his many classics.
“I’ve got so many ideas in my head, I’m just trying to get all these ideas out,” Townsend said. However, he would revisit “The Five Heartbeats because of the fans.”
The 1991 musical drama was directed, co-written, and featured the NAACP Image Award winner. The film followed the highs and lows of the fictional rhythm and blues vocal group which was loosely based on the lives of artists such as The Temptations, James Brown, and Sam Cooke.
“When The Temptations broke up it affected me,” he explained. “When you’re a kid and you are living in a rough neighborhood and money is tight and you don’t have a lot of hope — you know that that music from Motown coming across those little transistor radios you know just made us feel good. It just uplifted us as a people.”
The Chicago native went on to share that after the success of Hollywood Shuffle, he was repeatedly asked what was next. Townsend told Keenan Ivory Wayans that they should do a “story about a group like The Temptations and why they broke up. And did they really have love in their real lives or was it all just fake?”
Even though they both thought the script was brilliant, they had to fight for their vision to come true. He held open calls in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles because “I know a lot of really talented people of color don’t have agents or managers and I’m always hungry to find new talent and real talent. And when I see it I know.”
Tell us: Would you be here for a reboot of The Five Heartbeats or choose a different film from his catalog?