But his wife Tonya Lewis Lee had other ideas. She convinced him give the film a modernized twist via television, enabling him to delve deeper into the characters while maintaining its distinctive, vibrant style. Netflix will release the 10 episodes to subscribers on Thanksgiving. His wife was also an executive producer and several female writers contributed to the expanded story lines.
"She had the vision I didn't have," said Lee, a 1979 Morehouse College graduate who recently visited Spelman College to give advice to undergraduates and talk about the new Netflix series. (His mom and grandmother graduated Spelman.) "I did it already. She said, 'You should think about bringing this back and make it contemporary. We ran with it. I'm very grateful Netflix stepped up."
He said this is, in a way, a five-hour movie and given how people view shows on Netflix, that's not a far-off statement. And to ensure continuity, he directed all ten episodes. "That was not a discussion," said the famously hands-on Lee.
And as a filmmaker, he didn't change his approach for what is conceived as "TV" on Netflix. "We're making cinema," he said, "not a TV show."
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