Will Smith is Developing ANNIE Remake for Daughter Willow Smith; Jay-Z Might Collaborate on the Music

     January 19, 2011


Will Smith developed a remake of The Karate Kid for son Jaden, and it was the surprise hit of the summer with a sequel on the way.  But the Fresh Prince is not one to play favorites with his offspring.  Let’s see, what 1980s film would be perfect for a gift to daughter Willow Smith?  Oh, of course: Annie.  The property originated in 1924 as Little Orphan Annie, a comic strip about a parentlessly plucky young redhead.  And the Broadway musical opened in 1977.  But the film based on the musical premiered in 1982, so it counts.

The idea of “The Smiths Present Annie” is plenty entertaining on its own.  But gee whiskers, it gets better: Jay-Z is in talks to collaborate on the music.  Details after the jump:

There is context to Jay-Z’s involvement, of course.  Willow Smith reached #11 on the Billboard Top 100 with “Whip My Hair” earlier this year.  Jay-Z was apparently a fan and signed her to his label Roc Nation.  Plus, the rapper has a history with Annie: he sampled one of the musical’s signature songs for “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”annie-poster

According to Variety‘s report, the project is in the very early stages of development at Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.  It is not clear if there will be any original songs, or if this is a contemporary version of Annie.

If you ask me, they should absolutely keep it set during the 1920s to lend sinister racist undertones to the entire race-switching premise.

Here’s the synopsis for the 1982 film:

During the Great Depression in New York City, a plucky red-haired scrapper named Annie (Aileen Quinn) is the voice of hope for her fellow orphans who live under the supervision of drunken floozy Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Annie’s spirit is fueled by the belief that her real parents dropped her off at the orphanage with a half of a locket, promising to return for her with the other half. One day, the dingy orphanage is visited by the sophisticated Grace Farrell (Ann Reinking), personal secretary to conservative politician Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). In order to improve his image, Grace brings Annie to the Warbucks estate for a weeklong visit. Annie quickly wins the hearts of servants and politicians alike, eventually even bringing her song of hope, “Tomorrow,” to President Roosevelt in Washington. Warbucks and Grace even go so far as to perform a public search for Annie’s parents, creating an opportunity for Miss Hannigan, Rooster (Tim Curry), and Lily (Bernadette Peters) to scam their way to the reward money. [Fandango]

For comparison, here’s the film’s version of “It’s the Hard Knock Life” followed by Jay-Z’s ghetto anthem.

Umm, you may actually be crazy for this one, Jay.

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