Willow Smith, the "Whip My Hair" tween hitmaker daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, has withdrawn from the forthcoming feature film remake of ANNIE. Charles Strouse, Thomas Meehan and Martin Charnin's Tony Award-winning stage musical ANNIE has previously been filmed twice, the first time in 1982 with John Huston in the director's chair and later in a made-for-TV adaptation produced by Disney and helmed by CHICAGO director Rob Marshall in 1999.
Smith spoke at Temple University this weekend as a part of REAL TALK WITH SISTER SOULJAH AND Will Smith and stated: "Willow was supposed to be doing 'Annie,' we got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with 'Whip my Hair' and she said, 'You know Daddy, I don't think so' and I said, 'Baby, hold up! I said no, no, no, listen, you'll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyoncé will be there. You will be singing and dancing,' and she looked at me and said, 'Daddy, I have a better idea, how about I just be 12.'"
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ANNIE is currently playing on Broadway in a James Lapine-directed revival starring Lilla Crawford, Katie Finneran and Anthony Warlow.
Reports have recently surfaced that Jay-Z will be co-producing the film remake with Smith and potentially act in a music production capacity, as well. Of course, Jay-Z found much success in 1999 with sampling the ANNIE staple "It's The Hard-Knock Life" in "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)", reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Oscar-winner Emma Thompson has contributed a new screenplay and the film is moving ahead, Willow-less, according to appointed director Will Gluck.
Pat Cerasaro is a playwright and screenwriter currently in pre-production on his first feature film.|