Brandy and Whitney Houston in the 1997 TV movie Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella

25th Anniversary Special of Brandy & Whitney’s ‘Cinderella’ is Coming This Month!

My absolute favorite verison of Cinderella and quite possibility live-action musical ever remains the 1997 edition starring Brandy Norwood (who I recently stopped calling Moesha) as Cinderella, and pop-icon Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother. This stellar cast also included Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, Veanne Cox, Natalie Desselle-Reid, and introduced the world to Paolo Montalban (as Prince Charming, a.k.a. Christopher). Now, 25 years later, ABC’s 20/20 is hosting a special anniversary event for this Rodgers & Hammerstein adaptation later this month!

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The TV movie event originally aired on ABC on November 2, 1997 to an estimated 60 million people. While the movie was at first planned to be a part of CBS programming, the film ultimately found a home at Disney and became part of Michael Eisner’s (head of Disney at the time) move to reintroduce The Wonderful World of Disney. It also set a bar perfectly in reach, but even two decades later, Hollywood still struggles with colorblind (let alone color-conscious) casting.

Who will be present?

From the teaser and reporting, it seems like this will be individual sit-downs with the cast. However, I really would love to see them all together and in groups talking, too. Because this is 20/20, they have the range to also reflect on why this movie still feels like an anomaly and special even today, beyond its historical relevance and just beautiful artistic merits.

Due to their passing, Houston and Desselle-Reid (Cinderella’s stepsister Minerva) will not appear in the interview format. While their voices will be missed, and I’m sure there will be past clips, the teaser shows that outside people like Billy Porter (who recently played Fabolous Godmother in the 2021 Amazon version) will be present. I would also love to see Keke Palmer (who played Broadway’s first Black Cinderella) and others young and old be included that were either a part of the original production, documented it, or were impacted by it. Including voices behind the scenes interviewed by Shondaland for the 20th anniversary, An Oral History of 1997’s Cinderella.

This celebration comes out 8 pm ET/PT on August 23rd and on Hulu the next day. Afterward, the network will be reairing the original tv movie. If you can’t wait until then, you can always watch the best live-action Cinderella retelling on Disney+.

(via Entertainment Weekly, featured image: ABC)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.