RSVIP: Janet Jackson at Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" Premiere
"For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" is a play, built from 20 poems, that first opened at a woman's bar in Berkeley, California, and won a Tony Award on Broadway in 1976. While director Tyler Perry has frequently worked with all-star, mainly female African-American casts, he has never attempted such challenging material--long, poetic speeches punctuated at times by eye-shielding violence.
Perry, right, wearing a distinct three-piece suit with broad pin stripes, said he didn't originally jump at the project. "I got a phone call about five years ago, he mentioned at the Ziegfeld in New York on Monday. "Somebody said, 'What about "Colored Girls"?'
"Whoopi Goldberg, who is in the cast, called him "a couple of years after that . . . somebody else called, somebody else called. . . . and I don't need a brick to fall on me," he indicated.
"I saw the original Broadway production," Phylicia Rashad, who plays a central character, told RSVIP. "It was disturbing. I'd never seen anything quite so raw."
And does Rashad, who was wearing a sparkling tunic, and bejeweled shoes by Beverly Feldman, think that Perry did a good job translating the landmark work to the big screen? Yes . . . and the poetry hasn't been sacrificed. He opens things up, so you can see as you listen and hear."
Macy Gray, who plays a role in one of the more disturbing scenes in the film, also performs one of the songs on the all-star soundtrack. "Tyler liked my song "Stand Up," which summarizes the film. 'No matter what happens, get back up on your feet and live and survive.'"
"I've already seen the film. And I thought it was fascinating . . . very heavy," said Gray who accented her eyebrows with small crystals. "But it's definitely a movie you should see. It's well-crafted, well-acted, and important."
"Janet makes me schvitz," offered fellow cast-member Kerry Washington, patting her face with a white handkerchief as she stood next to Janet Jackson.
"I almost fainted," said the rap star Fabolous, wearing a large gray sweater by Ralph Lauren, when RSVIP mentioned that Janet Jackson was standing to his left.
Janet Jackson once came and watched one of my shows," mentioned Estelle, a Brit pop star, also on the film's soundtrack. "And she gave me the biggest hug afterward. I was like, 'Oh, my God. I'm sweaty.' But she was really cool . . . I love her."
Estelle, who was wearing a partially deconstructed wood grain print top, threads undone at the hem, by Alexander McQueen and leather pants by Preen, said that Perry added her song "Blue Skies" to the soundtrack. "It's about going for your life and going for your love," she said.
Janet Jackson, right, her hair cropped short and slicked flat, said that she was wearing Hader Ackerman, an up and coming designer from Antwerp. A sheer skirt draped over her black pants and the top involved a complicated collar. "He's a fairly young designer who has become a very good friend of mine. He's incredibly talented," said Jackson. "We just spent some time together."
Jackson plays a married business executive with a sleek lifestyle that unravels. "It was completely different from anything else I've done," she said. "Very challenging, but that's what drew me to the character."
Meanwhile, Niecy Nash from "Dancing with the Stars," wearing vintage Calvin Klein, had on a sizable engagement ring that she received on September 4. "Somebody in this movie is getting nominated for an Oscar," exclaimed Nash. "Thandie Newton gave a riveting performance, as did Kimberly Elise. I loved them all. It meant a lot to me, because I can identify with so many of the women."
Meanwhile Newton, left, who plays a firecracker in the script, zipped past RSVIP in a charcoal silk Calvin Klein gown with the sides open from Francisco Costa's Spring 2011 collection. She had picked the dress herself online and was fitted over the weekend by the staff at Calvin Klein, according to a rep.
Kerry Washington, far left, who was running stiff competition with Newton for best-dressed on the carpet, had on a patchwork pattern dress from Missoni with sequined stripes and a gold clutch by Armani. "Roberta Armani and Margherita Missoni are my 'Girls,'" said Washington. "They're with me."
And while Washington's role in the film had her working with many cast members, playing opposite Whoopi Goldberg held strong meaning for her. "My parents had her one-woman show on Broadway on VHS, and watching that as a young person changed my idea of what acting is," she said.
A smiling Ciara was celebrating her birthday. Besides catching the historic play onscreen, and mingling with the stars, how was she celebrating? "I had lunch with my friend Kim [Kardashian]," she said, indicating that they had eaten at the restored 1845 lunch counter at Tribeca's Cosmopolitan Café. They discussed music and went for the blueberry pancakes, crispy turkey bacon and crepes. And after taking in the powerful Tyler Perry project she mentioned that she planned to celebrate her birthday on the road, "I'll be partying in Vegas and Miami later in the week."
Janet Jackson, however, will not party when she finally has down time. "I'll escape to an island," she told RSVIP. "And just read and relax."