From Bad Date To Big Screen: "Tyler Perry Presents Peeples" - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Bad Date To Big Screen: "Tyler Perry Presents Peeples"

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 Bad Date 

We've all been there.   But Tina Gordon Chism turned hers into a big screen comedy. Her directorial debut "Tyler Perry Presents Peeples" opens May 10 in theaters. 

So what happened on that fateful night? 

"I had the "perfect" boyfriend.  I saw a picture of his "perfect" family – everybody's gorgeous and successful. How am I going to fit in with these people?  They look like the Chocolate Kennedys!" 

"I went home with him.  Turns out they had their quirks and problems like everybody else. But my boyfriend didn't want to know about it.  All these family secrets, nobody's talking about what's really going on. Everybody is in denial! 

Conditional love?  Not for Chism.  "In my family everybody talks about everything.  No secrets.   Whatever it is we hash it out."   

Chism broke up with the guy.  But she kept the idea. 

What if "Nobody's Good Enough!" meets "Nobody's Perfect!" -- and they fall in unconditional love? 

A screenplay!  

Sparks fly when Wade crashes the Peeples' family reunion in the Hamptons to ask the patriarch Virgil for his precious daughter Grace's hand in marriage. 

In a way "Peeples" brought Chism full circle. 

Date With Destiny 

When she was a freshman at the University of Virginia, Chism submitted her first screenplay to "The Cosby Show."  "It was naïve gumption."  She didn't know it was unheard of for a student with no agent or credits.  "I just did it." 

Chism got an internship!  The "delicious mix" of reality and comedy made a big impression. "I loved the way the Cosby family was portrayed, as strivers grounded in their culture, not just stereotypes, and never preachy, just funny." 

She went on to work as a journalist for the Atlanta Tribune.  An HBO contest led to screenplays for the successful movies "Drumline" and "ATL" in which "the personal is grounded in the pageantry."  Which brings us back to "Peeples." 

Lunch Date  

Chism met with producer Stephanie Allain.  "She had backed first time directors" – from John Singleton on "Boyz in the Hood" to Craig Brewer on "Hustle & Flow"  - but Chism was surprised she was Allain's first choice to direct "Peeples." 

Allain was confident. "Tina created a world that was already full-blown.  She had a vision of how it should be." 

Speed Date 

Allain "set up shop in a tea room in a hotel in New York" and "literally in two days" she and Chism "met with actors and they were all on board." 

They responded to the elements that attracted Allain.  "It's a story about coming clean with people you love and being accepted for who you really are - with no stereotypes and a lot of fun."  

In "Peeples" the "perfect" daughter Grace Peeples worries that her plain spoken about-to-be fiancée Wade [Craig Robinson] a kids' party entertainer, won't pass muster with the "perfect" Peeples family starting with patriarch Virgil Peeples [David Alan Grier], a formidable judge. 

In other words, not a "hood" movie but a slice of equally real African-American life.  Now Chism was taking the experience she had as a young intern on "The Cosby Show" and making it her own.   "I just feel like people need to get used to seeing us in all aspects of life." 

Start Date 

Allain took the project to Lionsgate where Tyler Perry has 34th Street Films.  "Tyler and Tina knew each other and he was a fan of her work." 

Chism calls Tyler Perry "the ultimate godfather."   And on, Perry writes.  "…I feel that there is much more room in this business and this is my first attempt at opening this door for another writer-director. I'm excited about the possibility and I'm excited about her… a young African-American woman getting her first shot… I'm very proud of this movie and I'm very proud of Tina. 

Soon Chism and Allain and company were off and running to Greenwich, CT to make the "Peeples" movie. The fictional Peeples family became an impromptu family on the set where there was so much camaraderie, singing and dancing around the piano "that we had to put a lock on the keyboard" – but the cast "just kept going a cappella." 

That leaves one more important date. 

Blind Date 

Also known as the Release Date, May 10, just in time for Mother's Day Weekend, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples" opens in theaters. 

So why does Chism call it "the ultimate blind date?" 

"It's nerve-wracking! You want them to show up!  You want them to like what they see!"  Allain is confident as ever.  "It's funny and quirky with meaning.  People connect with the characters and we're getting a great response to the music. Hopefully, we'll open some hearts."

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