“Flowers in the Attic” won’t premiere on Lifetime until January 18, but Lifetime is already excited enough about the property to begin moving forward on a sequel.
At Thursday (January 9) afternoon’s Television Critics Association press tour panel for “Flowers,” scribe Kayla Alpert said that she’s already working on a script for “Petals in the Wind,” based on V.C. Andrews’ “Flowers” sequel. As with the book, “Petals” will jump the story forward 10 years. For people who never hid “Flowers in the Attic” under their mattresses, haven’t seen the movie and are really excited about experiencing the Lifetime movie fresh, Alpert avoids spoilers noting, “I will just say that it is a very juicy, compelling revenge drama.”
On the panel, which featured stars Heather Graham, Kiernan Shipka and Mason Dye, great pains were taken to emphasize that unlike Jeffrey Bloom’s generally reviled 1987 theatric film, the Lifetime “Flowers in the Attic” remains true to Andrews’ bestseller.
“It’s identical. It follows the book verbatim,” Dye says.
“I was a huge fan of the book as a teenager, as a tweenager. That’s part of how I got the job,” Alpert says. “We did not shy away from some of the taboo subjects, as people will see.”
Like many of us, Alpert hid the book from her elders when she first experienced it.
“My mom last week said, ‘I never even heard of the book,’ [and I said] ‘Well it worked,'” she laughs.
Several members of the new “Flowers” team tried to watch the Bloom film, but weren’t impressed.
“It’s a little more cheesy-funny,” Graham says, by way of contrast.
“Of course we stay more true to the book,” Dye repeats. “But I thought it did help just in terms of getting ready for this.”
Alpert says, “They steered pretty clear of some of the original material and it just wasn’t that interesting to me.”
And Lifetime’s “Flowers” does not steer clear.
“It was fun going back and remembering some of those crazy-ass scenes that I sort of repressed,” Alpert says.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that “Flowers in the Attic” is smut. Or if it’s smut, it’s Lifetime-friendly smut, which is probably what readers of the book are craving.
“It’s actually more fun being less explicit,” Alpert claims. “We had to get a little creative and like in the novel, the teasing out of some of the violence and sexuality.”
Not to spoil anything for those confused viewers who like the idea of a movie called “Flowers in the Attic” and don’t want to know anything about it, but the telefilm still has the same generally icky material involving its young stars, but that wasn’t a problem.
“The actors were up for all of it and it was handled really sensitively, I hope,” Alpert says.
Shipka, a very poised 14, has experienced dark things on screen before. On “Mad Men,” her character has been progressing into young womanhood while also periodically stumbling upon graphic sex acts.
“I get the script and I sort of take it in. I like dramatic material. I think that playing complicated is much more fun,” Shipka says.
Don’t worry about Shipka, though. She’s just a normal gal who golfs in real life.
Shipka promises, “There’s a solid separation between my life and my characters’ lives, so luckily it’s never seeped into my everyday life.”
While much was made of Alpert’s commitment to Andrews’ book, that’s not entirely true.
“I did quite a few things that we felt were in the spirit of making it more dramatic, but in the spirit of the book that weren’t in the book,” Alpert admits.
“[N]ot every scene felt necessarily that dramatic, so I had to create some plot points and also I wanted to delve into the psychology,” Alpert says.
Specifically, more beats were added to the relationship between Heather Graham’s Corrine and her vicious mother, played by Ellen Burstyn.
“I really tried to flesh that out and add more of the backstory, so you’d have more color to those characters.”
OK. “Flowers in the Attic” premieres on January 18. And here’s one last promise from Alpert.
“I feel like we really went for it. We didn’t pull any punches.”