Beaches: 19 Changes Made in Lifetime's Small-screen Remake of the 1988 Classic Tearjerker
Lifetime's remake of the classic 1988 tearjerker Beaches aired Saturday and there were some things from the original film that were left on the cutting room floor
Lifetime’s remake of the classic 1988 tearjerker Beaches aired Saturday night — with Broadway star Idina Menzel and Big Momma’s House Nia Long stepping into the iconic roles of entertainer C.C. Bloom and her aristocratic BFF Hillary Whitney — made famous on screen by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.
The made-for-TV movie did an excellent job of capturing the ups and downs of a 30-year friendship, staying true to most of plot points in the Garry Marshall feature and Iris Rainer Dart’s original book. (Spoiler alert: that death is still there, and it’s just as devastating).
But there were some things that were left on the cutting room floor. Here are 19 of the biggest changes. Fair warning: Spoilers ahead!
1. Same flashbacks, different beginnings. Both stories begin before Hillary’s death, and flashback to their first meeting and ear
The 1988 film opens with C.C. at the Hollywood Bowl, rehearsing her Lite FM-cover of The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk.” She then gets a note about Hillary’s hospitalization — prompting her to run out of her gig and, when her flight is cancelled, drive to San Francisco to be with her friend. (Don’t worry, it was raining so the outdoor concert was likely cancelled anyway).
Lifetime’s version has no time for all that. Instead, they open with C.C. and an ailing Hillary on their beach deck, trying to complete a crossword puzzle while overlooking the ocean. “My memory is very, very long — like it or not,” C.C. tells Hillary as they debate whether Hillary forced C.C. to sing Christmas carols during their first holiday together. “I’m going to depend on you for that,” Hillary responds.
2. C.C. and Hillary meet in a totally different place. Yes, it’s still on the beach — but this time it’s Venice Beach, California, not Atlantic City, New Jersey. Hillary’s also not lost and looking for C.C. to give her directions back to her hotel. Instead, she just stumbles upon C.C. on the boardwalk singing “Glory of Love” to a crowd for money while dressed like a poor-man’s Punky Brewster. It gets the job done, but C.C.’s pink fringe leotard and grand entrance from under the stars is greatly missed.
3. C.C. doesn’t work at the Sammy Pinkers’ kiddy show. That means no Mr. Melman, no failed audition, and yes — no Iris Myandowski, the hand-walker.
4. She also doesn’t have an over-bearing stage mother. Leona (My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s Lainie Kazan) is one of the big screen film’s best characters — a Mama Rose type, only terrified of her daughter’s wrath. On the small screen? Leona runs a stand on the boardwalk that sells a random scattering of bad apparel and chotchkies.
5. Hillary is shipped off to boarding school on the east coast. The whole long-distance letter correspondence between the two friends made sense in the film since they lived on separate coasts. To solve that problem, Lifetime sent Hillary to Connecticut for boarding school. And college. And grad school. And basically as long as they cool (this being set in “modern times,” they kept in touch via email and text).
6. Save for “Wind Beneath My Wings,” the music’s not the same. At the jazz club where she first reunites with Hillary, Midler sings Cole Porter’s “I’ve Still Got My Health” while Menzel sings Peggy Lee’s “I Can Hear the Music.” C.C.’s breakthrough role in John’s original musical has two totally different (but equally strange) tunes. Later, Menzel sings her original tune “Last Time” (off her 2016 album Idina) and a cover of The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” — while Midler covers “Baby Mine” (from Dumbo) and Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today.”
7. John meets C.C. in two totally bonkers ways. He’s the director who gives C.C. her big break. But when we first meets the brash singer in the 1988 film, she’s working as a singing telegram girl — dressed like a bunny rabbit while singing him “Happy Birthday.” Their introduction doesn’t go much better in the Lifetime film. C.C.’s performing at a bar mitzvah, where John just happens to be a guest.
8. C.C. never goes blonde. Menzel’s brown hair is beautiful, but following in C.C.’s shoes and going blonde for a bit would have been fun to see.
9. But we do see more of Hillary’s dad and husband. The death of Hillary’s father and her marriage to her husband felt like a really serious thing to just skim by in the original movie. Lifetime gives Hillary a few more scenes to explore her relationship with these two men in her life — aided too by switching the order in which they happen (marriage first, then death). It also makes C.C.’s decision to skip both Hillary’s wedding and her father’s funeral that much more painful.
10. C.C. and John don’t get married. Perhaps they never needed to, but the scene was worth it just for C.C. slapping John at their wedding and telling him, “This is the happiest moment of my life. I don’t want you to ever forget it.”
11. She also makes very different career choices. One of the movie’s best numbers is C.C.’s cheeky song in her hit stage review, Sizzle 76. It’s called “Otto Titsling,” about the creator of the first bra. That song — and that show — don’t make it into the TV show. Instead, C.C. joins a cheesy sitcom about promiscuous nuns named Pretty Sinners. It’s funny, but it doesn’t have quite the hook as Otto’s story.
12. Arthur the dog doesn’t make the cut. That dog barked too much anyway. Plus, he died after being hit by a laundry truck. Beaches really couldn’t handle another death.
13. C.C.’s trip to visit Leona in Miami is also M.I.A. Leona gave C.C. some valuable advice about her marriage — but since C.C. and John were never married on the Lifetime version (and Leona was barely in the made-for-TV movie), a trip to the 305 wasn’t necessary.
14. Both C.C.’s get fired, but not for the same reasons. Menzel’s gets canned from Pretty Sinners because the director thinks her heart is not in it. Midler’s cut from her first movie because she doesn’t like her character… and may have broke the director’s jaw.
15. Dr. Milstein — and his entire relationship with C.C. — isn’t there. They were engaged in the ’88 flick, but he didn’t even exist in the 2017 film.
16. C.C. never wins her Tony. (Don’t worry — Menzel has one).
17. The two best friends also never play cards. It was one of the things they did together throughout their 30-year friendship in the first movie, but the remake exchanged cards for crossword puzzles.
18. It’s C.C. who finds Hillary after her fall. Here’s another change that seems to make way more sense. Rather than have the traumatic scene where Hillary’s daughter, Victoria, finds her passed out on the floor, Lifetime set the fall with C.C. nearby. It saves the trip to the hospital — and the trip back to the summer house — as Hillary decides then and there to live out her last days by the place where she and her best friend met: the beach.
19. Hillary’s funeral isn’t shown. However, they do show C.C. and Victoria spreading her ashes into the ocean, which is pretty devastating.