Nobody puts Baby in a corner, but they will recast her in a TV movie. At long last, ABC's new version of Dirty Dancing is coming and will totally have the time of its life. But although the May 24 broadcast boasts a cast that includes Abigail Breslin, Colt Prattes, Debra Messing, Bruce Greenwood, and Sarah Hyland, it it feels like someone is missing: Jennifer Grey, who originated the role of Baby in the 1987 movie alongside the late, great Patrick Swayze. So why isn’t Jennifer Grey in this Dirty Dancing?
On the plus side, it’s certainly not because ABC didn’t want her to be a part of the TV movie — the network even offered her a part. (Although it certainly wasn’t Baby this time around.) But as Grey told The Hollywood Reporter at the Television Critics Association in August, she turned down the role because she wanted this new Dirty Dancing to stand on its own.
"I was asked to do something on that show, and I was flattered because I always want to be asked because it's nice to want to be included,” she explained to THR, ultimately explaining that she didn’t feel it would be "appropriate" for her. "It feels like if you're going to do your own thing, do your own thing!" she added.
It's ironic that the original has become such a cult hit, considering that it almost didn't get made. Speaking to Bustle for the film's 30th anniversary earlier this year, screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein said that all this newfound love and attention for Dirty Dancing is encouraging to see. "We didn't expect any of this at all," she said. "We had no encouragement. Everyone told us it was terrible while we were making it. And even when it first came out, everyone told us it was terrible. But we eventually got these wonderful, wonderful audiences that we've had now for 30 years."
But that doesn't mean someone else can't try something different with the story, and as Grey also told THR in that same interview, she is very excited to see what the new creative team does with Dirty Dancing. After all, their track record is impressive; in addition to a new script by Emmy-nominated American Horror Story writer Jessica Sharzer, direction by The Sapphires' Wayne Blair, and music and lyrics by Glee’s Adam Anders and Peer Astrom, the movie is also being choreographed by Hamilton alumnus Andy Blankenbuehler.
“I'm obsessed with Hamilton, so that's thrilling to me,” Grey said. “I think they've got wonderful actors in it. I'm going to be watching it and I'm excited."
Guess she'll find out just how good it ends up being when Dirty Dancing premieres on May 24. Until then, at least there's always the original movie to fall back on.