Whoopi Goldberg's Absence From 'Color Purple' Premieres Explained Amid Oprah Winfrey Feud Rumors
Cover Images/Roger Wong

While the 'View' moderator makes a surprise cameo in the new adaptation of Alice Walker's novel, she has not attended the film's promotional events because she's 'just here to pass the baton.'

AceShowbiz - Fans may not need to read between the lines regarding Whoopi Goldberg's non-presence at "The Color Purple" premieres. The comedian, who had a role in the original film by Steven Spielberg, has not attended promotional events for the new movie, which is now explained by director Blitz Bazawule.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times regarding Whoopi's surprise cameo in the movie, Blitz says he understands why the actress refused to attend the premieres. "We had talked about it in her trailer a little bit, and she said, 'I'm just here to pass the baton,' " says Blitz of Whoopi.

"I really appreciated that, because not everybody is as benevolent when it comes to knowing that 'The Color Purple' is really the star here," he adds. "It was incredibly special to know that we had her blessing to move forward with this version."

Recalling the filming of Whoopi's cameo, the helmer shares, "We had to stop and laugh because of everything she did, and you forget that she comes from stand up [comedy]." He then appreciates the 68-year-old's sweet gesture to the movie's star Phylicia Pearl Mpasi. "But more than anything, I just remember how caring and loving she was to Phylicia," he gushes. "It was symbolic not only because of what Whoopi represents in the canon of 'The Color Purple', but what Whoopi represents, period - the juggernaut that she is, and the doors she kicked open."

Whoopi was cast as a midwife who helps Phylicia's young Celie deliver a baby at the beginning of the film. Screenwriter Marcus Gardley says that he thought Whoopi playing Celie's mother "felt too on the nose," so he created the role of a local midwife.

"Symbolically, that felt like the perfect part, because she's the one to not only encourage her during the birth, but it's like she herself gave birth to the role and now we see her passing it down," he explains. "It's one of the most beautiful scenes because you see [Whoopi] looking upon [Phylicia] with pride and telling her, 'You can do it.' "

Gardley also reveals that Whoopi's presence in the movie is in a way to honor Steven's film. "We struggled with figuring out where it could happen and what character she would be, because the Spielberg film looms so large in our culture," he shares. "And these actresses grew up watching these iconic roles that inspired them to become actresses themselves."

Whoopi's cameo was kept under tight wraps and nobody dropped a hint even during the cast's appearance on "The View". In the December 13 episode, Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson and Danielle Brooks visited the show with Blitz, but Oprah Winfrey, who starred alongside Whoopi in the 1985 film and serves as producer for the new take, did not take part in the filming, fueling speculation there's a beef between the two former co-stars.

" 'The View' is pissed that Oprah avoided 'The View'," a so-called ABC insider revealed to Page Six earlier this month. According to a source, the episode was "taped on Nov. 27 when [Oprah] wasn't available."

A spokesperson for Oprah's Harpo production company also noted that Oprah made up her absence by recording the show's "Favorite Things" segment. The rep said, "As one of the producers, there have been appearances Ms. Winfrey did not participate in with the cast, and was unable to be in New York when this segment was filmed right after Thanksgiving. She is overjoyed to see the cast have their moment."

Meanwhile, Media Take Out previously reported Oprah informed Fantasia that Whoopi did not want to be bothered when the "American Idol" alum would like to reach out to the "Sister Act" star while filming the movie. Whoopi reportedly felt slighted because she was very open to helping in any way she could and she wondered why Fantasia never reached out.

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