Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “B.A.P.S”

October 29, 2012  |  
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You just might be asking yourself, why, oh why are you exploring the secrets behind B.A.P.S?! I know. The movie is far from a classic but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining. Despite the fact that you can probably find this flick in the 2 for $5 bin at Walmart, I still get quite a kick out of it. Which is why I’m bringing you these secrets today. An even better question is why did you click on the post? Aha! Gotcha! You love it too. Now that you’re here, you might as well learn something. Let’s begin.


The background

Though Halle had been in the industry for years, landing groundbreaking roles in Jungle Fever, Boomerang and Losing Isaiah, this was the first time Halle was playing the lead character. The film, directed by Hollywood vet, Robert Townsend, cost $10 million to make but unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype. It only made $7 million at the box office and was almost universally shunned by critics. Roger Ebert gave the film zero stars, which was rare for him, and called it “jaw-droppingly bad.” Dang. But more on Mr. Ebert later.



The Writer

Troy Beyer, who had been acting since the age of four, (She said her role on “Sesame Street” often helped her mom pay rent.) had had moderate success as an actress. After “Sesame Street” Beyer played Diahann Carroll’s daughter on the hit television show “Dynasty.” She would continue television before working in movies like Robert Townsend’s Five Heartbeats. But Beyer wasn’t happy with her career, she wasn’t getting the roles she wanted. She told The Baltimore Sun:

“I could make a gazillion excuses why I wasn’t succeeding,” she says. “The bottom line is, if you have the chops, you get the parts. The seeds of failure were my seeds of success. I saw that writing, producing and directing was the most valuable thing for me.”

Which is how she came to write the screenplay for B.A.P.S. But like so many of the critics, Beyer wasn’t happy with the film either.

Source: barnes and noble

What did Beyer think about the film?

Let’s just say it’s not a film she would consider to be her best work. It actually took me quite some time to find anything where she would even speak about it. In an interview with, discussing her next film, Let’s Talk About Sex, Beyer explained how disappointed she was with the way B.A.P.S turned out.

I had written a film called B.A.P.S. When I saw the final cut, I was so devastated because I really believed that my words had not honestly made it onto the screen. The director was a writer/director himself and it was the first time he had directed someone else’s writing. He took the liberty of changing stuff as he shot the film. At the end of the day, when I saw the film, I hated it. I was really embarrassed and it was too late for me to take my name off the picture. Then I got killed by the critics. Me! The writer! I just thought I’m gonna take the money from this awful experience and put it into my own film. I’m gonna direct it and make sure my words make it to the screen. If the critics try to kill me now, there’s nothing they can say that’s gonna hurt me because I know that I did my very best. Those are my words on screen and I stand by them. So I took the money from B.A.P.S to make my movie.

Well, that’s pretty clear. Her independent film, Let’s Talk About Sex, wasn’t the last time we heard from Beyer. She would later write the script for the teen movie Love Don’t Cost A Thing. 


Was Halle hesitant?

Yup! She told Jet that she was initially hesitant because she wasn’t fond of  Townsend’s vision for the character but eventually decided to do it because she respected his clean brand of comedy.

“I’m always mindful of the images that I put out there. I knew I would be safe in his hands. I trusted he would not steer us in the wrong direction.”


Plus, she could relate…A lot actually

This role was so different from everything people thought Halle Berry was; so when the media got a chance to speak to her, they wanted to know if she was anything like this character. Here’s what Halle told Jet

“There’s some homegirl in me, so I didn’t have to do that much preparing.The hardest thing for me was getting used to comedy and leaving my inhibitions at home. I’m used to being more in control in the movies that I do.”

(On whether she could relate to the character.)

“Oh yeah. When I left Cleveland, I was 18 years old. I had big dreams and no money. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to model. I wanted to act. I wanted to go to Hollywood. So I know exactly where she was.”


Roger was not a fan

I told you that Roger had no stars to give when it came to this film and said it was jaw-droppingly bad. Well, those are some of the nicer comments compared to his full length review of the movie.  Not only did he say the movie wasn’t funny, he further dismissed the failed humor by saying:

“There is a thin line between satire and offensiveness, and this crosses it.”

Though he did say that Martin Landau’s performance was decent, the only one in the movie, he said that it was almost as if he were acting for another role. Ebert said the emotions Landau was trying to evoke were not suited for this film. Yikes. But that’s not the worst of it. He concluded his review with this sentiment.

“My guess is that African Americans will be offended by the movie, and whites will be embarrassed. The movie will bring us all together, I imagine, in paralyzing boredom.”

Ok, I can see why some blacks might be offended–even though I wasn’t– but what I don’t understand is why whites would find themselves embarrassed, that is if they had any interest in seeing the film at all. Hmm. Beats me.


How BAPS Helped

Maybe I’m the only one late to the party, but I did not know that after her divorce from David Justice Halle Berry tried to take her own life. Well, she did. Some of you might remember her describing that story on Oprah. But before she went into those details she described how being on the set of B.A.P.S, acting crazy and laughing, actually served as a type of therapy for her.

“I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I didn’t find anything funny at that time and it was really hard for me to laugh. And I thought how can I go and make fun of myself when my life seems so serious right now. Robert Townsend was the one that said this is the perfect time to do it because if you don’t you’re going to lose yourself and you’re just going to sit home and you’re going to be sad and you can’t do that to yourself. You have too much to give and too much to offer. You need to do this for you. After two weeks, it was the best medicine because I had to laugh and smile and just be a fool. And Robert was always there with smiles and laughs and a lot of  hugs all the time. It was the best medicine for probably the worst time of the ordeal that I’ve been going through.”

If no one else likes this movie, we can say that it helped to keep Halle going and that’s pretty powerful.

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