Diddy Brings 'Raisin' to the Small Screen

Sean "Diddy" Combs conquered the music scene, in part by claiming to invent the remix; tackled television with his "Making the Band" series; and has had acclaimed roles in movies like "Monster's Ball."

And now the entertainment chameleon's popular 2004 Broadway run as Walter Lee Younger in "A Raisin in the Sun" has netted him a television adaptation of the play.

"We felt it was important to expose it to a new audience. Lorraine Hansberry [the play's author] is our African-American Shakespeare," said Combs on "Good Morning America" today.

"It all just gelled. It was like Broadway was the setup. It was the perfect dress rehearsal for the movie."

Combs acted as executive producer for the first time with this project.

Much of the 2004 cast returned to star in the television movie, which airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, but he particularly was inspired by Phylicia Rashad.

"She's so much more than Clair Huxtable," he said, referring her role on the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show." "You will be clear how great of an actress she is."

Rashad, whom Combs called "the captain" of the team, became the first African-American actress to win a Tony Award for best actress in 2004 for her performance as family matriarch Lena Younger.

She said she had "a blast" shooting the movie, which Combs said was done in a lightning-fast 24 days.

Rashad said she hopes viewers go beyond what they perceive as the traditional themes related with the play.

"It was easy to mistake it for a civil rights play, but that's not what she wrote," Rashad said. "But today we can hear the love stories. Today, we can hear that this really is a play about integrity, you know, about personal integrity; maintaining that; claiming that; owning it. This is a play with so many themes that run through it and it is a truly human story that translates to everybody who is human."

"A Raisin in the Sun" debuted on Broadway in 1959 and was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on the Great White Way.

The original cast featured Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Combs said many people questioned him about filling in such big shoes, but he said Poitier and other cast members gave him their blessing.

"I think for the film, when people see the film, they're going to be very surprised by my performance," he said. "The critics have spoken, something we're very proud of. We want everybody to tune in."

Now that Combs has come to the small screen, the multi-faceted entertainer plans to take on more acting roles.

"You'll see me," he said. "I need to be on the big screen to make that whole thing complete."

For his accomplishments, Combs will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame May 2.

"When you walk past the Chinese Theater, you need to stop to see me in the movie," he said.

As for the moniker on the star, Combs said he hasn't decided what it will read. The man known for his ever changing names has been Diddy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Puffy and Puff.

"I'm taking suggestions," he said.

But if his mother has her way, the star will read Sean Combs.

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