U.S. Release of Sybil Remake Delayed Again:

False Memory Syndrome Foundation Claims "Harmful"

June 2007 article

Please don't base your judgement of multiplicity, or these pages, on Sybil. Sybil was not a typical multiple personality, and many aspects of her case are controversial. We carry this information only because so many people have written to us asking for it.

The film was released in Italy and Latin America and parts of the U.K. in May and June 2007. It ran on HBO's Latino Channel. A huge letter campaign was staged by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. CBS and HBO along with some of the actors were flooded with mail from the FMSF warning them that they would be "doing harm" by allowing a Sybil remake to appear on U.S. television. This is probably a factor in the delay of Sybil's U.S. release.

Another factor is possibly resistance on the part of critics and fans of the original to the 'updating' of what they consider a timeless classic, and the idea of releasing the remake in the same year as the 30th-Anniversary DVD re-release of the original Sybil. Maureen Ryan's attitude, in the January 19, 2006 "Watcher" column of the Chicago Tribune, was typical:

CBS announced that it just began production on a remake of the classic 1976 TV film “Sybil.” What a bad idea. CBS has lined up Oscar winner Jessica Lange to play therapist Cornelia Wilbur, who helps a young woman suffering from multiple-personality disorder, and Lange will no doubt do credit to the role originated by Joanne Woodward. In the new version, Tammy Blanchard, who won an Emmy for her work in “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” will play Sybil, a role that won Sally Field a much-deserved Emmy, thanks to her riveting work in the original TV movie. The first “Sybil” was a groundbreaking TV classic: It not only offered a way out of typecasting hell for “Gidget” star Field, but it also demonstrated just how exceptional television movies could be. Leave it alone, CBS — or rebroadcast the original.
In an interview in Ability, Sally Field was asked about her role as Sybil:
SF: I did as much research as I could. Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, the psychiatrist who diagnosed Sybil, spoke to me about her, and I spoke with other doctors as well, who showed me videotapes of multiple-personality patients they’d treated. It was interesting, but in the end I didn’t really use much of that information because I didn’t think it was dramatically viable....

... in some ways. I didn’t really know much about multiple personality disorder, so obviously I learned a lot through researching that role.

We are all multiple personalities, in a sense, and to be healthy mentally, I think, learning what those multiple personalities are and inviting them in your life is really important. I mean, Carl Jung's concept of the shadow—the dark side that each of us carries around, the monstrosities we’re all capable of—is really a sort of multiple personality. It becomes a mental health issue when it occurs to such a degree that people are dramatically cut off from their own consciousness and can’t integrate the information in their minds.

For a sneak peek at the Sybil remake with a couple of photos, click here.

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