January 3, 2008

January 3, 2008

Cashmere Mafia Premieres on Sunday on ABC
With the writer's strike now in its 9th week with my DVR bereft of shows to be recorded over the next couple of weeks, I, as a self-described TV addict, (I came to terms with this problem many years ago) am especially happy to greet any new shows.

We all know that TV not movies is the place to be if you are a strong, independent women. And ever since it went off the air, we (the general we) all have been waiting for a show to take up the mantle as the next Sex and the City.

While I believe that the current dramas like Grey's Anatomy and the Women's Murder Club owe their existences to Sex and the City, no show has yet been as deliberate as Cashmere Mafia. Probably because Cashmere Mafia, like Sex, is created and executive produced by Darren Star attempting to build on the same formula that launched a hit a decade ago.

Having seen a very early version of the pilot (which has undergone changes to make the women more likable- yikes!) I was excited to see four interesting and different actresses, some like Miranda Otto and Frances O'Connor with serious film pedigrees, and Lucy Liu with her Ally McBeal and Charlie's Angels cred.

According to the press material the show is about "four ambitious, sexy women who have been best friends since business school, Mia, Zoe, Juliet and Caitlin try to have it all."

That's the rub to me -- no one man or woman can have it all - that is a load of bull fed to us to make us feel that we suck at everything we do. These women are competing at everything all the time, and even though I enjoyed the show, it was exhausting to watch. The focus on business and competition (including women fighting with women at work) makes me long for reruns of Sex and the City which above all was about the relationships between the women. A big plus is that the show features the only lesbian character on broadcast TV (unbelievable!) played by Bonnie Sommerville.

The show is on ABC which has had much success reaching the female audience. I think its got a good shot at being a success, especially if people find it during the writer's strike. Competition will arrive in the form of Lipstick Jungle in February which is created by Candace Bushnell the writer of the columns that Sex and the City was based on.

Quotes from a USA Today piece:

Why can't there always be shows about women? No one asks a man if it's difficult to have another show about men."

Certainly, there's a surge in women-centric programming on television, with an increase in strong roles for women, even as powerful, memorable leading parts decline for actresses in films.

There's Glenn Close on FX drama Damages, Holly Hunter in TNT's Saving Grace, Sally Field at the center of ABC family drama Brothers & Sisters and Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime's Weeds, all nominated for Golden Globes; the standout female doctors on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and the suffering spouses on Desperate Housewives, TV's No. 2 and 3 scripted series; and for die-hard fans, the sanitized singles on TBS' cleaned-up reruns of Sex.

Networks "realize, wow, women can sell television. It's not new," says Cashmere's Somerville. "But women sell movie tickets. Women sell ideas. Women are an integral part of the business world. I've always worked on shows with women.
Sorry Bonnie, according to Hollywood women don't sell movie tickets.

The Women of Cashmere Mafia Suit Themselves (USA Today)

L Word Premiere Sunday Night
The L Word kicks off its fifth season on Sunday night on Showtime. (I'm working on getting creator Ilene Chaiken to answer some questions about the season.) One of the main focuses this season is a "don't ask don't tell" storyline with Tasha (played by Rose Rollins) at the center.
L Word's Rose Rollins in on the Front Lines (NY Daily News)

Ellen Goodman takes on Juno
There are very few better commentators on women's issues than Ellen Goodman that it's worthy to take a look at some of her comments.
But we are in the midst of an entire wave of movies about unexpectedly pregnant women -- from Knocked Up to Waitress to Bella -- all deciding to have their babies and all wrapped up in nice, neat bows.
Here is a cinematic world without complication. Or contraception. By some screenwriter consensus, abortion has become the right-to-choose that's never chosen. In Knocked Up it was referred to as "shmashmortion." In Juno the abortion clinic looks like a punk-rock tattoo parlor.
I don't want to return to those wonderful yesteryears when Dan Quayle took on Murphy Brown. But we're navigating some pretty tricky cultural waters here.
On the one hand, liberals who want teens to have access to contraception and abortion don't want to criticize single mothers. On the other hand, conservatives who want teens to be abstinent until marriage applaud girls who don't have abortions.
I agree with everything here. To me the issue that Hollywood needs to remember is that movies do matter, they do effect people and they pick up lessons --good and bad-- from them. Abortion and teen pregnancy are still very controversial and important issues. Clinics are still being bombed. Young women are still getting pregnant with regularity in fact I read a story today that said that said that 20 schoolgirls get pregnant in England each day. I am still floored that Knocked Up got away with calling an abortion a "smashmortion." It's the flippancy that makes me so angry with Judd Apatow. At least his halo has been tarnished by the flop of Walk Hard.

Still the best movie that dealt with teenage pregnancy that I saw all year long was Stephanie Daley. Rent it!

In the Movies, She Keeps the Baby (Washington Post Group via Alternet)

L'Oreal and Women in Film to Honor Women Directors with Vision award at Sundance (Variety)

Vanessa Redgrave brings a wisdom and gravity to Atonement.
A Touch of Class
(LA Times)