October 10, 2008

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Sigourney Weaver

Said at the Elle Magazine Women in Hollywood Tribute Event:

"Someday hopefully it won't be necessary to allocate a special evening to celebrate where we are and how far we've come...someday women writers, producers and crew members will be so commonplace, and roles and salaries for actresses will outstrip those for men, and pigs will fly."
A-list women celebrate their own in Hollywood (AP)
photo: Sylvain Gaboury/PR Photos

Idea for Biopic: Donna Brazile

It's politics all the time and even though this isn't a straightforward political blog, there will be occasions over the next 25 days where I will post don't miss political info. Here's one - a link to a video clip of Donna Brazile (Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000) at the New Yorker Festival last weekend talking about race, politics, how far we've come and how we won't go back. Very powerful.

Hat tip- Jezebel and Andrew Sullivan

Julie Taymor and Helen Mirren Team Up for the Tempest

Julie Taymor is taking a gender-bending twist on The Tempest by casting the awesome Helen Mirren at Prospera in her upcoming film. Film also stars Jeremy Irons, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Wishaw and Felicity Jones.

They start shooting in November and it will be released by Miramax.

'Tempest' cast includes Helen Mirren (Hollywood Reporter)
photo: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos

News Briefs

  • Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films, will be honored with a Gotham Award Tribute at the IFP's 18th Annual Gotham Awards on Tuesday, December 2nd in New York. (IW)
  • Barbra Streisand will receive a Kennedy Center honor on December 7th. That means she'll be hanging out for the evening with George W. Bush a month after her stepson has played him in Oliver Stone's movie, W. Would love to be a fly on the wall for that introduction.
  • "Nights in Rodanthe" screenwriter Ann Peacock has signed on to adapt John Grisham's 1997 novel "The Partner" for the big screen.
  • TBS has picked up its comedy series "My Boys" for a third season. (HR)
  • Annette Bening will star as Margo Channing in All About Eve in an Actors Fund benefit Nov. 10 at the Eugene ONeill Theater.
  • ABC news is now reporting that singer Beyonce Knowles has gotten the go ahead and has been cast to play singer/actress Eartha Kitt in an upcoming biopic about the singer’s life. (Brown Sista)

October 8, 2008

Guest Post: Citizen Jane Film Festival October 17-19 in Columbia Missouri

Women & Hollywood welcomes guest poster Polina Malikin, Assistant Curator, Citizen Jane Film Festival which takes place in Columbia, Missouri October 17-19th. If you are in the neighborhood, check out this festival and support these women!

As you probably know, only 7 percent of today's filmmakers are women... And though the numbers are a little less bleak for producers and editors, the picture is still disheartening. But, against these odds, there are many women who have established themselves as successful professionals in an industry where they are somewhat of an anomaly. What does that mean? Why does it matter? At the Citizen Jane Film Festival, we are going to be asking those very questions. And we want to hear answers from these pioneering women themselves!

This October, the Citizen Jane Film Festival will premiere in Columbia, Missouri – a growing university town located in the heart of the USA. The festival celebrates the work of women behind and in front of the camera through screenings, discussions, exhibitions, and other unique community events.

As a new and small festival, the Citizen Jane Film Festival is excited to create a truly intimate and meaningful experience, and to bring together an audience from the surrounding Midwestern cities (Kansas City, St. Louis, Iowa City, etc) in the heartland of the USA. The festival presents a really exciting opportunity to share work and ideas with an incredibly supportive and interested community. Last year, our brother film festival – the True/False Film Festival – brought over 18,000 people to packed theaters throughout the city. With the opening of the new Ragtag Cinema and a bevy of students and professors moving to town for its academic film and media studies programs, Columbia has become a really interesting place to meet and interact with a diverse, generous audience that is enthusiastic about film.

The Citizen Jane Film Festival promises to bring together a diversity of makers who are working with media in a variety of ways – from documentary shorts to handmade film to feature narratives. The festival will be an opportunity for filmmakers working in different genres and modes to have conversations and share resources. In addition, the festival boasts the local premieres of some stellar new films, an installation of a 100-foot film loop, an underground tea-house, and movies with live soundtracks!

The Citizen Jane Film Festival will open Friday, October 17th at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts with Trouble the Water, winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. Tia Lessin, director and producer of Trouble the Water, will present the film and answer questions after the screening. The opening night will also feature a reception and music.

The festival will bring together 20 acclaimed artists and professionals to present their work throughout the weekend. Among them will be Misty Upham, a critically acclaimed Native American actress who stars in Frozen River, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Also at the festival will be Astra Taylor to introduce her new film, Examined Life. The film recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and features some of today's most provocative and influential thinkers including Cornell West, Slavoj Zizek, and Judith Butler.

Experimental filmmaker Stephanie Barber will also be on hand. Barber has had solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Anthology Film Archives, Chicago Filmmakers and many other museums, galleries and art spaces around the world.

Other filmmakers who will be present at the festival include: documentarian Sarah Price (Summercamp!, The Yes Men, American Movie); performer, dancer and visual artist Allison Halter (Dites Donc!); visual artist and experimental filmmaker Micaela O'Herlihy; performance and video artist Kimberly Miller; experimental filmmaker and curator Sarah Buccheri; documentarian and writer Andrea Maio; musician and performance artist Susan Ploetz (Pashly); animator and first-time feature filmmaker Emily Hubley (Toe Tactic, Hedwig and the Angry Inch); documentarian and cinematographer Jesse Epstein (Wet Dreams and False Images); experimental filmmaker, visual artist and community organizer Xander Marro; and narrative filmmaker Nanobah Becker (Flat, Conversion). The work of these artists has been critically acclaimed, and many of them have shown internationally. Several films will be premiering in Missouri at the Citizen Jane Film Festival; others are rare screenings.

In addition to film screenings, the festival will include opportunities for discussion and debate. The Order of Myths, Margaret Brown's latest film about the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S., will be followed by a community panel examining race and ethnic issues on the local and national levels. Similarly, another community panel will examine Latino issues, as well as labor and human rights following a screening of the recent Emmy winner Made in LA by Almudena Carracedo. The film follows the dramatic struggle of three Latina workers as they take on the garment industry and succeed. Both filmmakers will be present at the festival as well.

For a full schedule, biographies and synopses, as well as ticket/pass purchases, please visit: Citizen Jane Film Festival

Lastly, the Citizen Jane Film Festival is sponsored by Stephens College, which is a 175-year old women's college in Columbia, the nation's second oldest. Stephens is nationally recognized for its performing arts and its new digital filmmaking program. So, there is an impressive crew of women performers and filmmakers – students and teachers – who will be participating in the festival. Of course, there are also plenty of hard-hitting professionals and established artists who have made Columbia their home.

Mark your calendars: the dates of the festival are Friday, OCTOBER 17 – Sunday, OCTOBER 19, 2008.

See you in the theaters!

Citizen Jane Film Festival

Roseanne on What Society Thinks of Women

Roseanne is taking her show on the road and is performing stand-up in London this week. She spoke with the Guardian. She's as awesomely angry and as outspoken as ever.

She believes that society wants women "on anti-depressants so they are no longer creative or fierce". Has she taken anti-depressants? "Oh, hell yeah. There isn't anything that I haven't done. They dull your rage. People don't like angry women so they say, 'We're going to have to drug that bitch to get her to shut up. We will humiliate her and disenfranchise her, but first she has to shut up.' Oh yeah, I did those anti-depressants the last time I was famous. I needed to dull the horror of it."
Fierce creature (The Guardian)
photo: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Lynn Sherr

Lynn Sherr just retired from ABC after 33 years and in her departure she leaves us with some thoughts on Sarah Palin in an interview with Gail Shister at TV Newser:

"As someone who spent years breaking down doors for women, I think a piece of feminism has to do with looking out for other women," says Sherr, 66. "What, exactly, has she done legislatively for other women? What paths has she forged?

"She's the person for whom all this was done; the beneficiary of all the good works of the women's movement. Yet she seems to have turned it on its head. She doesn't seem to care about bringing along other women with her."

Lynn Sherr on Leaving ABC: "It's a Very Different Audience, with Very Different Demands" (TV Newser)

October 7, 2008

Blog World Expo: Why I Won't Be Going Back to Vegas EVER

So I took myself to Blog World Expo a couple of weeks ago. Even though I got a free pass to the event (thanks Steph and Rick) it still ended up costing me about $800 which to me is a lot of money (cause I don't have a ton of it.) I thought it would be great investment and would take my skills to the next level, but I honestly can say it didn't.

So here are some thoughts that have been weighing on my mind since my return:

LAS VEGAS SUCKS FOR WOMEN: I will never ever, ever go to Las Vegas again for anything in the world! That place is a sexist cesspool where people check their filters when they get off the plane. It's not that anyone was overtly sexist or I got groped, but the whole town thrives on sexism and exploitation of women. You can't deny it. It's just gross. I could never feel comfortable in the city because all my nerve endings were just firing constantly and my anxiety level was at an all time high.

There were also a lot more men that women in attendance and I noticed some of the women acting like total fucking idiots around the guys wearing provocative outfits and flirting non-stop. Blog World Expo was not big enough to warrant needing to be in Vegas, and a half an hour into being in the city, I wanted to go home.

NO FEMALE KEYNOTERS: What is this 1972? Others have written about this but I think that it is worth about a thousand more mentions cause it's just not ok to convene a conference for bloggers (and let's remember that women are half the bloggers in the world) and not include a female keynoter. Having women and people of color makes the conversation richer and more complete. We don't live in a white male universe anymore, and it is the job of any conference planner to have a conference reflects the world. You need to think more outside the box and maybe the women aren't the "stars" but that language is so male-centric and full of crap. This industry is just beginning and I was very sad to see many if not all the typical male bullshit that we see in most established industries.

I don't want to see that it was all bad. Some of the sessions I went to were quite good and interesting. Others were not and unfortunately, most of the ones on the entertainment track were not very well attended. There was one panel that focused on how celebrities have used the blogs to fight back, and after two minutes of hearing the story of Jennifer Love Hewitt's fight for her size two figure I just had to leave.

I met some awesome women and got to know some better than before and for that I am excited. I think there will be some long term friendships and working relationships that come out of Blog World Expo. For me and my work, writing about women's issues, I need a community like Blogher -- I'm never going to be reviewing products or writing celebrity gossip. I'm trying to use the blog to raise awareness about how Hollywood thinks about women and to advocate for change.

Elle Magazine Honors Women in Hollywood

After the demise of Premiere, Elle took over the the annual Women in Hollywood issue and event, and while it was always celebrity driven it seems that any substance behind the event has been glossed away. I remember when I used to devour the Premiere that came because it was real substantive looks at a variety of women working in the business, not just the biggest celebrities. I mean do we really need another reason for these women to walk the red carpet and talk about their kids (which is all anyone seems to care about?)

Here are the honorees: Jane Fonda, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Sigourney Weaver, Salma Hayek, Anne Hathaway, Isla Fisher, and 'Twilight' director Catherine Hardwicke.

Isla Fisher- you have got to be kidding. I seriously don't get it. Is it in advance of Confessions of a Shopaholic?

Here are some quotes (or as close to quotes as I could get) from the red carpet worthy of note:

Sigourney Weaver: It's my third time at this event and I notice the progress that's been made, and the progress we have to make.
Jane Fonda: Women are very underrepresented in Hollywood
Eva Mendes- People like Jane Fonda and Sigourney Weaver are not just amazing and successful actresses, they are women who speak their minds and are respected for their ideas and guts.
Ha. I wonder the last time someone in the business told Jane Fonda their respected her idea and guts. I guess I'm just jaded.

Women in Hollywood (Elle)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Holland Taylor

For continuing to be an ongoing presence in TV AND movies and most especially for mounting a one-woman show about the late, great Governor of Texas Ann Richards next year. I am so there.
Growing From Too Young to Grande Dame (NY Times)

October 6, 2008

Happy Blogiversary Women & Hollywood

I missed my own blog anniversary. I thought it was in October but when I looked back I realized that it was on September 19th, smack dab in the middle of my trip to Blog World Expo (more on that later). So I took the opportunity, and looked back at where I started and where the site is now. I am happy to report (and hope you have noticed) that the site, and my writing has come quite far in one year.

I started blogging for a variety of reasons but one of the most important reasons was that as a huge movie fan who spent time and money at the movies, I began to realize as I got older, there were fewer and fewer movies I wanted to see. I figured that others probably felt the same way.

So in another remake of my life (at 40), I decided to join this brave new world as a way to write about my passion and maybe make some money at it.

Boy was I wrong.

From my experience, it's really hard to make money on the web. Granted there are some serious web stars and sites that get tons of traffic and have great followings. Traffic is key and using social media is one of the way to build that traffic. But you need to spend some serious time working the social media world (and it is it's own world), do upkeep on your site and also write the posts.

From my experience, blogging is a more than a full time job except you don't get a paycheck.

But here's what I've gotten (and I wouldn't change this for anything)

I've challenged myself as a writer and thinker. In the early days, I used to get so nervous pushing the publish button that my stomach would be in knots. I kept thinking, what do I have to say that could lend to the debate? A year later, Women & Hollywood has not only been a part of the debate, but it has helped led parts of the debate especially about building a women's film market. I want to thank all the people who read that site and especially the people who take time to comment. I apologize for not interacting more on the comments (I'm going to work on that).

So as we move into year two here's what I'm thinking about:

  1. Refocusing on why I started blogging. I like the writing and while the tech stuff is vitally important to the blogging process they are two different skill sets. While all bloggers write, not all bloggers are good writers. I want to write better and more meaningful posts which of late has been hard to do.
  2. Continue to dig in and learn more about using social media to build traffic. Most of the people I met at Blog World Expo are techies who have embraced blogging, not necessarily the writers who have embraced blogging. People who have become leaders in the blogosphere have such an advanced grasp of how to do affiliate sales, ad sales, build traffic etc. that at times I feel like a complete idiot.
  3. Building community and spreading the word. I am so thrilled with the start we made, but there is a lot of work to be done for women to achieve parity in the entertainment fields. I need to get more diverse voices on the blog and continue to spread the word and challenge the status quo.
  4. Embracing blogism. Figuiring out a way to take a blog and use it to create social change. We need to continue to build the women's film market. This was a good year for women at the box office but we need to make sure there is no backtracking and we need to support films by and about women on opening weekend.
Other things in the works
  • Blog Talk Radio: For year two we're going to add audio interviews with amazing creative women working in the business.
  • Publishing an e-book: Women & Hollywood - The First Year Interviews- I'm going to compile all the interviews done in the first year and make them available for a small fee that will help support the site.
  • Upgrading the site- we need to get more serious and move to another blogging platform that will give more flexibility.
Lastly, I again want to thank everyone who has been a part of this community and has spread the word about the site to their friends and colleagues. I feel we are building a movement and I am excited to see where it goes.

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Salma Hayek

For teaming with UNICEF and Pampers to eradicate maternal and neo-natal tetanus

In our own small way, this is an opportunity for moms like me here in the U.S. to help other mothers on a global level. I'm honored to work with Pampers and UNICEF to help raise awareness of this important program.
Salma Hayek Pampers Unicef (Hollyscoop)
photo: Albert L Ortega/ PR Photos

Free to Be You and Me Turns 35

Wow, now I officially feel really old. Free to Be You and Me which I listened to when I was a kid has turned 35 and is coming out with a new edition.

Make sure to get it for all your kids and nieces and nephews and neighbors. We still live in a world where this is needed.

Thank you Marlo Thomas and friends!
Free to Be for You and Me, 35 Years Later (USA Today)