November 16, 2007

November 16, 2007

Review- Margot at the Wedding
Noah Baumbach is not afraid to write unlikable characters. I admire that. I liked The Squid and the Whale, his semi-autobiographical look at the demise of his parents marriage. His new movie, Margot at the Wedding, is at its core the story between two estranged sisters both on the brink of big life changes. The sisters are played by Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Baumbach's wife) who admirable take on Baumbach's complex script.

Neither one of them gives a false note, and it is important to note especially on Kidman's part, her continual risk taking movie choices. Looking at her roles you can see that this is a woman interested in growing as an actress, rather than being focused on box office. It turns out that some of the roles she played were in successful movies that made money, and then she was pigeon holed on the box office take for the rest of her films. It's the studios fault that they offered her millions of dollars for films they knew stunk and then blamed it on her for not being able to "open a movie." From my assessment of her career, I don't think she cares about being able to open a movie.

The sisters come together to celebrate Pauline's (Leigh) wedding to Malcolm (Jack Black) an unemployed musician/artist. The fireworks start immediately when Margot (Kidman) questions and judges Pauline's decision. They go at it and even they they say they are each others best friend, you know that they aren't, and that quite possibly they don't really like each other. Family is tough stuff and Baumbach is not shy. Margot, in judging Pauline, is deflecting her own downward spiral seen through self-medicating and told through rude comments.

Movie opens on two screens and will hopefully go wider soon.


I am very angry at the folks at Criminal Minds right now. Here's why. I am a big fan of procedurals and have really enjoyed Minds especially when Mandy Patankin was on it, but I am getting tired of this whole mutilating and killing women theme which this show seems to relish. Then, on this last episode (which did great in the ratings) the one female character who actually has character, who is not stick thin, and plays the techie, got shot by a guy after their dinner date. The show totally played into the stereotype of if it seems too good it probably is, and perpetuates the bullshit that only skinny hot girls get the cute boys. They better resolve it well next week or else they will incure my wrath.

Jodie Foster will receive the Sherry Lansing Leadership award at the 16th annual Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Power 100 Breakfast to be held in Hollywood on December 4th.

The movie 9 to 5 is now a stage play. It will be performed in LA and will star Allison Janney (CJ from the West Wing) in the Tomlin role.
9to 5 Set its World Stage Premiere (AP via Miami Herald)

Kristen Stewart will star in Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight (Variety)

Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl is taking advantage of her star status by signing to star in Columbia's romantic comedy The Ugly Truth from the writers and director of Legally Blonde.
Katherine Heigl Set for Truth (Variety)

A Stuntwoman in Hollywood
Stuntwoman still Loves Her Occupation (Christian Science Monitor)

Rosie O'Donnell Returns to Nip/Tuck (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

I love America Ferrara from Ugly Betty. She is a breath of fresh air in a world of young women gone wild in Hollywood.
American Ferrara Relates to Her Ugly Betty Role

The fantastic Imelda Staunton talks about the roles for older women, and society's ridiculous obsession with youth.
Imelda Staunton on Her New BBC Drama

Tube to Watch

Sunset Boulevard - 8am, HBOS
Bull Durham - 8pm, AMC

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle- 3pm, IFC
Born Yesterday (the version with Judy Holliday)- 10pm, TCM

Molly Shannon stars in the Lifetime movie More of Me where the busy mom divides into four separate women to deal with her busy life. Rent Year of the Dog instead. Shannon is much more interesting in that.

The final chapter of The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard - 9pm, PBS
The Philadelphia Story- 10pm, TCM

November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007

Slooow News Day

Ellen Degeneres is in a really hot spot. She was planning on coming to NY to tape her show, but the Writer's Guild threatened to picket since she has basically been back at work since the writers struck. She stayed out the first day and twice didn't do a monologue, but she's at work. Her problem is that she is a syndicated show with WGA writers on the staff. Ellen is also a member of the guild. Most syndicated shows don't employ guild members. I don't envy her. Screwed if she does work, and screwed if she doesn't.
Ellen Under Fire

Renee Zellweger talks to Bazaar Magazine about remaining sane in Hollywood. It's sad when being able to be sane is not the norm.
Zellweger Says She's Proud of Her Sanity (USA Today)

Women's Murder Club- On the set, there's a lot of murder, but not any girl fighting
For Cast and Crew it Isn't a Club So Much as a Clan (USA Today)

Abbie Cornish soon to be big star on her role in Elizabeth
Abbie Cornish Found a Character in Her Corset (Sydney Morning Herald)

Tube Tonight
Cybill Shepherd is TCM's guest programmer with Ninotchka, Notorious and His Girl Friday. TCM, 8pm
30 Rock- Edie Falco guest stars as a democratic political operative who falls for Alec Baldwin's Jack.

November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007

Women's Murder Club - My Favorite New Show This Season
I have been looking for an excuse to talk up the Women's Murder Club, and an email from Sarah Fain, creator and showrunner is just that excuse. I know that critics kept falling over themselves to promote Pushing Daisies, which I find quite boring and I haven't watched my saved episodes for several weeks.

She emailed to clarify (guess that she has some time during the strike, fortunately for me) that she and her writing partner Liz Craft created the show and they run the show with R. Scott Gemmill. They are all executive producers along with Joe Simpson, Brett Ratner and James Patterson who wrote the book the show is based upon.

The show stars Angie Harmon who is so much better here than she was on Law & Order. I also especially like Paula Newsome as the medical examiner.

Show airs on ABC at 10pm on Fridays. This week's episode features Harmon's real husband, Jason Seahorn.

Variety has a series of stories on Women in Showbiz: The Politics of Change
One focuses on politics about how women in Hollywood are not all rallying behind Hillary Clinton (doesn't make them any different than women across the country). Story also mentions the HWPC (Hollywood Women's Political Caucus, disbanded ten years ago, which gave women in the biz a united political voice. I think we need to bring back HWPC!
Hollywood Women Split Political Loyalties (Variety)

Another focuses on the growing influence of lesbians. "These days, the war in Iraq looms large for lesbians, trumping even gay marriage and adoption rights as a front-burner issue." Well, duh. Ilene Chaiken, creator of the L Word and de-facto lesbian spokesperson adds: "Our voice is louder and stronger, and we have more potent meaning in the political conversation than we had in the past, when we were less visible." (Variety)
Lesbian Politics More Than Marriage

Pieces also include: How Hollywood Women are Speaking Against the Iraq War
Women Join Voices Against Iraq War
Stars Battle Violence Against Women
The Darfur Crisis
Hollywood Puts Spotlight on Darfur
AIDS Awareness Goes Global
Animal Rights
Stars Speak Out About Animal Rights
Hollywood Part of Immigration Debate

Good package, but I get annoyed when Variety dumbs down its pieces.

November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007

Remembering Adrienne Shelly and Supporting Women Directors

Last night the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, founded in memory of the murdered director, (director of this year's sleeper hit Waitress which could potentially get Keri Russell some nominations) had its inaugural gala with a reading of Adrienne's screenplay The Morgan Stories. Celebs scheduled to appear included: Alanis Morissette, Edie Falco, Mary-Louise Parker, Gina Gershon, Jason Patric, Leelee Sobieski, Nathan Dean, Jake Hoffman and Maria Tucci.

Women & Hollywood posed some questions to Adrienne's husband, and foundation founder, Andy Ostroy, about why he started the Foundation in his late wife's name.

Women & Hollywood: Why did you start the Adrienne Shelly Foundation?

Andy Ostroy: Following Adrienne's death, I was asked by many people where they could donate money in her name. Once I was able to think clearly about this, and consider Adrienne's passion for filmmaking, especially as a woman, the idea for the Foundation was born. I knew that it would be a very worthwhile cause that we could champion in her honor.

W&H: Why is it important to support female filmmakers?

AO: Overall, women are the true underdogs in filmmaking. Perhaps just 7% or so of all features are directed by women. This is an embarrassing statistic. Female filmmakers have a strong passion and a distinct message...and that voice needs to be heard more loudly. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation exists to help support these incredibly talented women as they strive to produce their work.

W&H: What type of grants will the foundation be giving out?

AO: We've provide a variety of financial awards that include film school scholarships, production grants, finishing funds and living stipends, ranging from $5000-$10,000.

W&H: What do you want people who are interested in women and film know about Adrienne Shelly?

AO: Adrienne was a one-of-a-kind human being with a unique voice that sadly is no longer with us. She brought a rare, magical blend of comedy, drama and unpredictability to her writing, all of which had ass-kicking female empowerment as its ultimate central theme. Had she lived, she would've undoubtedly gone on to become one of America's most prolific filmmakers. "Waitress" proved that.

Variety is running one of their regular features, this one is on comedy. As you can imagine, since there are hardly any comedies written by or about women, the section skews male. No actresses are featured, only one writer (Diablo Cody- guess if this was one year ago there would have been no female writers- how about Nancy Meyers?), and they have a section on Judd and His Merry Men. Several women -- Jenna Fischer, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Jamie Pressly and Amy Poehler are feauted in the Tube Titans story. I'm not even linking to it, I'm so disgusted by the whole package.

Since women are so infrequently honored and acknowledged in Hollywood, the Paley Center's "She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio" which honors 50 women for their contributions to TV and radio deserves note. Here is the list of this year's honorees:
Perry Miller Adato
Gracie Allen
Jay Presson Allen
Candice Bergen
Frances Buss
Peggy Charren
May Chidiac
Betty Cohen
Judy Crichton
Nancy Dickerson
Margaret Drain
Rebecca Eaton
Linda Ellerbee
Betty Furness
Amy Goodman
Lee Grant
Bonnie Hammer
Salma Hayek
Maria Hinojosa
Gwen Ifill
Marta Kauffman
Barbara Kopple
Claire Labine
Lynda La Plante
Margaret Loesch
Nancy Malone
Caryn Mandabach
Mary Margaret McBride
Beth McCarthy Miller
Marilyn Suzanne Miller
Andrea Mitchell
Gloria Monty
Christine Ockrent
Suze Orman
Rosie O'Donnell
Abbe Raven
Shonda Rhimes
Martha Rountree
Radhika Roy
Lucie Salhany
Jennifer Saunders
Martha Stewart
Hannah Storm
Nina Totenberg
Ellen M. Violett
Meredith Vieira
Judith Cary Waller
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Yang Lan
Paula Zahn

The women will all be honored at a ceremony on December 6.
She Made It (Hollywood Reporter)

Jada Pinkett Smith will make her directing debut with her script for the film The Human Contract. Hubby Will Smith will executive produce. (Variety)

I'm kind of getting tired of writing about Diablo Cody like she is the only female screenwriter in Hollywood. It was cute for a while, but now its getting old. Cody and her Juno director (out December 5) Jason Reitman are reteaming for her new script, Jennifer's Body starring Megan Fox. "The film tells the story of a cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a Minnesota farming town. Her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshiping rock band responsible for the transformation." Sounds dreadful (Hollywood Reporter)

Damages has been renewed for two more seasons of 13 episodes each. Glenn Close, Rose Byrne and Tate Donovan are all signed on.

Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel has signed on to star in Ticket to Rise to be directed by Vicky Jenson. "Ryden Malby, a college grad who is forced to move back into her childhood home with her eccentric family while she attempts to find a job, the right guy and some direction for her life." Screenplay is by Kelly Fremon (I would venture a guess that she is a woman based on the film description) (Variety)

Sarah Michelle Gellar, hero to young women and former star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appears on the cover of Maxim wearing just her bra. Why do young women in Hollywood feel they need to get naked to promote their movies? They never ask young men to do that.

Portia de Rossi, Ellen Degeneres' partner, is taking on her first gay role on Nip/Tuck.
De Rossi Nips at Challenges (USA Today)

Warner Bros TV and Telepictures are launching Mom Logic a website targeted at women with children. (Variety)

November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007

Sneak Preview
Saw August Rush directed by Kirsten Sheridan (daughter of Jim Sheridan of My Left Foot fame) starring the incredibly talented Freddie Highmore this weekend. Very uplifting and moving film. Also stars Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys-Myers. In this season of depressing films, I think one has a chance to break out of the pack. Opens nation-wide on November 21.

More on Diablo Cody, it screenwriter girl. I'm fascinated by the continued press obsession with this woman. I am sure part of it is the fact that she was a former stripper - which every article mentions. She seems to be enjoying and reveling in her 15 minutes. Here are some interesting quotes from the EW piece on her and her upcoming film Juno. Even being in Hollywood for less than a year she already knows where women rate in the business.

"I think teenage girls deserve a better shake in cinema", she says pointing to My So-Called Life's Angela Chase as the rare female character in pop culture she's actually want as a friend.

With buzz for Juno building, Cody has found herself a hero among young Hollywood women desperate to play something besides arm candy. "I Never get to meet with male actors because they don't need me," she says. "But actresses? Constantly."

And because she is the new broad in town, studios are sending her any and all projects that star a woman. "If there's a female protagonist or romance, they just assume it's up my alley. What, because I have a vagina?" (EW)
Did you notice the NY Times Magazine this weekend entitled Hollywood Goes West? Another completely male focused issue. The only women I noticed with the Questions for Patty Limerick column by Deborah Solomon (but she doesn't count as Hollywood to me); Jane Smiley and Nicole Krauss both have short pieces within the longer articles; pictures of Kelly Macdonald, Holly Hunter and Julianne Moore along with an exploitive picture of Tara Reid.

I've noticed that a lot of the stories and voices of the writer's strike have been male (Tina Fey on day one is a notable exception.) Here is a LA Times story of a single mother on strike.
A New Mother is Full of Joy -- and Fear (LA Times)

New film Holly takes on human trafficking (review to come soon)
More Than Cinema: a Campaign to End Child Sex (NY Times)