July 3, 2008

The First Original Play by a Woman at the National Theatre

How is this possible? How can it be 2008 and that a woman has never had an original play produced at the National Theatre in London. Sadly, this is true, but the record will fall this summer when Rebecca Lenkiewicz's new play Her Naked Skin about the suffragettes will open on July 24th.

Here are some quotes from The Guardian piece on Rebecca:

And it seems appropriate, under the circumstances, that suffragettes should be striking a blow for freedom at the Olivier. Nicholas Hytner, the National's artistic director, admits the absence of female playwrights seems 'extraordinary' but points out that it would be easy to misrepresent the situation. 'The context is that there are not many original plays at the Olivier by writers of either sex,' he says. 'It is a theatre that requires a particular set of skills: a muscularity of rhetoric, theme and imagination that will reach a thousand people.'
Hytner said:
Of the 1,000-1,500 unsolicited plays he receives each year, 'only one out of five is by a woman'.
Women: write more!
'I wrote the play because I felt the suffragettes had been forgotten. They suffered so much. I admired their comradeship, strength and old-fashioned pluck. Girls with guns, girls with bombs - but never wanting to hurt anyone.'

None the less, she believes that women are still trapped today, though in a 'different way'. She was particularly shocked by the way the suffragettes were force-fed in jail. 'Anorexia is the modern parallel - women trapped by body image. It is all about wanting to control the body. Women's bodies, through the ages, have been so much more used and abused than men's.' And she says firmly: 'Feminism has regressed a lot recently. On the news and television... there is so much woman as object.'
Can't wait for this to come to NY! If you are looking for a great movie on the suffragettes now pick up Iron Jawed Angels. I love that movie.
Turning the tables (The Guardian)
photo: Richard Saker

More September 12th Madness

The good news is that according to Nikki Finke Warner Brothers is going to spend $25 to $30 million in prints and advertising for The Women opening on September 12th. This clearly means more people will be able to see it. I am waiting with baiting breath for my screening invitation.

The bad news as I've mentioned before is that two other women centric films open that weekend -- Towelhead and The Duchess (see this post: September 12th Just Got Really Busy

The worse news is that it seems that Tyler Perry's newest movie The Family That Preys is also opening that weekend. I wouldn't care so much if the film didn't star Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodward as best friends whose families are falling apart. Film also co-stars Sanaa Lathan, KaDee Strickland and Taraji P. Henson.

This is just crazy.

Another Perspective on Wall-E

This take on Wall-E comes from the awesome Kathy Najimy (who just happens to be a fan of Women & Hollywood.)

I have a small part in Pixar's Wall-E. I found it to be a great film for girls. It is one of very few animated hits (Number 1 opening weekend) ) that stars a female Heroine. Eve is a robot who comes to earth, after the planet is overrun by trash and no human life is left, seeking life forms. She finds one and above all else (weather, love, etc.) is dedicated to her job of returning it to space. She is strong, purposed, fierce, powerful and dedicated. In essence she kicks ass.

Eve is a fantastic example of a strong non-compromising, female character for girls. (One of the best I have ever seen and as the mother of an 11 year old girl-- I have seen them all and am frequently disappointed-- I LOVED EVE!) The thing that impressed and delighted me the most is that Eve is one of very few female animated characters that isn't female identified by red lipsticked lips or a big pink bow in her hair or long false eyelashes or high heels to indicate she is female. She is, instead, a sleek white round ipod looking character that could be any gender. I applaud Pixar for not drawing or writing her in the usual gross, stereotypical manner. She is strong and in charge and saves the day.
Wall- E is a trash compactor left to clean thing up on Earth. He falls for Eve (sans eyelashes) for who she is-- -- and she is who she is with no apologies. Flawed, powerful, dedicated to her purpose and well...the hero. Wall-E is a great film that speaks courageously to the environment, the future of our planet, as well as depicting its lead male character as warm, funny, caring and sensitive (and into musicals)! And its lead female character as the confident, fantastically fierce woman in charge. That they find love together with neither "acting their gender" is a glorious relief and something I have never seen in a film before.
Thanks Kathy
photos: Walt Disney Pictures

July 2, 2008

Review: Kit Kittredge - An American Girl

Way back in the 70s the role model options for little girls like me who hated Barbie and played outside all day were quite limited. But I remember learning about the depression through the musical Annie. I remember Hooverville and the cheery optimism of Annie singing Tomorrow (which I belted out all day long.) Annie was our Kit Kittredge. Today, girls are inundated with many choices -- too many -- and I imagine that as a parent (which I'm not) it's probably a breath of fresh air to give your daughter (if have $100) an American Girl doll to play with rather than a Barbie (which coincidentally happens to be made by the same company -- Mattel.)

I saw Kit Kittredge at a screening where the girls in the audience were breathless with excitement. They were just too cute sitting down in the front row talking to the screen like they were seeing their friends, so cute that even the curmudgeon reviewers in the room cracked a smile. The film is adorable, really how can I have a problem where the opening montage includes photos of Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt who reside on the bulletin board in Kit's treehouse. What I loved about Kit is that she is the girl in charge. You hardly ever see girls so strong and confident. There is no doubt that she is the leader and her group of friends (boys and girls) looks to her for all decisions. While she's dealt some serious blows throughout the film -- her dad loses his business and is forced to leave town for a job, her family takes in boarders to help pay the rent -- she still soldiers on with her desire to be a reporter. I mean what 9-year-old knows what she wants to do and has enough moxie to show up at a major city newspaper and demand that the editor read her story. Her confidence in herself is infectious whether you are 9, 49, or 69.

A.O. Scott wrote in the NY Times this weekend about taking his daughter and her friends clutching their dolls to see the film. It seems that girls across the country are bringing their dolls with them. Cute. But let's put a little perspective on this. A month ago women were vilified as materialistic and stupid for wearing their Manolo Blanick's to see Sex and the City. One month later it adorable and empowering that girls are bringing their dolls with them to the movies. It just says to me that we love our girls like Kit to be strong, smart and bold (like Girls Inc. says) but not our women.

Kit Kittredge is a film that boys and girls should see and honestly, any parent who lets their son see something else because it's a "girls movie" is just plain wrong. Boys need to see girls in strong roles even more than girls do. I hope that we will see lots of dads and their daughters -- maybe it will spawn a take your daughter to a movie day.

This creative team on this film is infused with women power. Kudos to Patricia Rozema, the Canadian director who respected the kid actors and was also to get great performances from the adults who include Chris O'Donnell, Julia Ormand, Stanley Tucci, and the great comedian Joan Cusack. The film is produced by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Lisa Gillan who runs Julia Roberts film company (Julia is an executive producer). It is written by Ann Peacock based from the stories by Valerie Tripp.

film opens across the country today on 1800. It will really need support to compete against Hancock and the other big summer films.
photo: Cylla von Tiedeman

The Producers of Kit Kittredge Talk About Making the Film

I always love to here from the creative film people about how they got a film made. Kit Kittredge is produced by all women and several of them including Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Ellen Brothers (president of American Girl Doll) and Lisa Gillan attended a Q&A.

It was kind of strange to have a person who is a corporate brand leader talk about producing a movie but since everything is about marketing these days it was illuminating to see the impetus for taking the dolls to the screen.

I'm one of the people who really doesn't know much about the American Girl doll. For those others of you out there is the doll desert, here's what they are from the woman who runs the brand.

Ellen Brothers: American Girl is a 22 year old business all about celebrating girls. It's all about about developing products and experiences for girls that generations can share. If you go to one of our stores there are manners classes and cooking classes and muffins with mom and all sorts of things you can take with you. American Girl is about the emotional connection. Our audience is girls 3-12 and we have about 92% awareness of the brand and if you're not we have zero.
Manner classes? Cooking classes? I think that kind of regressive. How about climbing on the jungle gym classes?
Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas: I was aware of it because of my niece. I was always aware of the characters and knew they were more than a doll. American Girl, to me, was in a league of its own. There were toys and then there was American Girl, and the only reason I say that is that it's history come to life. What other product shows you history through the eyes of a nine year old? What was so impressive to me is that they vet everything. They have a whole department that historically looks at what life was like for a nine year old so you are looking at history through the eyes of a child, and sometimes you need to look back to see where you are going. Whether its Kit or Felicity when dealing with war, or Julie dealing with divorce -- each one of these girls is thinking how am I going to get through this.
How do you make sure that it is up to your standard?
EB: you control every single detail. We were very respectful of entertainment because in a girls eyes we have sold over 120 million books and these characters live in a girls imagination. We were very concerned that when we picked an actor to play the lead that forever more she would be that character so you have to make sure that you control all the details. I was so impressed when Elaine and her team came in to talk about this. She could have been interviewing for a job that's how well she knew the intellectual property and we always start with the story and then the doll. We start with the story first, the values we want to infuse, and then decide what the characters is going to look like and Elaine knew that to its core. We were pretty sure that we found the right partners and we made three TV movies in o4, 05, 06 and the logical extension of the success of those was to move to feature films.
EGT: We also knew that there was no family audience in TV. With very little media we sold 1 million units and what what that told us that while advertisers are not going to pay a lot to reach a family audience in TV, there is a family audience in features. And while others audiences are dwindling and coming and going what I kept on saying to anyone who would listen is this could be a movie because it's a family movie. I don't think its just for girls. I hope boys go and hope dads go. I know that our target is girls but I think its empowering for kids. It tells kids you can get through it. If a movie can entertain and educate a little bit, hallelujah.
We never say when it's a movie for boys or men that we need to get women and girls to attend, but when it's a movie for girls or women we say we need to get the male audience in. How can we overcome these stereotypes?
EGT: It's hard because this is American Girl. It bothers me to no end. I've given lots of interviews where I've said why does the success of Sex and the City limit or define an audience? The female audience has been there. For 15 years it was there with Julia (Roberts, an Executive Producers on this film) and everyone says oh it's just because it was Julia, then it was Sandra Bullock, then it was Reese Witherspoon, then it was The Devil Wears Prada and Chicago. We are always the exception why can't we just be the rule? I just don't understand it. Now they are saying that we are Sex and the City for little girls. No, we're a good movie. I don't like being the exception. I think the female audience has been there. I think that Julia Roberts did define it for our generation for 15 years, but before her there was Barbra Streisand there were always women there. It exists, it's healthy we have to feed it. And we have to stop treating every movie like its the definition or the end.
Why Kit's story?
Lisa Gillan: Kit is very popular and it's a time period that kids don't know very much about and are fascinated with. There is no technology and it opens up a world that their grandparents lived in and there are fascinated by little things that we at our age take for granted like typewriters. When Abigail first sat down at the typewriter she said: "where's the screen? and then how do I delete?" Kit's story was also expandable. We have a young boy who's a co-star. Valerie Tripp (the book writer) made these characters real. What we tried to do was dramatize it and honor her work as best as we could but expand it. It's hard because the 12 million girl fan will bust you.
EB: We love the way that the depression, 1934 Cincinnati, resonates with what we are going through today. It's about losing your home, relying on family and friends to get through, it's about loss, and we just thought that when we were putting this movie together a year ago we thought there were wonderful links that girls would understand. You can't ignore the relevance.
9 year old girls are strong and powerful and soon after that they lose a lot of that power. Why did American Girl pick 9 as the age of the dolls?
EB: I think that's one thing the founder of the brand Pleasant Rowling did. She didn't really understand what she was doing but took girls seriously. Now we look at the tween market which has 220 billion dollar in discretionary spending. No one was marketing to them 22 years ago when American Girl started. They decided not to pander to them. The books are written at a second grade reading level, and the whole premise is to compare and contrast points of American history that is taught in public schools. We've never done TV advertising. We market through catalogs and the catalogs are a real emotional hook because moms and girls keep them in their houses. There is an emotional connection.

A Conversation with Patricia Rozema, Director of Kit Kittredge

I attended the junket for Kit Kittredge recently. Here is some of the conversation director Patricia Rozema. (Not all the questions are from me- but thought you'd enjoy the answers)

How did you get involved with the film?

I was approached by Jill Goldstein at HBO Films. I had worked with her at Miramax. I spoke with Colin Callendar and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and they gave me the script which already had Abigail Breslin attached. I was looking for a children's movie and then they mentioned the American Girl doll connection and I said no, I'm not doing a doll movie. But then I read the script and realized it's not a doll movie- it's about a kid in the depression. I realized that those dolls are embodiments of characters and it suddenly seemed really attractive to me to direct something about a family that could lose it all. It spoke to me as a parent. This idea that there is so much more to hang onto than physical wealth.
It's ok not to just provide happiness in film. Ithink that kids are underestimated in their capacity to feel in a lot of movies. They get a steady diet of fantasy or super strength super wealth or super popularity with the action movie or the princess movies. It seemed to be a good balancer to provide them with something that showed a little gravity and loss and that also values writing and journalism. I was a journalist for a while and I can't imagine giving my kids something better than the wish to write well.
What are your feelings on why there are there so few women directors?
I have had good luck. I don't really know how to answer that and I am the kind of mind that if I think about glass ceilings and why people won't watch female protagonists then I just want to go home and lie down. So i can't think that way. All i can think about is that there are a few films I've seen made by women that have inspired me to carry on.
Which ones?
When I first saw Jane Campion's The Piano I realized that my top ten list had all been men. I didn't think I don't have a penis so I can't make movies, I just wanted to make movies. I've turned down projects that would have made me a lot more money and had a lot bigger audience in the past because they didn't inspire me. To do that sucks the life out of you and it takes your energy away. I hope to be one of those filmmakers who can go from very small to bigger and mainstream. I have a huge pop streak in me and I have an experimental streak in me. I'll just shift around.
Discussing the success of the HBO drama Tell Me You Love Me which she directed this year.
There are certain conversations that you have with adults in the room and certain conversations that you have when children are in the room. Adults have to allowed to speak frankly amongst themselves and that's what Tell Me You Love Me was about but there has to be respectful communication with kids and that's what this was. Maybe because I had done Tell Me You Love Me I knew I wouldn't be typed as a little kids director if I do this one. I feel like I can relate to both those sides because I have two daughters 4 and 12. I'm proud of Tell Me You Love Me. I didn't write it. I was able to do a polish on the script so I feel like I was at least able to guide it in a direction. It was very much a collective effort on Kitt Kittredge but Tell Me You Love Me is very much Cynthia's Mort's brain child.
We don't have enough girl heroines in our culture and Kitt is one. What does that mean to you?
If she can be a role model and can be taken seriously by real live girls today I could just die and go to heaven. She's a decent human being, she's hard working, generous, and still has a sense of humor. It's an honor to be able to engage children and I don't take it lightly.

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Meryl Streep

Two pieces on Meryl from the Guardian as Mamma Mia! is opening there this weekend. (I saw it last night, corny, hysterical and fun- fuller assessment to come)

She attributes the strong roles she's landed in the last decade to the rise of female executives such as Amy Pascal and Sherry Lansing. With male executives, she says, they don't employ older women 'because they don't want to see their first wife in a movie'. Super trouper of the silver screen (The Guardian)
But why did she accept the role? "It's a requirement of popular culture that you strike an ironic distance. This doesn't. It's a film about women and their whole experiences being hopeful and youthful and older and suffering the regrets that you have over a long life. It's visceral and I love that."
What happened to all those strong celluloid women? "It's a very big question," says Streep. "Women's real change in our society has been disruptive, but feels evolutionarily necessary. So now 60% of the kids in college are women. More than 50% of medical students are women. They're not at the top in government and business, but there is real change and I think that has terrified everybody. It's terrified men and it's terrified women." As a result, she thinks, "women have performed a compensatory step back". Streep starts imagining out loud what the women who have made that step back tell themselves. "'I won't be sexy if I'm this - even though I want to be paid an equal amount, I still want to appear sexy, I still want to appear fragile, so I'll lose weight.' That's my theory about what women are doing anyway."

How does this theory play out in Hollywood? "Before the war," says Streep, "there were strong women in cinema played by women like Barbara Stanwyck, Hepburn and Crawford, who were allowed to be strong and dominate movies because they were in no way a threat. In the real world, the characters they played were a fantasy. Basically, women were at home. When the second world war - in which women had been working and liked working - was over, in the 50s, suddenly there was Marilyn Monroe, Jill St John and Brigitte Bardot because women could not be seen as strong any more. And that was because, in the real world, it was no longer just a fantasy that there were strong women."

But why did the era of the 70s and 80s, when there were once more strong roles for women in Hollywood, come to an end? I can understand why men might be terrified of strong women, but why would women find them frightening too? "Because," says Streep, "women want to be with men." She starts to laugh and shrugs as if to say - it happens. "You're so slow!"

A legend lightens up (The Guardian)

photo: lahiquera.net

July 1, 2008

Teen Pregnancy Hits the Small Screen

Last week we were inundated with the supposed pregnancy pact made by teens in Gloucester, MA that turned out to be false. We're all wigged out because the latest stats show an increase in teen births (girls 15-19) from 40.5 births per 1,000 in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006 (thanks to the Guttmacher Institute for the stats). BTW births increased for all women during this time period.

Everyone is quick to blame Juno and Knocked Up for what University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Jane Brown, calls "The Juno Effect."

Professor Brown runs the Teen Media Project and said:

It may have had a kind of agenda-setting effect, and that's what may have happened with 'Juno,' 'Knocked Up' and the celebrity baby-bump watch we're on -- all that is glamorized pregnancy...
Two new shows on teen pregnancy are on the air this summer, one The Secret Life of an American Teenager starts tonight on ABC Family. Molly Ringwald stars as the mom of a "good girl" who gets knocked up. (I still can't believe that Molly Ringwald is playing a mom on TV.) The other show the Baby Borrowers on NBC gives teens babies so they can understand what it's like to be parents.

I remember the good old days of my youth when they gave kids on TV fake babies or even eggs to show how hard it is to be a parent. The Secret Life comes from Brenda Hampton the creator of 7th Heaven. Hampton gave this quote about the show: "I don't have anything to say about the issue of teen pregnancy," Hampton said. "I'm just telling a story about a girl who happens to get pregnant."

Note to Brenda: that's a completely disingenuous quote. I'm not for blaming the culture for teen pregnancy or anything else but I truly believe that it is a part of the issue. TV shows and movies shouldn't take all the responsibility, but people, especially kids, are so influenced by the culture that by shrugging your shoulders and saying I'm not saying anything about teen pregnancy is bunk.

Baby' and 'Secret Life' explore teen taboo (Hollywood Reporter)

Mother and Daughter- Huh?

Molly Shannon and Selma Blair are playing mother and daughter in the new NBC comedy Kath & Kim based on the Australian show of the same name. NBC has just added 7 more episodes for a total of 13.

I don't know how they think we can believe these women are mother and daughter since they are only 8 years apart. Molly will be 44 this fall and Selma turned 36 last week.

Give me a break.

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Gillian Anderson

For acquiring the biography of trailblazing journalist Martha Gellhorn who covered both the Spanish Civil War and Vietnam. Anderson will star in and produce the film through her production company. She's also going to play Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Donmar Warehouse in London next year. Oh, and she's in the X-Files film sequel that opens later this summer.
Gillian Anderson acquires 'Gellhorn' (Variety)

Little House on the Prairie Musical Breaks Advance Sale Record

A new musical based on the beloved Little House on the Prairie books broke the box office in advance sales at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis where it will open in August. 58% of the ticket buyers said they has never seen a show at the theatre before.

Melissa Gilbert, who starred in the TV series and is the former head of the Screen Actors Guild, takes on the role of Ma and the creative team is all women: music by film composer Rachel Portman, lyrics by Donna di Novelli and book by Rachel Sheinkin (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”). Francesca Zambello (“The Little Mermaid”) directs.

Let's hope this show does well and has a long life.

'Little House' breaks bank (Variety)
photo: Robert Torrence/ PR Photos

June 30, 2008

The Facination with Celebrity Women in Crisis

Are women celebs in peril treated differently than male celebs? I don't think I really need to answer that question. Our culture, especially women, are obsessed with celebrity and when these women are in crisis, our interest is only heightened. So the question is, why are we continuously so interested in Britney, Lindsay, Paris, Nicole, Amy etc.? Don't you think we've had enough?

We can lay some of the blame at the foot of Bonnie Fuller who after working at YM and Cosmopolitan went and remade US Weekly and then the Star. I remember the days when the Star was just supermarket trash like the National Enquirer. By making it into a glossy and including tons of pictures of celebrities she made it into a "reputable" magazine like People, except for the fact that it is all celebrity focused. She was profiled in this Sunday's NY Times the 101 Secrets (and 9 Lives) of a Magazine Star as she embarks a creating a new media brand that will, in no doubt, continue to feed our celebrity centric diet. As writer David Carr says in the piece: "celebrities have always been with us, but not quite in the way they are now since Ms. Fuller rethought them as familiars, our fake friends whom we can slag or praise, depending on the moment."

This past week a couple of English professors -- Prof Diane Negra and Dr Susan Holmes -- from University of East Anglia in England, put together a conference that focused on whether female celebs are getting a raw deal. The conference was called Going Cheap? Female Celebrity in the Tabloid, Reality and Scandal Genres and included panels like Britney's Tears: The Abject Female Celebrity in Postemotional Society and Hooker, Victim and/or Doormat: Lindsay Lohan and the Culture of Celebrity Notoriety. Other topics discussed included: Mother of the Year: Dina Lohan, Lynn Spears and the Discourse of Bad Motherhood; Toxic: Perez Hilton, Gossip Blogging and the Spectacle of Female “Train Wreck” Celebrity; and ‘She has it all’—Style, Iconicity, and Celebrity Motherhood in the Sarah Jessica Parker Brand.

The goal of the conference was to study why women celebrities are treated in a more punitive way when in peril than their male peers, why we get pleasure out of seeing these "train wrecks" and as Professor Negra says our "pleasure in seeing women brought low."

Dr. Su Holmes gave a little perspective on the topic for Women & Hollywood.

Women & Hollywood: Why are we so obsessed with these young women in peril and what does that say about us as a culture?

Dr. Su Holmes: First, it reflects on the wider desire to see celebrities ‘stripped bare’ – as ‘damaged’, more ‘ordinary’, and in some ways, apparently more ‘real’. This might be cast as a kind of democratisation of the relationship between audience and celebrity, or at least a means of venting public frustration with inequalities in wealth, privilege etc.

However, in looking at the different treatment of male and female celebrities – especially with respect to young women – it is clear that this is far from a ‘democratic’ culture, as often sexist and misogynist discourses are still in play. Female celebrities are often treated far more punitively – and judged more harshly for their actions – by the media/ public. One of the reasons for this may be a cultural anxiety around gender roles in a post-feminist context.

Seeing Britney Spears ‘fail’ as a mother, or young women lurching in and out of ‘re-hab’, might be seen as ‘proof’ of the fact that women can’t ‘have it all’ (work, career, family, love life) and be successful. This is then seen as essentially ‘reassuring’ in terms of traditional gender boundaries. We might also point to the fact that women, and especially young women, are often positioned as epitomizing a decline in the cultural value of fame (‘famous for being famous’). The fact that women are more likely to be conceived as ‘trivial’ celebrities reflects the fact that women’s work (in terms of career) has always been less valued than men’s.
W&H: What can we (as women) do to not be complicit in this vicious cycle?
SH: In terms of existing debate in the media, it has regularly been claimed that the punitive treatment of young female celebrities is effectively perpetuated by female audiences. After all, the dominant explanation for what was seen as an explosive interest in the female celebrity as ‘trainwreck’ narrative was that the answer was rooted less in ‘sexism, [than]… the demographics of the [celebrity] audience’ (Williams, 2008).

In other words, at least with respect to the celebrity magazine market, it is the desires of the female audience which are posited as driving the interest in these representations (Rebeck, 2008). We are informed that: ‘women readers actually like to see pretty girls screw up, we're positively obsessed by it, to the degree that we want them to do drugs and get into drink-driving accidents and act like total freaks and end up in rehab or worse’ (Rebeck, 2008). Whilst relying on sexist ideologies in itself (women are seen here as innately ‘competitive, jealous and individualist), this certainly suggests that women are complicit in these representations. Yet what ‘drives’ media coverage is clearly a complex issue, and there is also very little research into how ‘female celebrity damage’ is used/ interpreted by audiences.

In other words – do we know that women are ‘all’ complicit? Maybe these images are read critically – and not just by academics? If the audience – whether male or female – stopped consuming such images of celebrity culture, it would cease to be profitable and thus produced, but this doesn’t seem like a likely outcome!
FYI- the Rebeck referred to in Dr. Holmes' second answer is Theresa Rebeck the playwright and novelist who has just written a cautionary tale about the celebrity culture, Three Girls and Their Brother. Here's the Guardian piece:
Why the media will hound the girls - but leave the boys alone

Professor Negra also had some good thoughts.
But Negra said the coverage of women is more judgmental, casting wayward female celebrities as "cautionary tales." She said coverage of female celebrities is less likely to celebrate a troubled star's triumphant comeback, the way Downey has been lauded for "Iron Man," or Owen Wilson has been shown returning to work after a reported suicide attempt.
"We seem to have a lot more fixed ideas about what women's lives should be like than we do of men," she said.

"When we use female celebrities this way, we see them failing and struggling, they serve as proof that for women the work-life balance is impossible. Can you have it all? The answer these stories give again and again is 'absolutely not.'

Experts debate lure of 'train-wreck' female celebs (AP via CNN)
Why are we obsessed with female celebs? (Evening News 24)

First Mamma Mia Review is a Rave

It doesn't get much better than this.

No matter how many blockbusters there are, Universal's screen version of the global hit stage musical "Mamma Mia!" is the most fun to be had at the movies this or any other recent summer.

Teenage boys may be glued to the latest action adventure, but the rest of the family will have a rollicking good time dancing in the aisles to Swedish pop group ABBA's irresistible songs. It's a delightful piece of filmmaking with a marvelous cast topped by Meryl Streep in one of her smartest and most entertaining performances.

Streep is sensationally good in rendering the whole yarn credible and in performing dramatically moving songs such as "Slipping Through My Fingers," sung to her departing daughter, and "The Winner Takes It All," to a lost love. It's no stretch to think of her performance in Oscar terms, ranking with such previous musical winners as Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

And when Streep teams with Walters and Baranski for dynamic and crowd-pleasing numbers such as "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia!" and "Super Trouper," there's not an audience anywhere that won't be smiling.

Can't wait. Opens across the US July 18.
"Mamma Mia!" will pull in money, money, money (Hollywood Reporter via Reuters)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Antonio Banderas

For calling out Hollywood on its ageism and sexism.

It may seem a little harsh to say this, but this town is like a factory that needs fresh flesh, and once actresses become 40 or 50 they are forgotten," the Latin heartthrob said. "That's the opposite of Europe where actresses like Simone Signoret are respected as they age and work until they die.
via LA Times