October 17, 2008

Women at the Box Office This Weekend

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) a 14-year-old girl desperate to find a place where she can belong. For the two people who haven't read the book (I am ashamed to be included in this small group), it is 1960s South Carolina, the Voting Rights Act has just been passed, and Lily is desperate to escape from her abusive father and discover information about her mother who died when she was so little. Her journey takes her to the Boatwright sisters, three women living on their own in a glorious big pink house. These women are special. In a world rife with racism and sexism they survive and thrive through their own honey making business run by the oldest sister, August (Queen Latifah). Middle sister May (Sophie Okonedo) is stuck at age 15 when her twin sister April died, and youngest sister June (Alicia Keys) has become an activist with the NAACP. Lily finds these sisters through a picture her mother left, and as she gets to know the Boatwright sisters, and they her, they all discover they are family and belong together.

I really enjoyed this film. I loved the story, the performances and the power of the women. Here are some of the reasons to see this film: First, it's extremely well done and movingly directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood which she adapted from the novel by Sue Monk Kidd. Second, it is wonderful to see such amazing actresses in one film give such glorious performances. Queen Latifah continues to grow as an actress, and music stars Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys shine. Dakota Fanning proves that she is no longer a kid, and am excited for her continued growth as an actress. Sophie Okonedo shows she is a special actresses as May, a woman locked in adolescence. Third, it's the story of strong African American women, which is pathetically seldom seen onscreen. Lastly, it is timely. The struggle for civil rights and issues of prejudice still resonate today and are important to remember with the election less than three weeks away. And, to top it off, the director said that Sue Monk Kidd loves the film.

Film opens in approx. 1,600 theatres and needs our support. Please see it this weekend. If you are in NY, please join a group of us on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 to see the film at the AMC on 68th & Broadway. Details are here

Other Women-Centric Films in Theatres
Rachel Getting Married
Nights at Rodanthe
The Duchess
The Women: Read interview with director, Diane English
The Family That Preys
Trouble the Water (limited)

Who Does She Think She Is? Valuing Women Artists in Our Culture

Who Does She Think She Is? is a terrific documentary that discusses the challenges, rewards and struggles of women artists in our culture. Director Pamela Tanner Boll introduces us to five women who I am convinced I would never, ever had heard about had this documentary not been made. They were all extremely interesting but the stand out is Maye Torres, a sculptor and painter based in Taos, NM. This is a woman born to create. You can see that while watching her in her studio, you can see that when she speaks, you can see that when she interacts with her amazing sons (who value their mom and her work in such an impressively sophisticated way). She could not do anything else with her life, yet she has never been valued -- either with recognition or with commissions -- as a male artist is.

It is well documented in the arts that women's work is undervalued and at times dismissed (see post from earlier this week: The Art World Doesn't Treat Women Equally) because the feminine sphere is deemed as "less than" the maculine sphere. Women artists, just like women activists, have been erased from history. This is not news, but its still interesting to see it played out in real life. Director Boll shows how these women balance their lives and their families and how these women are better artists for being mothers, and are better mothers because they can embrace their creativity. I thought it was really interesting and raised important questions about what we value in our culture and why.

Check out the trailer:

Director Pamela Tanner Boll answered some questions about the film:

Women & Hollywood: Why do you think this is an important film?

Pamela Tanner Boll: Because the "work world" still operates on an assumption that a "serious worker, serious professional" will work single-mindedly--more than forty hours a week. And this leaves no time, no energy for parenting. We say we value "mothering" yet we ask our families to cobble together sub-par child care arrangements--if both parents work full time. In the art world, this problem is compounded by the fact that art-making, often does not pay, is sometimes dismissed as a "hobby" and is considered an "extra." Art is the first program to be cut in the schools--yet art--whether storytelling, music-making, visual expression, sculpting--is what defines us as human AND, at its best, gives us a sense and a picture of what matters to us as a people. The great civilizations of the past are known to us by the art they left behind. Pots! And houses and temples and paintings.
W&H: What do you want women (and men) to learn about these women and their work?
PTB: I want men, women and children to see that art-making is a vital aspect of being human--that it adds pleasure and knits together communities. I want people to see these women doing their art and raising their children and understanding that "art" can come out of the weaving together of these roles. Our notion of the artist is often one who stands outside of society--a loner, a defiant. These women enrich the lives of everyone who experiences their art WHILE being present for their loved ones. Art comes out of their care-giving. It's a new model.
W&H: How did you come up with the idea to make a documentary like this?
PTB: The film came out of my own experience of coming back to writing and to drawing only after the birth of my first child. I'd been a poet in college, won awards, but turned my back on the blank page and its bottomless demands, feeling it would be too difficult to keep imagining new worlds. And I was terrified of becoming a bag lady--unable to support myself--so went to work on Wall Street as a commodity trader. This was the 80s and women were supposed to have "serious" careers! Then I had a baby and the unending love and huge terror I felt for him plunged me back into writing--the only way I had truly ever been able to make sense of my experience and to mark the moments of my life. I am now the mother of three nearly grown young men. Beautiful. launched. But me? Even though I wrote stories and painted and had exhibits and readings--the work was always done in the cracks of family life. And I felt guilty, torn, never in the right place...so I set out to see how other women had handled this.
W&H: How do we help make the feminine sphere more powerful in our culture?
PTB: We make the feminine sphere more powerful by refusing, as a block, as a body-- to act as though our caring, our work in the family and for the family--is not work. Men and women need to stand up together and take back their lives--80 hours of work a week does no one any good in the long run. We have to start valuing work done in the home--monetizing the labor of love.
W&H: What are the goals for your film? Will you be showing it in schools?
PTB: Goals-- I want the film to start a conversation about living a life where one's heart, mind and body are more integrated. I want the film to inspire young people to sing, to write, to paint. I want older people to see that to sing, or tell stories or to sculpt--can energize and enliven one's self and community AND that one need NOT be a "genius" or "talented" to pursue these acts. We have done ourselves a disservice by allowing only those who are "gifted" or "talented" to pursue the arts. To be expressive is human. And to express some of the experiences unique to women--is overdue.
W&H: What message do you want to send through the title- Who Does She Think She is?
PTB: How many times have I stopped myself from saying something, from writing, from sharing a new painting because "who do I think I am." I think women are still sensitive to the criticism of standing out, calling attention to oneself. The good woman puts her needs aside for the sake of others. Or she risks being called selfish. This film shows women who give themselves permission to be at the center of their own lives, to dream their dream without turning their backs on the dreams of those they love.
Film opens in NY at the Angelika Theatre today. Director Pamela Tanner Boll will be at the 5 and 7pm shows today (Friday) and tomorrow for a Q&A following the screening.
More info: Who Does She Think She Is?

The Starter Wife is Now a Series on USA

The Starter Wife was a fun and trashy mini-series that aired last year and now they've brought the characters back for a new series of 13 episodes on USA. The show works because of the great chemistry between the lead characters especially the appeal of Debra Messing who has been missing from series TV since the demise of Will & Grace. She plays Molly Kagan the first wife of a Hollywood mogul who struggles to find her place after the demise of her marriage in a town where the only thing that matters is status. The amazing Judy Davis returns as Joan, one of Molly's best friends, a recovering alcoholic and Chris Diamantopoulos plays the gay guy friend (of course he's an interior designer). The series premiered last weekend (there are a lot of repeats during the week) and continues tonight at 10 on USA.

Executive Producers and screenwriters Sara Parriott & Josann McGibbon answered some questions on the series:

Women & Hollywood: Why did you decide to take such a successful mini series and turn it
into an ongoing series?

Sara & Josann: We love these characters - especially Molly. When we were asked to make this into a series we jumped on it. We knew that we had a lot of material in this premise - divorce, raising kids in a divorce, rediscovering oneself, mature dating. Basically a world we live in every day.
W&H: The cast is fantastic. I think the friendship between Molly, Joan and Rodney is much stronger in this incarnation. Was that intentional?
S&J: Not intentional but a product of knowing these characters even better. Coming into the series we already had their voices and their particular foibles down pat. How they interact and where their arguments would come from. It was a matter of exploring what we had to define in the mini-series.
W&H: How the heck did you get Judy Davis to commit to a series? It is a huge coup and she is spectacular.
S&J: I think her Emmy had a lot to do with it.
W&H: Debra Messing's character could easily have come off as a caricature of a first wife which we have seen so many times before. How hard is it to keep it out of that danger zone?
S&J: We try to make her problems every divorced woman's problems. But, of course, these problems are in a wish fulfillment world. She has to learn how to date post divorce and juggle parenting within that. She needs to find a way to make a living. Her heartbreaks are the same as any divorced mom and her fumblings at dating are every woman's. We concentrated on these things instead of revenge or "being poor" or less rich, in this case.
W&H: What message do you think the series sends to women?
S&J: There is life after divorce. You aren't just an ex-wife but a woman in your own right.
W&H: Do you think Molly is a feminist?
S&J: A refined feminist. One who must face the practical fact of having a libido and needing to make peace with an ex-husband for the sake of her child. A feminist who can compromise even as she struggles to separate herself from the "wife-of" role - to stand and even do better on her own.
photo ID: Sara Parriott (left), Josann McGibbon (right)

October 16, 2008

Will The Secret Life of Bees Suffer the Bradley Effect?

Hollywood does advance tracking of its films just like political campaigns do exit polls. The Secret Life of Bees opens tomorrow and the LA Times raised the question of whether white moviegoers (i.e white women) will see the movie even if they told the trackers that they were interested.

The story is very narrow and makes it seems that Bees was just being targeted at the African American market. I've seen ads everywhere and hear it constantly on NPR. I'd like to broaden the conversation and look to the successes of women's films this past summer, and films made from books for indicators just as much as the African American movies Amistad and Ray which the story cited. Look at the success of the recent romance Nights in Rodanthe which was also based on a huge best selling book that appealed to women. It made $13 million on opening weekend just a couple of weeks ago.

The Secret Life of Bees is targeted at women, not just black women. It's a women's story that should have universal appeal. We never have these kinds of conversations about men's stories which are assumed to be universal. Tracking shows that 68% of African Americans are definitely interested and only 34% of whites. Is it lower among whites because the teenage boys are not interested? I'd love to know where and how they do the tracking and how they do their sampling. Is it even split among men and women? Young and old? different ethnicities? (I'm going to look into this.)

This movie actually has all the elements to bring in a diverse group of women. It's got Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning, as well as music superstar Alicia Keyes and Oscar winner and American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson. It's a story about family, about strength and about love. It takes place on the cusp of the civil rights movement and so many of the themes are relevant to today.

Here's a quote from director Gina Prince-Bythewood

No one has ever seen this book as a black book...I am hoping that in the age of Obama, we can look at a trailer for a film and say, 'It doesn't matter who's in this, but does the story appeal to me?' "
So are we beyond race in the movies? We are with Will Smith. The man is biggest movie star in the world. I hope we are beyond race for women's films too, just like I hope we are beyond race at the voting booth. While this is a fictional film and its success or failure should give no real indication about whether some white people who say they will vote for Obama actually will, it will feel damn good if we get enough people out to the theatre this weekend to support The Secret Life of Bees. To me the most important thing to declare this weekend is that women are a viable market and that we will see stories that resonate with us and that we want Hollywood to make and release more films by and about women.

It opens in 1600 theatres across the country tomorrow.

If you're in NY, come see it with the Women & Hollywood film club on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 at the AMC on Broadway & 68th steet.

'Secret Life of Bees' is a test case for mainstream appeal (LA Times)
Will white moviegoers go see 'The Secret of Life of Bees'? (LA Times)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Lauren Shuler Donner

For producing The Secret Life of Bees, for supporting Planned Parenthood, for saying: "The country is a mess. George Bush's policies have been disastrous for the environment, Sarah Palin is awful, ...", and for being one of Hollywood's top producers.

Lauren Shuler Donner politically outspoken (Variety)
photo: Malcolm Ali/ PR Photos

Thank You Tina Fey

For doing your part to help people see what she has to say and what she stands for. I for one hope you won't have to play her after Nov 4.

Political scientist Jerald Podair tells the New York Post: "Presidential impersonators do influence elections, and in this one, Tina Fey is well on her way to ruining Sarah Palin’s political career. In a political culture that takes its cues from popular culture, a good impersonator may be worth a million votes.
Tina Fey Blamed For Ruining Sarah Palin's Reputation (Hollyscoop)
photo: The Insider

October 15, 2008

More Magazine's Women in Hollywood Luncheon

Last week the folks at More Magazine invited me to cover their "Women in Hollywood" luncheon which is part of a day long "Reinvention Convention." They had a stellar panel including Cybill Shepherd (as moderator), S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita Van Buren from Law & Order), Polly Draper (Ellyn from Thirtysomething and the creator and Executive Producer of the Naked Brothers Band, Kate Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway from Star Trek Voyager) and Talia Balsam (Mad Men).

I really enjoyed the panel, but the problem was that some of the basic issues that effect women in Hollywood, especially film, were never touched on. So for me the panel was more like women who would love to work in films but can't because of their age and because there are no parts. They mostly all work in TV and in the theatre and that is where the work is for women.

I wish we could have addressed for the audience the importance of the lack of women's roles on the big screen and what that means for our culture, but because there was no big movie actress on the panel, there was no one to give the context.

Here are some interesting quotes from their conversation that I picked up:

Cybill Shepherd: I've been fortunate, I started in the business at the top and look like I've worked my way down.
Polly Draper: When Thirtysomething ended and I was not getting the movie parts so I wrote a part for myself. I wrote The Tic Code and it took five years to do. It's very difficult for women in Hollywood especially as they age for a variety of reasons. There aren't many roles written for women. The Naked Brothers Band was the first time I directed. Nickelodeon bought it and I am the showrunner, creator and executive producer. I am in a more powerful position.
S. Epatha Merkerson: All that has happened to me has happened in my 50s. I remember starting out and people saying you're not pretty. I've made my living as an actor. I've never lived in Hollywood, only in NY...3 years after Lackawanna Blues racked up all the awards and I went to someone with a project they said not too many people want to hear a story about an older black woman.
Kate Mulgrew: I heard you are pretty enough to be a leading lady and now in my 50s it's hard to say goodbye to that. The difficult thing for a pretty actress is to have to let go of the fact that that was ever important.
CS: The doors opened for me because of the way I looked but when I wanted to grow it was difficult.
S. Epatha: Maybe for me not going to Hollywood fortified me as a woman and an African American. I am the longest running African America on TV. Why is that?
Talia Balsam: We live in a celebrity focused world and that is harder to fight than age. They want me in my 40s to play the part of the grandmother.
PD: Movies have been made for 16 year old boys and now they are staying home on their computers. Maybe they will discover this audience of women.
S. Epatha: It is is happening on the small screen, Kyra Sedgwick and Holly Hunter. Even the Desperate Housewives. There are women heading shows on the small screen. We are questioning what is happening on the big screen.
KM: I learned something about the male demographic when I played Captain Janeway. They were quaking in their boots to put a woman in the (captain's) seat. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out it's about sex. I didn't want her to look like someone they wanted to have sex with. I argued the fact that I didn't want her to have any sex as the first female captain because I was not going to run the risk of walking down the path that leading ladies have taken before -- to become a sexual object. I said I'm not going to do that because if I can't win them with my command, then I'm not the actress I think I am. But they allowed it. But the first question I am asked at every event is why didn't you have a love affair with Chakotay.
CS: I'm having a new flowering in film. I've done 3 films in the last couple of months. The largest budget was $3 million and one cost $700,000. The last one I just finished I shared a bathroom with the cast and crew - I was not happy - but I loved the experience working with young people and I'm getting better parts.

Best random quote from Cybill regarding the L Word: I got to play a love scene for the first time in 20 years and it was fun. It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman - it's just how attractive they are!

The Art World Doesn't Treat Women Equally

Not surprising, but certainly depressing.

Certain women, too, currently hold an enormous amount of power in the art world – but they tend to be outnumbered by their male counterparts. Lists like Art Review's Power 100, published today, show that a select few women are instrumental in making the artworld tick, but their number is underwhelming compared to the number of men: 15 women appear on the first half of this year's list, including four collectors, four gallerists, three curators, two auctioneers and two art fair organisers; seven of these 15 are paired with a man with whom they share their position.

On average per year, there is a 70/30 split in favour of men, and it gets worse in the top 10, where few if any women feature. This year MoMA associate director Kathy Halbreich is the highest-ranking woman, in at number three, and she's the first to appear on her own in the top 10 for five years.

Sadly, however, only three out of the 30 artists featured in the Power 100 are female, and these three all appear in the second half of the list, whereas five male artists appear in the first quartile alone.
Will women artists ever get the respect they deserve? (The Guardian)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Maggie Q

For being honest about how hard it to get roles:

90 percent of the scripts she receives are written for Caucasian female characters.

"The first part of it is going into a room (for an audition) and trying to quell this stigma that people have about Asians only doing certain kinds of roles and Asians only being looked at a certain way," Quigley said. "You run into these stereotypes a lot."

She described competing for roles in Hollywood as a "battle."

"It's a struggle. You got to win roles. You really got to fight for them. When I left Asia and went to the U.S., essentially I was starting over. It's very hard. It's a lot of work," she said.

Maggie Q: Good Hollywood roles rare for Asians (AP via Seattle Times)
Anthony G. Moore/PR Photos

Anna Deavere Smith - Back on Stage

Anna Deavere Smith (who can now be seen on screen in Rachel Getting Married) gets back onstage in a new one woman show exploring women's relationships to justice and law.

You can't see the "Arizona Project" unless you are in Arizona as it was commissioned by the folks at Arizona State, Performances will be Nov 5,7 and 8.

More info: The Arizona Project
Deavere Smith to Raise Issues in 'Arizona' (Backstage)

October 14, 2008

Baltimore Women's Film Festival October 23-26

The Baltimore Women's Film Festival is now in its second year. Marisa Cohen, the founder answered some questions about year two of the festival. If you are in the neighborhood head down and check it out from October 23-26. More info: Baltimore Women's Film Festival

Women & Hollywood: What has changed for the festival this year?

Marisa Cohen: This year the festival has doubled in size in that we have programmed over 100 films. Last year's festival had about 45 films. The reason the festival has increased in size so much is that we had so many great submissions of films we felt were vital and important that we literally had to increase the size and scope of the festival. This year we are extremely lucky in that over 30 filmmakers are coming to Baltimore to represent their films. We expect to have lots of great conversation and discussion about women in film. Also we hope to expedite lots of great networking and friendships among female filmmakers.
W&H: What do you hope will come out of this festival?
MC: We hope first and foremost that we can raise lots of money for the breast cancer patients at The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. The festival donates half of all ticket sale proceeds to the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center.

Also we want to continue the dialogue about the lack of women's industry representation in film and maybe even generate new answers and solutions. However, on the other hand we don't want the films to appeal just to feminists, we want to generate enthusiasm about female filmmakers and showcase films that appeal to everyone. The Baltimore Women's Film Festival also hopes to present a diverse selection of films by different types of filmmakers that will appeal to a wide variety of people.
W&H: Why did you feel it was important to create the Baltimore Women’s Film Festival?
MC: I had worked for film festivals before and was sick and tired of every panel discussion being full of 90% men, and older men at that. I am from Baltimore originally, so I am biased in that way and always thought it would be a great spot for a new festival. The city has an amazing arts scene and a very burgeoning and enthusiastic indie movement. Yes, the country is overloaded with film festivals at this point of course, so we can always ask "do we really need a new film festival?" However, the Baltimore/DC area was a region that can appreciate the important issues regarding the lack of women's representation in Hollywood. I felt strongly that attendees would turn out in the Maryland area to support female filmmakers.
W&H: Do you think that women filmmakers are drawn to different subject matters than male filmmakers?
MC: That is a really interesting question. We have seen a disproportionate amount of female documentary filmmakers. I was just talking to Melissa Houghton, WIFV DC's Executive Director, the other day. She astutely pointed out that is because documentary films are cheaper to make and often women just can't get the funding to make larger budget types of productions. I think that is an excellent point. With a doc films I believe its much easier overall to get up and running without a large team of supporting cast and crew crew.

However, on the other hand, I have to say that from what I have seen and heard women tend to be interested in all topics and genres of films if they can get the funding. Though there are probably likely to be less "Michael Bay-ian" films coming from women! Or maybe I am wrong about that. We just need to provide women with ample funding so we can find out that answer, don't we?
W&H: Will you elaborate further on the statement: “The Baltimore Women’s Film Festival is dedicated to and focused on seeking out cinema created by and for women”
MC: The festival seeks to present a wide variety of films created by female directors, cinematographers, writers and producers. However, technically the festival will screen films by men, we made the decision not to exclude men entirely. For example, we are screening "Patricia Baltimore" directed by a man. However, this gripping and powerful documentary is about a formerly homeless women who is out on the streets of Philadelphia using her experience to help other women who are currently homeless. Obviously a film like this is tremendously relevant to men and women. We want to showcase films regardless of the director's gender if the film is as good as this one is and we can try get it some much deserved recognition. Also the DP of this film is a women, so that is definitely a plus!
W&H: Talk about some of the films you are excited about and why?
MC: I am really excited about "Orgasmic Birth," this documentary film is by Debra Pascali-Bonaro and gives an unprecedented look into natural childbirth and explains it all in a brilliant manner. The film has to goal to "dismantles untruths about labor and birth that women have been told for generations." This is one seriously brave, bold and eye opening film.

A narrative film I am really excited about is "Vanaja" which was produced by an Indian woman named Latha Domalapalli. It is the coming of age story of a 14 year old girl in India, Roger Ebert called it one of the top 5 foreign films from last year. "Vanaja" has won countless awards so far and we are really excited to be presenting the Maryland premiere of the film.

One more film I wanted to point out is Women Behind the Camera, Alexis Krasilovsky's brilliant documentary film about female camerawomen from around the world. It follows the lives of camerawomen in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Mexico, Senegal, the United States and other countries. It took 6 years to make and includes over 50 interviews- that really blew me away. Alexis is making the trip to the festival to discuss her work and I think that her research will raise some very stimulating discussions at the festival.
Support women's films and filmmakers if you are in the Baltimore area next week
Baltimore Women's Film Festival

UK Honors Six Female Pioneers on Stamps

Thought you might be interested in this

First special stamp collection devoted to women
Stamp of approval: Six women honoured (The Guardian)

Report from Amazing Women in Film Panel at Woodstock Film Festival

Thelma Adams moderated a panel "Amazing Women in Film" at the recent Woodstock Film Festival. Panelists included: Maggie Renzi, Rita Taggart and Barbara Kopple. Here's some highlights from Sarah Coleman's post

All panelists were emphatic that sexism is still rife in the industry.

Renzi said it irked her when her peers say they don’t want to talk about sexism. “Where would Spike Lee be if he didn’t use the word racism or get angry?” she asked.

The panel was strong on female solidarity, with Adams saying she tries to champion films by and about interesting women, and Taggart urging women in the audience to use their purchasing power to press for more female-friendly movies.
I also don;t understand why we don't talk more about the sexism in the industry. We really need to start having more of these conversations in a constructive way. To support women's films, don't forget we're all going to see The Secret Life of Bees this weekend in NYC (Sunday, late afternoon, TBD later today)

October 13, 2008

Celebs Get on the Voting Train

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

Film director Sue Kramer (Gray Matters) is the mastermind behind the YOU VOTE campaign. She answered a couple of questions about how the project happened.

Women & Hollywood How did you come up with this idea?

Sue Kramer: I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a co-chair of the creative coalition's presence at the DNC and RNC conventions this past summer (other co-chairs were Tim Daly, Kerry Washington, and Tom Fontana.) I had been working all year and was very involved and obsessively reading everything and trying to be as educated as possible. When I went to the DNC I felt that the country was united. When I listened to Obama's speech I felt he was talking about non-partisanism and he was so inspiring about unifying the country and I walked away passionate about the country. Then I went to RNC and I felt different and it wasn't because I am a democrat. I felt like their speeches were about division so I thought to myself what could I do to show that this country is unified and that this is not about us and them, or he and she.

Hollywood has been criticized forever in terms of being completely democratic and only caring about democratic causes, especially because people think Obama is a celebrity endorsed presidential candidate. I wanted to show that all my conversations with people who came with the Creative Coalition were really more than just being a democrat or a republican, that people cared about the country as a whole. So I came up with this idea and approached Robin Bronk at the Creative Coalition and asked if they would be interested in this video.
Robin introduced me to John Paul DeJoria who owns Paul Mitchell products and he gave us a grant for production and I called my producing partner Jill Footlick who produced Gray Matters and I started rallying the troops asking people to work for free and they said yes and one by one we started getting celebrities.
From the time I came up with it to the time I was finished was just three weeks. Everybody wanted to be involved and were passionate about the project.
W&H: What do you hope this accomplishes?
SK: I hope this gets people out to vote for the candidate of their choice. I want to show it in a passionate and positive way. This is your right. This is the moment and you need to go for it.
W&H: Why is the Margaret Mead quote so integral in the video?

SK: It's one of my all time favorite quotes. It's been hanging in my office for the last ten years. I believe in it so much because I really believe it just takes a small group of people to make incredible things happen. Many people get scared and say that I'm not going to cast that first stone because it's not going to make a big difference in the world. But it actually does. That's why I put the vote dance in. Because I wanted to show that this is a joyful experience.

W&H: Talk about the You Vote anthem - Today.
SK: I called my composer Andrew Hollander who also writes songs with his wife Dana Parish. I called them at 11pm and told them that I was looking for an anthem -- something powerful and joyful. And she said well I'm really busy let me see what I can do. When I woke up the next morning at 8am there was an email with the song. They went to the studio and recorded it. We worked on the lyrics and now everyone is commenting on the song.
W&H: What's next for you in your career?
SK: I am deciding between two films (that I have written) to shoot in the late spring.
The video is going to be seen on 1,000 movie screens and on Verizon cell phone and of course and all over the web.

Newsweek Talks Women and Leadership

What is your definition of women's leadership? Here some prominent women share what it means to them:

Tyra Banks

If you have entrepreneurial dreams, you have to live it and breathe it. You have to treat the idea like a baby, like your child. You don't sleep when you have a new baby. I didn't sleep. I didn't have weekends. I worked nonstop...I'm looking for people who respect people at all levels, from the people who clean the building to the people who own the building.

Rosario Dawson
As for my activism, it doesn't always have to be superpersonal to me. But I do have a hard time saying no, because it's easy to find someone in your family who has cancer or HIV or has suffered extreme poverty or homelessness. It's all right there...I don't want to just be the spokesperson for something; I want to be affected by it as well...If we all listened to that little voice and we all worked to help that little thing that we know, then the whole world would be a different place, and we all would be doing our part.

Cynthia Nixon
When I won an Emmy for "Sex and the City," we got phone calls asking about our relationship. I hired a publicist who happened to be a lesbian. She said, "Why don't we just confirm?" So I did. I was following family tradition. Well-behaved women don't make history.

I feel like there is a complete double standard about the age at which men and women are considered attractive on screen. But that's what's wonderful about being a New York stage actor. If you can remember your lines, there will be roles for you. I plan to die onstage.

Kimberly Peirce- director Boys Don't Cry and Stop-Loss
One of the reasons you don't have a lot of women directors is that it's pretty hard for them to get experience. You have to get access to a good story, actors and money to put it all together. It's not like other art fields where you can afford to do it independently.

The director of a movie is the powerful one. I have found that there's a certain way of surrendering that power and sharing it in the pursuit of a common goal that really works. I can share the credit, which I do a lot. There's a big bounty, the real joy of collaboration. And women may just have a natural instinct for that.

Women & Leadership (Newsweek)
photos- Tyra Banks and Cynthia Nixon: Janet Mayer/PR Photos
Rosario Dawson: Solarpix/PR Photos
Kimberly Peirce: Chris Hatcher PR/Photos

See What You Get When You Underestimate Katie

Katie Couric has been the most watched, most talked-about network news anchor this election season.
Consider that the three most popular YouTube videos of her interviews with Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, have been seen nearly six million times over the last two weeks, far more than similar interviews with Ms. Palin by others.
I haven't heard a peep lately about her leaving CBS after the election.

Couric Rebounds With Web (NY Time) and Palin
photo: GL/PR Photos