December 23, 2008

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December 22, 2008

Sexism Watch: Fox to Create Show Called Bitches

This just came through and I couldn't resist putting it up. The Fox Network is developing a drama called Bitches, "about a quartet of female friends in New York who are werewolves." The show has received a script commitment and its from a guy names Michael Dougherty whose credits include the screenplay of X Men 2, Superman Returns, Trick r Treat and the upcoming I, Lucifer.

WTF? I find the show's title incredibly offensive. Why can they get away with this crap?

Update: To me there is a difference between Bitch Magazine, a magazine created by feminist women to talk back or bitch about how pop culture treats women, and a TV show called Bitches which to me comes off as anti-woman. It just doesn't pass my smell test.

Jackie Hoffman is One of the Funniest Women EVER

I'm a big fan of Jackie Hoffman. I've seen her holiday show that runs at Joe's Pub in NYC a couple of times and I literally peed in my pants. I know that's gross, but she is that funny. While she may not be the biggest star (and she should be) you may recognize her from Kissing Jessica Stein or have seen her on Broadway in Hairspray and Xanadu.

She's taken some of the material from her recent shows and put them on a hysterically funny CD which is out now. Purchase her CD here. She can be seen at Joe's Pub in NYC on December 22 and January 5. Info here.

She answered some questions for Women & Hollywood:

Women & Hollywood: You're back at Joe's Pub in NYC for another edition of your anti-holiday show. What is it about the holidays that brings out the worst in you?

Jackie Hoffman: The hypocritical obsession with all things warm and fluffy and children. The music that is shoved down my throat everywhere. If you've seen my show, I think you'd say that it brings out the best in me.
W&H: Your comedy is hysterical and bitter. Where does that come from?
JH: Right? My theory is all the taunting at the playground, and growing up the overweight girl with the big nose and crossed eyes.
W&H: You've been on Broadway in Hairspray and Xanadu. Any more shows on the horizon?
JH: Just mine as far as I know. That horizon is dying more by the minute
W&H: On your CD you make fun of your health issues. Tell us why you make fun of your fibroid and scare with cancer.
Because the irony is just too perfect. Someone who has the courage to speak out about not worshipping children, and then getting a gigantic tumor that resembled a pregnancy, and being rendered infertile. I couldn't not talk about it.
W&H: You love to make fun of the Jews without making Jews feel defensive (which is hard). Why are the Jews such fodder for your comedy?
JH: Thank you. I just do what writers do, go with what I know. I was raised by and with very funny Jews. And some of the attitudes and characters that I've come across in my life are too good to pass up.
W&H: What's next for you?
JH: I am taking my act on the road to different cities to promote this album. There is nothing like it out there, and I'm very proud of that.

DVD Watch: The Commander - Set One

I spent both Saturday and Sunday morning fixated on watching the English series The Commander (which was recommended by the Flickfilosopher several months ago.) The series totally rocks. The show debuted on ITV in Britain in 2003 starring Amanda Burton as Commander Clare Blake. Super awesome crime writer Lynda La Plante (who specializes in writing about women and also wrote the Prime Suspect series with Helen Mirren) gives us a strong female leader competing against the boys and holding her own. She just a tough and conniving as the guys and does quite a few shady and compromising things to keep her job. Some of her decisions are more than questionable -- like falling in love with a man she put in jail ten years before for murdering his girlfriend, or sleeping with the boyfriend of a woman who works for her-- but that's typical of La Plante's women.

Amanda Burton is fantastic. I also loved her in Silent Witness (a forensic CSI like show that ran on BBCA.) I guess I am a bit obsessed with British crime dramas that star women. They just seem to be so much better than ours.

If you have some downtown over the holidays and are looking for some good TV, check out The Commander. I got it on netflix. I can't wait until they release the next series here in the US.

December 19, 2008

Review: Nothing But the Truth

Rod Lurie is one of the few guys who cares about writing really strong female characters. I fell in love with his complicated women back when Joan Allen played a hopeful vice-presidential candidate in The Contender. It continued through the too short TV show Commander in Chief that starred Geena Davis as the first female president of the United States.

In his latest film, Nothing But the Truth, a drama very loosely based on the Judith Miller going to jail to protect her source saga, Lurie again brings to the fore some seriously complicated women. Kate Beckinsale who shows acting skills here far beyond what has been demanded or frankly expected of her before, plays Rachel Armstrong an ambitious reporter at a Washington DC newspaper who blows the cover of a Valerie Plame like CIA operative. Vera Farmiga (one of the most interesting and versatile actresses around) plays the subject of the bombshell piece, a suburban mom/covert agent whose daughter just happens to be in the same class as Beckinsale's son.

The outing of Erica Van Doren has devastating consequences for both women in the workplace and at home, illuminating the struggle of working moms everywhere albeit a bit more complicated than usual. Beckinsale's Rachel is pressed to reveal her source and with her paper's backing, she refuses and is jailed. Her ongoing battle to get out of jail and keep her source protected takes up the second half of the film as Rachel becomes a pawn in the legal battles between the government and the press. Lately it seems that the press has been losing these battles. The film shows the personal toll on Rachel and her family.

Farmiga shows the fear and terror with subtlety when she is outed and in that scene you can see her brain working trying to figure out how to make the oncoming avalanche stop knowing full well that she can't. She then gets pissed not only for the fact that her career is now irrevocable changed, but also thinks about protecting her young daughter and her already disintegrating marriage. It's a mess for everyone and that's also what I like about Lurie's women. They're not perfect by any means. I don't need women onscreen to be perfect or above reproach, I like to see them as complicated and realistic and that's what Lurie gives us.

Check out the trailer:

Film opens in Limited release this week and wider in January.
Nothing but the Truth

Could a Female Cinematographer Actually Get an Academy Award Nomination This Year?

A woman has NEVER been nominated for the best cinematography Oscar. While that sucks one of the reasons is that there are so few female cinematographers at the top. The percentage is actually worse than female directors.

According to Martha Lauzen's Celluloid Ceiling study, women make up only 2% of cinematographers on the top 250 grossing films (2007.)


But it looks like this year we might break the jinx at least for a nomination. Both Maryse Alberti for The Wrestler and Mandy Walker for Australia are getting noticed for their work.

From a recent LA Times piece:

Alberti and Walker agree that gender has not affected their success, and, while women are rare in their field, their work has been judged on merit. Walker says that while "absolutely there would be something special" about being the first woman to win an Oscar for cinematography, she doesn't dwell on being in a male-dominated profession. "I actually never think about it until someone asks me the question," she says. "I just feel that I'm employed because I'm good at my job. I never took it on as a gender issue."

While Alberti concurs, she admits at the beginning of her career there was sometimes the question of, "Can the little lady handle the big lights?" But she quickly formed a pragmatic comeback that proves success as a DP is more about brains than brawn. "I had to say, 'The little lady doesn't carry the big lights,' " she recalls with a laugh. "She points and the big guys carry the lights."
A female cinematographer may vie for Oscar (LA Times)

SWSX Goes to the Boys

Guess I shouldn't be surprised by this by the opening night of South by Southwest next March is the latest version of a Judd Apatow comedy, I Love You, Man where Paul Rudd (who I love) goes on man dates to find a best man for his wedding since he has no real guy friends. The trailer even has a fart joke -- that's how mature this is. Does a mainstream film like this really need a film festival to kick off its release?

SWSX has become a big deal in film festivals recently...but I would hope this is not an indication of the rest of the films to be screened.

Directing News

British actress Samantha Morton is making her TV directorial debut with "The Unloved," about a girl growing up in a children's home, for U.K. broadcaster Channel 4. (Variety)

Rinko Kikuchi and Sergi Lopez will star in Isabel Coixet's "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," the Spanish director's follow-up to Penelope Cruz starrer "Elegy." "Map" based on an original screenplay by Coixet is about a solitary young Japanese woman who works in a fish market at night and occasionally as a hired killer. She's contracted to assassinate a Spanish man, who's blamed for the suicide of a rich businessman's daughter. Meanwhile, a sound engineer, who's fascinated by the woman and the sounds of Tokyo, tracks the girl through the city. (Variety)

Betty Thomas has signed on to direct "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel," a follow-up to the surprise 2007 hit featuring the lovable CGI-animated singing rodents.

Helen Hunt will helm a 60-second snack food commercial for Frito-Lay, set to air during the Feb. 22 Oscar telecast. The actress will direct a short film of the most inspiring entry in a story contest for the company's True North snacks. Frito-Lay will also pay the winner $25,000. Stories will focus on how the author or someone the author knows is pursuing a life's passion. (Variety)

December 18, 2008

Female Critics Groups Weigh In on Awards

Both the Women's Film Critics Circle (of which I am a member) and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists gave out their awards and surprise, some are quite different from the other lists.

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 47 women film critics and scholars from around the country, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. They came together five years ago to form the first women critics organization ever in the country, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in the country by far, and best reflecting the diversity of movie audiences.

The Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2008


Frozen River

BEST STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
Jennifer Lumet: Rachel Getting Married

Melissa Leo: Frozen River

Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler

Abigail Breslin: Kit Kittredge and Definitely Maybe

Sally Hawkins: Happy-Go-Lucky
Meryl Streep: Mamma Mia!

I've Loved You So Long

The Secret Life Of Bees

How The Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer

Nothing But The Truth

Cadillac Records



Meryl Streep


**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women:

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America:

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity:
Battle In Seattle

Deidra Edwards in DisFigured: For redefining conventional standards of female physical beauty and pride on screen, and promoting positive images of big bodied women.


A Walk To Beautiful: Mary Olive Smith

Wings Of Defeat: Risa Morimoto

Traces Of The Trade: Katrina Browne

Aaron Eckhart: Towelhead
Sam Rockwell: Choke
Larry Bishop: Hell Ride
Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott: Role Models
Jason Mewes: Zack And Miri Make a Porno

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired
House Of The Sleeping Beauties
The Women
The Life Before Her Eyes
The Hottie and the No ttie
Savage Grace
Made Of Honor
The Family That Preys
Zack And Miri Make A Porno

**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower20rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD; The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for f emale stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

Alliance of Women Film Journalists


Best Film
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Direction
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Screenplay Original
Wall-E - Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon

Best Screenplay Adapted
Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan

Best Documentary (Tie)
Man On Wire - James Marsh
Trouble The Water - Tia Lessen, Carl Deal

Best Actress (Tie)
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
Kate Winslet - The Reader and Revolutionary Road

Best Actress In Supporting Role
Viola Davis - Doubt

Best Actor
Sean Penn - Milk

Best Actor in Supporting Role
Heath Ledger - Dark Knight

Best Ensemble Cast
Rachel Getting Married

Best Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

Best Foreign Film
Tell No One


Best Woman Director
Courtney Hunt - Frozen River

Best Woman Screenwriter
Jenny Lumet - Rachel Getting Married

Best Breakthrough Performance
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky

Best Newcomer
Misty Upham - Frozen River

Women’s Image Award
Kristin Scott Thomas

Hanging in There Award for Persistence
Melissa Leo - Frozen River

Actress Defying Age and Ageism
Catherine Deneuve - A Christmas Tale

2008 Outstanding Achievement By A Woman In The Film Industry
Sheila Nevins, Producing/Programming at HBO

Lifetime Achievement Award
Catherine Deneuve

AWFJ Award For Humanitarian Activism
All of the Women in Pray The Devil Back To Hell


AWFJ Hall Of Shame Award
27 Dresses

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Kate Hudson

Movie You Wanted To Love But Just Couldn‘t (Tie)
Mamma Mia!
The Women

Best Of The Fests

Unforgettable Moment Award (Tie)
Dark Knight: Joker’s first scene
Slumdog Millionaire: Young Jamal jumps into the poop

Best Depiction Of Nudity or Sexuality (Tie)
The Reader

Best Seduction
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made Award (Tie)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Saw V

The Remake That Shouldn’t Have Been Made Award:
The Women

Cultural Crossover Award
Slumdog Millionaire

Bravest Performance Award
Mickey Rourke - The Wrester

Best Leap from Actress to Director Award
Helen Hunt - Then She Found Me

Most Egregious Age Difference Between Leading Man and Love Interest
The Wackness - Ben Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen


  • Kathleen Turner has joined the cast of the Off Broadway play “The Third Story” by Charles Busch, in which she will appear with Mr. Busch, who plays the show’s other female lead. Show will begin preview performances at the Lucille Lortel Theater on Jan. 14 and open on Feb. 2, continuing through Feb. 28. (NY Times)
  • Kristen Stewart is set to portray Joan Jett in "The Runaways," the rock 'n' roll biopic of the 1970s all-girl band. Video director Floria Sigismondi wrote the screenplay and is directing. Jett will serve as an executive producer.
  • Janet McTeer and Nathalie Press will star in “The Sea Change,” a $600,000 budgeted British family drama set on the remote Isle of Mull, Scotland. Pic will be co-directed by, Brek Taylor and Elizabeth Mitchell. Clare Tinsley produces. (Variety)
  • Twentieth Century Fox has acquired screen rights to Adena Halpern's novel "The Ten Best Days of My Life" and will develop it as a star vehicle for Amy Adams. Adams will play a woman who dies and goes to heaven but is in danger of being demoted to a lower level of paradise unless she can prove herself by recounting her 10 best days. (Variety)
  • Patricia Heaton is set for the lead role, in ABC's pilot about a middle-class Midwestern The Middle a family comedy as seen from the mother's perspective.(HR)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Keira Knightley

For being the new face of an Amnesty International human rights campaign.

"I wanted to be part of this film for Amnesty to help raise awareness of the UDHR and to help them, in a small way, to campaign against the abuses of human rights that are still happening every day. It seems that ‘human rights’ has become a bit of a loaded term in this country, but if you look at the declaration that countries made 60 years ago, it just sets out a series of basic rules about how people should treat each other. The UDHR is something that everyone should be aware of and be proud of as a statement of our common humanity."
Keira Knightly is New Face of Amnesty International (Hollyscoop)
photo: People

December 17, 2008

Looking for Some Music Done by Women Over 45?

It seems that the music business like other forms of entertainment are dominated by the young ones.

Pop Matters takes a look at the best music released this year from women over 45. Support these artists.

America’s hyper-obsession with youth has taken over the music charts. This is especially true if you are female. The adage in the music industry now is that if a woman doesn’t have a hit by the time she’s 22 years old, she should probably look for another career.

That’s obviously a load of blarney. There are a multitude of great female artists making great music who are more than twice that age. These women are not on a comeback, have not matured or ripened, or whatever other cliché one might use. For the most part, they have had consistently strong careers full of wonderful recordings and have kept on making great records.
Here's the list:
Sam Phillips
Joan Baez
Bonnie Bramlett
Carlene Carter
Kathy Mattea
Aimee Mann
Phoebe Snow
Emmylou Harris
Patti Labelle
Juana Molina

Learn more about these women. In Praise of Older Women: The Best Records of 2008 by Women 45 Years Old and Over (Pop Matters)

Mamma Mia Sinks Titanic

The musical Mamma Mia! (dismissed by most critics but beloved by filmgoers) has shattered the long standing British box office record held by Titanic. It has become the "highest grossing release of all time at the British box office according to Variety."

It also opened at #1 in 15 countries. It has grossed over $143 million dollars in the US and $427 million worldwide. That's over half a billion dollars. Amazing.

Congrats to all the women behind Mamma Mia!.

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Liv Ullmann

For standing up for women and children in 20 years of work with the UN Commission on Refugee and Children (which she helped found).

Here's some quotes from recent op-ed Ullmann wrote in the Boston Globe:

AS THE global financial and economic crisis continues to throw countless numbers of people out of work, millions of refugee women and girls in developing countries continue to toil at a task that is not only arduous but extremely dangerous: collecting firewood to cook meals for their families.

For thousands of these impoverished women and girls, gathering firewood is more than a vital chore - it is often a matter of life and death. By doing what many of us achieve by simply turning on a stove, refugee women and girls regularly fall victim to rape, assault, theft, exploitation, and even murder.
Happy 70th birthday!

Making life safer for refugee women
(Boston Globe)

Hat Tip: Green Cine Daily

December 16, 2008

Equality Watch: Movie Script Contest

via the folks at Broad Humor

The 2008 Movie Script Contest announced its winners, and out of the 24 finalists, three were women. And of the winners - zip, nada, zero. Out of eight comedy screenplay finalists, the only woman was at the bottom with an honorable mention.

As someone who reads a ton of scripts every year, I can tell you women write great and funny films...In general (with all the pitfalls of generalizations) women structure their comedies differently, both in the relationship of the world to the characters and in the manner of the climactic payoff(s).
I wish it wasn't such a bad thing that women write and structure their work differently. It should be embraced. We are different and our experiences should not be construed as "less than", but different. So many stories are not not being told. Sigh.
Movie Script Contest Announces Winners

Equality Watch: Hollywood Report and Variety Hold Conversations and Leave Women Out

This stuff makes me so mad. I just don't understand how stories can be written in 2008 where all the people quoted and talked to are guys.

But both the Hollywood Reporter and Variety ran pieces last week that did just that.

Variety had a piece Vet Critics Adapt to Challenging Times where they talked to veteran film critics about the decimation of their ranks. So we have the opinions of worthy men like Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Joe Morgenstern and Kenneth Turan, but no women. It's true that women make up only 30% of the critics according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film but doesn't that make it even more important to have women's voices in these discussions?

The Hollywood Reporter did a round table with several directors whose films are getting notice this season and again ALL WERE MEN including: Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant and Edward Zwick. Both Kelly Reichardt and Courtney Hunt could easily have been included in the conversation.

Shame on both publications!

Vet critics adapt to challenging times (Variety)
Hollywood directors weigh truths, risks (Hollywood Reporter via Yahoo)

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Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Patricia Cornwell

For 20 years of Kay Scarpetta one of the great female characters in crime fiction and for standing up for gay marriage.

"Maybe it is a function of getting older but I think it is important to stand up and be counted. When you're not in a relationship your sexual orientation is more theoretical but it becomes more real when you are with somebody and you are not going to hide that."
Author Patricia Cornwell speaks out for gay marriage (Reuters)

December 15, 2008

New Director Announced for Twilight Sequel -- Shocker -- It's a Guy

In order to begin pre-production on New Moon the Twilight sequel like this week, Summit has engaged Chris Weitz, the good friend of one its top executives to take on the New Moon directing gig. It's no matter that Weitz was box office poison less than a year ago with the release of The Golden Compass which tanked here in the US (but made a little over $300 million overseas.)

So again, Hollywood gives us an example of a man failing upwards.

I have nothing against Weitz, I liked About a Boy and The Golden Compass but we all know he got the gig because his buddy is the head of production at Summit and they had to close the deal fast. Oh and of course they don't have to worry about him being "irrational" and "difficult" because only women directors are difficult and irrational. What a joke.

They got Stephenie Meyer to put a statement of support for Weitz on her website, but to me it read like a love letter to Hardwicke. Weitz also sent a letter out to fans asking for their support. Guess this could be a moment where the fans could push back and say no, if this matters at all to them. It seems that it matters more to the people who follow film than the people who follow the Twilight series.

“Like you, I’m sad that Catherine is not continuing on with us for New Moon. I’m going to miss her, not just as a brilliant director, but also as a friend. She has such a distinct, authentic voice that did amazing things for Twilight. I’m looking forward to every movie she does in the future. And she didn’t leave us empty handed. We still get the benefits of her amazing casting and the beautiful visual world she created. This foundation puts us in a good place for New Moon.”
To me, this is just bad news for women directors. Here was a real opportunity to show that a woman could helm a lucrative franchise (which just went over the $150 million mark here) and it's gone.

Twilight Author Stephanie Meyer Speaks on Hardwicke’s Departure and New Moon Director Chris Weitz (/Film)
Chris Weitz to direct 'Twilight' sequel (Variety)

The New Adventures of Old Christine, Hysterical and Politically Relevant

I hope you've been watching The New Adventures of Old Christine on Wednesday nights on CBS. The show is incredibly funny and is on the cutting edge of political humor, especially dealing with gay rights. Last week's episode was so over the top funny and politically relevant with the passage of Prop 8. The episode co-starred Megan Mullally as a representative of the "Bloom" company which tried to shut down Christine's gym because she is in a gay marriage to Wanda Sykes. The ensuing hilarity was over the top funny.

So props go to Kari Lizer the creator and showrunner and to Julia Louis Dreyfus and Wanda Sykes and the rest of the awesome cast for being so funny, so smart and so relevant.

'The New Adventures of Old Christine': The new 'Will & Grace'? (EW)

Women Over 55 Are Invisible on British TV

So said broadcaster and writer Dame Joan Bakewell. She has been given a job by the British government to advocate for older people on TV and spoke out after the settlement of a lawsuit by Selina Scott who at 57 was passed over for covering the maternity leave for Five News host Natasha Kaplinsky. Clearly, there was age discrimination since they gave her a settlement of 250,000 pounds.

"[Older women] tell me they feel invisible and they literally are invisible on television.

"We need to do something about that because television represents such a picture of who we are as a community."
Women over 55 'invisible on TV' (BBC)
Thinking man's Dame: Joan Bakewell honoured by Queen for services to broadcasting Daily Mail

First Women to Chair Arts Council in England

I can't believe we are still in an era of firsts for women, but we are. According to the Guardian, Dame Liz Forgan will be named the first female chair of the Arts Council of Britain, one of the most powerful jobs in the arts.

"Forgan, an already influential figure, began as a journalist and was the Guardian's women's editor in the late 1970s before she went into broadcasting management. She became director of programmes at Channel 4 before joining the BBC in charge of radio, helping to set up Radio 5. She recently stepped down as chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. In 2003 she was named chairwoman of the Scott Trust, the sole shareholder of the Guardian."
Dame Liz Forgan will be first woman to chair Arts Council (The Guardian)

December 12, 2008

Review: Doubt

Sister Aloysius Beauvier likes order, clarity and keeping things just the way they are because that is how she controls the students and her fellow nuns at the St. Nicholas school in the Bronx. Problem is the world is changing around her in ways she has no control over. It's 1964 and the culture as well as the church are shedding the 50s much to Sister Aloysius' dismay. The parish priest (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is trying to make the church friendlier and more nurturing and that brings him in direct conflict with Sister Aloysius (played by Meryl Streep.)

Their conflict is emblematic of the changing culture not only in the church but, between men and women. Women in the church at that time (at least in the movie) wore habits that were restricting in many ways including not giving them the ability to see all that was happening around them -- literally and figuratively. They could only see straight ahead and with no peripheral vision you miss many of the nuances of life. Father Flynn wants to be loved by his flock because he is already respected as a priest. Sister Aloysius has no need to be loved, she wants to be respected, and demands that respect through discipline and order.

When young Sister James (played by Amy Adams) observes an overly friendly and potentially inappropriate relationship between Father Flynn and the school's first black student, Sister Aloysius immediately moves forward to confront the priest. His explanation is sketchy, yet there is no evidence. She only has the "certainty of my convictions."

But nothing is certain and that more than anything is what stands out in the film.

The question of the potential abuse of the boy sometimes gets lost in the power struggle between good and evil between right and wrong between the past and the future in the wordy battles of Hoffman and Streep. But the question, did Father Flynn abuse Donald is never answered leaving that up to the viewer which is a bold and necessary decision.

Viola Davis gives a breathtaking performance as the mother of the potentially abused boy. Class and race issues are thrown into the conflict as Davis' Mrs. Miller implores Streep's sister Aloyisus to help her son get through the school year so that he can have a future. She unhesitatingly chooses Father Flynn and what he might be doing to her son over the persistent beatings he receives from his father. In that one scene, Mrs. Miller leaves Sister Aloyisus shaken to her core.

The thing about Doubt as a film is that because it is so focused on the words you really need to concentrate to get everything. It is the type of movie that I enjoyed better on my second viewing because I was able to fill in some of the pieces that I missed the first time out. Streep is great as always as Sister Aloyisus, but I was disappointed with Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Amy Adams again proves that she can hold her own, but her part, though pivotal, is small. It will leave you thinking, talking and questioning which is what I loved about it.

Check out the trailer:

What the Hell is a Co-Director Anyway?

Slumdog Millionaire is the feel good movie of the season. It's generating a lot of good reviews, great word of mouth, award nominations and award wins. Critic and blogger and all around expert on things women and film, Jan Lisa Huttner has raised a question about the directing credits on Slumdog Millionaire that is worthy of further conversation.

If you look at imdb (the film data bible), Danny Boyle is the director and right below his name it lists Loveleen Tanden as co-director (India- where the whole film was shot). So the question that Jan is rightly posing is, if you are a co-director should you also be nominated when the director is? And, what is a co-director and how does that credit come about?

If you look back to last year's Academy Awards nominations the Coen Brothers are both given a directed by credit (and won) for No Country for Old Men. And in 2006 Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are also both given directed by credits for Little Miss Sunshine. Both of those teams have worked together as teams for years. That's just how they do their work.

Jan pointed me to the film City of God which was directed by Fernando Meirelles and also has a co-director Katia Lund listed. The film did very well in the 2002-2003 cycle winning numerous awards at film festivals and in getting nominations from the major awards organizations. While Meirelles alone won numerous awards for his directing, there are two instances -- the AFI audience award and the Washington DC Area Film Critics association -- which gave the award to both Meirelles and Lund.

The point is that awards and nominations matter A LOT. Think of the the career that Meirelles has had since his nomination. He has directed The Constant Gardener and Blindness which won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival. Talent aside, think he would have gotten those gigs had he not been nominated for a foreign film like City of God? No way. What would it have meant to Katia Lund's career had she been acknowledged in some way as the co-director of City of God? We'll never know.

But, since I don't know how credits are negotiated and it looks like festivals and critics kudos all have different rules its hard to 100% say that Loveleen Tanden is not getting her due because she is a woman. Tanden is very supportive of the film and has been on the press tour with Boyle and others. And, Huttner spoke with Boyle about the issue and he was very complimentary of her work.

Since women have such a hard time breaking into the directing ranks at the top level -- only three women have ever been nominated for an Oscar for directing -- this is a really interesting conversation to be having this year when women's films have been so successful at the box office.

Yesterday, Slumdog scored Golden Globe directing nomination. Jan Lisa Huttner is requesting that people send a letter to the HFPA asking them to add Tandan's name as co-director to the nomination. Get the letter here. I'd love to understand what the hell is a co-director and if women get put into the co-director position more easily than men.

Meryl Streep Makes Golden Globe History

With her nominations for Doubt and Mamma Mia!, Streep becomes the most nominated actor with 23 nominations. She has six wins (which ties her with Jack Nicholson).

'Mamma Mia!' — No 'Doubt' Meryl Streep makes Golden Globe history (LA Times)
photo: Sylvain Gaboury/PR Photos

December 11, 2008

Women & Hollywood on ABC

ABC News ran a story on the canning of Catherine Hardwicke which quoted me. Check it out:

"She's done exactly what Hollywood said we have to do as women -- delivered a successful box office movie," Melissa Silverstein, who runs the blog Women & Hollywood, told "It does not add up."

Silverstein wrote a blog about Hardwicke's departure under the headline: "What Does a $70 Million Opening Weekend Get Catherine Hardwicke? Fired."

But some industry watchers question whether Hardwicke was treated fairly. After one blog quoted a Summit insider as saying Hardwicke was "difficult" and at times "irrational," Silverstein shot back, "Why don't you just call her 'bitch?'"

"It's a boy's town," Silverstein said. "Directing is the ultimate job. You are the king, you tell people what to do and you're in charge. And there's a very small list of men who are on it. Here's a woman who made it on the list. She worked her butt off, achieved a big box office success and has been summarily kicked off the list."
Read the full piece: Why Was 'Twilight' Director Axed From Sequel?
Also check up this EW update piece about the situation. It just gets stranger.

The Life of a Female Theatre Director

Directing on Broadway is still a boys club just like it is in Hollywood. If you are doing a new play you need to have one of the guys in the club like Michael Mayer, Scott Ellis, Doug Hughes, or Joe Montello to direct your play. What I hear from a friend who is a playwright is that most theatres won't consider a woman to direct. Anna D. Shapiro broke into the club with her Tony win for August Osage County but she is happy at Steppenwolf in Chicago and don't think she will be working in NY regularly.

One female director who has gotten close to Broadway -- with Theresa Rebeck's play The Scene at Second Stage -- is Rebecca Taichman, a Yale educated director who works a lot outside of NY, especially in DC where she is spending two years as associate artistic director at the Wholly Mammouth Theatre. Her credits there include Sarah Ruhl's Pulitzer Prize winning play The Clean House before it made it to Lincoln Center (with a male director.)

The Washington Post just did a profile on her in conjunction with her new production of The Taming of the Shrew. There's no denying that she's busy but

Although she has been keeping a healthy presence in Washington, the freelance directing life is taking Taichman around the globe. "Twelfth Night" moves to New Jersey's McCarter Theatre after its run here (Taichman is working on a new musical there), then she heads to San Francisco for Edward Albee "At Home at the Zoo" (previously known as "Peter and Jerry"). After that it's off to East Africa under the auspices of the Sundance Institute; Taichman is collaborating with a Rwandan artist she met during a Sundance residency last summer.

Long-range, she rules out nothing, proclaiming an interest in everything from new plays to classical tragedies to Broadway larks. Especially Broadway larks.

Here's a woman with a ton of credits yet Broadway still eludes her. Is this common? Check out this three year old piece from the NY Times on the lack of women directors on Broadway:
OF the 39 plays and musicals that opened on Broadway this year, 3 were directed by women (a husband-and-wife team directed a fourth, the short-lived "Blonde in the Thunderbird"). Of the 34 new shows in 2004, women directed 2. These are not particularly encouraging figures for those looking for the new female directorial voices. Many women can be found directing shows off Broadway and running regional theaters, but the best-known and biggest-budget venue has not been all that welcoming.
photo: Dominic Braccoli/Washington Post

Remember This Name: Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kazan is a young woman with a unique pedigree. Her grandfather was Elia Kazan, the director. Her dad is the screenwriter, Nicholas Kazan and her mom is screenwriter/director Robin Swicord.

That's a lot to live up to. But she has. Seriously.

She made her Broadway debut last year in Come Back, Little Sheba and she blew me away as Masha in current Broadway production of The Seagull that stars Peter Saarsgard and Kristin Scott Thomas. She's also in the upcoming Revolutionary Road. But to top it off she has clearly inherited the writing talent of her parents. Her first play, Absalom has been accepted into the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays.

All this and she just turned 25.

December 10, 2008

The Girlywood Invasion

Nightline did a short piece on the successful female centric movies that came out this year asking if these films will finally get Hollywood focused on any other audience besides the 18-24 year old boys.

Readers of this blog won't learn anything new. The piece was fine (but too short and didn't get into any of the deeper issues as to why so few movies about women are made.) It laid out the successes all the way back to Titanic and The Princess Diaries. But I hate the title. The Girlywood Invasion. We are not invading anything. We just want some movies about women. Condescending.

Watch the piece through the link below (it's less than 4 minutes)
The Girlywood Invasion

Hat tip to Beverly Wettenstein for the heads up

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Oprah Winfrey

Less than a week after being named the most powerful woman in Hollywood, Oprah uses her power to talk about the issue that has plagued her all of her life -- her weight. In a world obsessed with thinness (especially in Hollywood) Oprah shows you can be powerful and not thin. As a person who is involved in that daily struggle, her honesty about "falling off the wagon" makes me love her even more.

Oprah: I Weigh 200 Pounds (AP via CBS)

Review: Wendy and Lucy

Kelly Reichardt wants to make small, intimate films about people and their lives who most of the world ignores. That's not exactly the formula for a hit movie. But Reichardt could care less and I find that impressive. Wendy and Lucy is not going to break any box office records, but it's going to break some hearts, especially dog lovers like me. Michelle Williams stars as Wendy, a young woman (we really don't know her age) driving herself and her dog to Alaska in her beat up car in search of a job at a cannery. That's not exactly the pursuit of the "American dream." But Wendy is a symbol of how people just trying to do the right thing still fall through the cracks. She doesn't have a lot of options and the best one she sees is to drive thousands of miles for a potential job that will probably be physically taxing and difficult.

This film has become even more relevant in our economic meltdown. It's like the news that you can't avoid on TV and newspapers has come to life. And it's not pretty. Wendy's only companion is Lucy, her dog. People will do anything for their dogs (I know that for a fact) and when Wendy shoplifts some dog food she gets arrested. After spending several hours in jail and having to pay a fine with some of the little money she has left, she returns to the store to find her dog gone. Of course, nobody has seen anything. To top it off, her car is dead and being off the grid she has no cell phone and no support system. Her dog is all she has keeping her together. The rest of the movie is a search for Lucy with absolutely no resources, except for an borrowed cell phone from a security guard who takes pity on her. Her vulnerability continues to grow and becomes more palpable. You feel scared for her especially when she winds up sleeping in the woods and gets robbed. She is all alone in the woods in the middle of the night with someone rooting around through her stuff. Scary.

It's really amazing how far Michelle Williams has come from her days on Dawson's Creek. She's got some serious talent. She is onscreen for practically every second and sucks you into her plight. The film was made on a minuscule budget in 15 days. But it works and it makes you think. This is a movie that I am excited to see again. What's also exciting is the talent and vision of director Kelly Reichardt who is a clear auteur (a word I don't use lightly.) She's unafraid and actually embraces silence which is quite bold compared with other movies in this day and age.

Wendy and Lucy opens in NY today, LA on Friday, and will roll out across the country over the next couple of months. Here's info on where it will be playing.

The Women & Hollywood film club will be seeing the film together in NY this Saturday at 4:30. Here are details.

Check out the trailer:

Other info:
Kelly Reichardt, director of WENDY AND LUCY, Interview (Spout)
An Actress Moves On, Or Tries To (Newsweek)

December 9, 2008

Blaming Nicole Kidman

I take offense to two harsh pieces about Nicole Kidman's box office prowess (or lack thereof) in the LA Times and The Guardian. The titles are even inflammatory- The Guardian: Nicole Kidman is queen of the flops; LA Times: Nicole Kidman: Movie star or box-office loser? Let's be honest, Australia has some good things in it, but it is not a good movie. It just doesn't work. That is Baz Lurhmann's fault, not Kidman's. While her performance was way too stiff in the beginning, she, and her character relaxed and I wound up enjoyed her and Hugh Jackman. But the story was dreadful, and again that is not her fault.

Has anyone taken the time to write about Hugh Jackman's box office issues? He's made a bunch of duds (Deception, The Fountain) but is a star (and the Sexiest Man according to People Magazine) because of the X-Men franchise. Get a guy a franchise and and he's a star. Women have a harder time being franchise players. For example Halle Berry. No one is going to make a movie about her X-Men character, but they sure did make a movie about Wolverine.

It's strange that there are a bunch of articles written about Nicole Kidman as a box office star when we don't get articles like that for women like Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and until recently Meryl Streep. They are just fantastic actresses.

Kidman really has never been a box office star on her own (and I would venture to say that she could care less about it) but she for some reason has been painted with this brush. Is it because she was married to Tom Cruise or that she was in a Batman movie? The films she took that are supposed to be commercial have sucked (Bewitched, The Stepford Wives). Her non-commercial ones are better. However, I couldn't get through Fur, (as I couldn't get through Jackman's The Fountain) but liked Birth and Margot at the Wedding a lot. Her most recent "flop" before Australia, The Golden Compass made $70 million in the US but over $300 million overseas which is a big deal since the story was about a girl. (God forbid she should get any credit for that, she only gets blamed for the flops.)

But most importantly, Kidman is just emblematic of the obsession with opening weekend dollars and how women still can't rate compared to the guys. Instead of blaming the actresses why don't we figure out a way for them to be successful?

From Patrick Goldstein at the LA Times: What's really depressing is that when you ask marketing execs to name the actresses that do earn their keep, you're usually met with silence. There are always caveats: Meryl Streep in the right role, as with "Mamma Mia!" Angelina Jolie, who can put some extra oomph in a genre film like "Wanted." Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock in the right kind of comedy. In today's Hollywood, it's a lot easier to build a career as a respected actress than as a box-office icon. Whether you're Nicole Kidman or anyone else, it's a man's, man's, man's world.
No wonder she talks about quitting acting. She can't do anything right. I for one will keep pulling for her simply because her performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours was breathtaking and I am hopeful she has a couple of more of those inside her.

photo: Insodefoto/PR Photos

More Love for Tina and Rachel

I know we don't have a woman president (I am I'm kind of over that) but aside from Barack and Michelle Obama, the other most interesting stories this fall have been about women especially Tina Fey, Rachel Maddow and Katie Couric (btw love the new hair Katie).

Tina and Rachel have been everywhere. The latest love for these two women is in Vanity Fair and Newsweek. A common through line in both pieces is how they are outsiders which I found so interesting and endearing and probably why I like them so much. Most of the comments about the Fey Vanity Fair piece has been about how she got her scar and weight loss (Yeah Weight Watchers!- you should sign her up as a spokesperson!) but here are some other interesting tidbits that intrigued me.

Fey’s friend Kay Cannon, a 30 Rock writer, says that Tina has remained self-deprecating even as she has glammed up. “She’ll always see herself as that other, the thing she came from.”
Fey’s acerbity comes from her mother (the Greek side), who has what Richmond calls “drag-queen humor—that bitter, extremely caustic kind of stab-you-in-the-heart humor.” Mrs. Fey played a weekly poker game with her friends. “I loved hanging out with the ladies, because they were very funny, and a little bit mean, and had lots of Entenmann’s products,” Fey says.

Her friend Damian Holbrook, a TV Guide writer who attended a nearby high school and whose first name she took for the gay character in Mean Girls, says she was like the Janis character in that movie, the sweet girl in an oversize Shaker sweater who didn’t run with the cool crowd or strut around to get guys, yet had the wit to burn the mean girls if she wanted to.
She didn’t have great athletic ability but played tennis, and, citing Kay Cannon, says that team sports breed “a different kind of woman,” with a “game-on, let’s-do-it work ethic”; she hopes her daughter will grow up to play sports.

And Maddow in Newsweek
All the ensuing hype and excitement about Maddow's rapid rise, and her quirks—the smart, self-described "butch dyke" who somehow broke into the cable-news boys' club—has masked the true reason for her success. It's not despite her differences from other talking heads, but because of them.
Maddow seems to have genuinely charmed younger viewers, a Twitter-savvy, podcasting generation that has hankered for someone more like them and delights in her use of "duh," her obvious intelligence and authenticity, and her ability to be both idealistic and skeptical about politics. She eschews vanity and insists she won't stop dressing "like a 13-year-old boy" when she can.
Maddow's partner, artist Susan Mikula, believes the "unlikely" label is just code for lesbian: "She goes from Stanford to Oxford to activism to radio, then TV? What's so unusual about that? Is it because she is a gay lady?"
The reason she and Mikula stay happily unmarried, says Mikula, is because "we both have a real fondness for the outsider part of our gay culture."
What Tina Wants (Vanity Fair)
When Left is Right (Newsweek)

December 8, 2008

Female Actresses Still Make Less Money Than the Guys

No shocker here. Women earn less than men and everyone earns less than Will Smith. The Hollywood Reporter unveiled it's annual salary report in conjunction with the power list.

Here are the top money making women:

  • Angelina Jolie- gets $15 million per picture and is also getting backend gross points.
  • Julia Roberts- she's back and earning $15 million for Duplicity.
  • Reese Witherspoon- $14 million for Four Christmases
  • Cameron Diaz- Was making $15 million, she made $10 million for What Happens in Vegas
  • Katherine Heigl- one of the only women who is a TV and movie star. She made $6 million and 6% of the backend for the upcoming The Ugly Truth and makes $225,000 per episode for having sex with a ghost on Grey's Anatomy.
  • Kate Hudson- I still can't believe that people are still giving this woman jobs. She made $7 million for the upcoming Bride Wars (saw a preview yesterday and it is so offensive).
  • Anne Hathaway- Made $5 million for Bride Wars (please tell me how she made less than Kate Hudson?) and now could get $8 million of the great reviews and possible Oscar nomination for Rachel Getting Married.
  • Jennifer Aniston- Made $8 million for the family comedy Marley & Me.

Here's the list from last year
1. Reese Witherspoon -- $15 million-$20 million
2. Angelina Jolie -- $15 million-$20 million
3. Cameron Diaz -- $15+ million
4. Nicole Kidman -- $10 million-$15 million
5. Renee Zellweger -- $10 million-$15 million
6. Sandra Bullock -- $10 million-$15 million
7. Julia Roberts -- $10 million-$15 million
8. Drew Barrymore -- $10 million-$12 million
9. Jodie Foster -- $10 million-$12 million
10. Halle Berry -- $10 million

What Does a $70 Million Opening Weekend Get Catherine Hardwicke? Fired.

The press release was sent out yesterday afternoon. Catherine Hardwicke, will not be directing the sequel to Twilight which Summit wants to have in the theatres by the end of next year or at the latest in early 2010. The release said that Hardwicke passed on the project due to "timing issues" because she wanted more prep time to work on the script which scribe Melissa Rosenberg turned in on opening weekend. Summit wants to film sooner rather than later.

Nikki Finke is reporting that Hardwicke was actually fired because she was "difficult" and "irrational." Geez, they just should have called her a bitch and been done with it.

Who knows what the real story is, probably somewhere in the middle, but this rubs me the wrong way. First, the film is opening all over the world and Hardwicke is currently in Europe promoting the film. Awkward.

Second, I can't help but think that a guy director who has brought in over $140 million on a budget of under $40 million would be treated differently. Hardwicke did everything she was supposed to do, that every director dreams of doing, directing a big box office success. (The film will probably turn out to be in the top 10 domestic grossers of the year.)

Everyone keeps saying the power job is the director and that having more women directors show box office prowess will open up the directing ranks. Guess not. Just goes to show that the gender issues are just much deeper than anyone is willing to discuss.

No Hardwicke for 'Twilight' sequel (Variety)

Seen and Heard at the Power Breakfast 2008

(Amy) Pascal, when asked what she'd like to change in the industry:
"I wish all of us would be a little braver. I wish all of us would make the movies that made us get in the business. I don't think I always do that. And that’s what I'd like to do."

Amen, Amy. you have the power, now do it.

December 5, 2008

Sexist Image of the Day: Variety's Best Director Contenders

Variety has a feature in today's paper that focuses on the best director candidates. The top tier a re called "THE GENERALS" - ie: battle tested vets. Of course, not a single one of the vets is a woman. The next tier down "IN THE MIX" still does not name a single woman. How can they name Lance Hammer and Steve McQueen and not name Courtney Hunt and Kelly Reichardt?

Shame of Variety for using war like and male centric images to describe directors. Do you need to perpetuate the stereotype even more? No wonder no women made it to the list.

Shameful. Send editor in chief Peter Bart an email at (not 100% sure that is his email but give it a shot) and let him know that this is unacceptable. It's also hysterical to me that they put this on the cover of their home page the same day that rival Hollywood Reporter names the top 100 Women in Power in Hollywood.

Power 100 List

It's that time of the year again when Hollywood takes a moment and celebrates the women in its ranks at the Hollywood Reporter annual Power Women Breakfast in conjunction with Lifetime Networks.

I'm waiting for the day when we don't need these kind of events anymore, but we are sooo far away from that. Congrats to all and try to think about helping and supporting other women in your ranks who don't have the kind of power you do.

Here's the list:
1. Oprah Winfrey
Chairman, Harpo Inc.

2. Anne Sweeney
Co-chairman, Disney Media Networks
President, Disney-ABC Television Group

3. Amy Pascal
Co-chairman, Sony Pictures

4. Nancy Tellem
President, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group

5. Stacey Snider
Co-chairman and CEO, DreamWorks

6. Bonnie Hammer
President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Prods.

7. Judy McGrath
Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks

8. Mary Parent
Chairman, MGM Worldwide Motion Picture Group

9. Dana Walden
Chairman, 20th Century Fox Television

10. Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment

11. Donna Langley
President of production, Universal Pictures

12. Nikki Rocco
President of distribution, Universal Pictures

13. Sue Kroll
President of worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures

14. Dawn Ostroff
President of entertainment, the CW

15. Katherine Pope
President, Universal Media Studios

16. Sue Naegle
President, HBO Entertainment

17. Lauren Zalaznick
President, NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks

18. Kathleen Kennedy
Producer/partner, the Kennedy/Marshall Co.

19. Laura Ziskin
President, Laura Ziskin Prods.

20. Veronika Kwan-Rubinek
President of international distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures

21. Andrea Wong
President and CEO, Lifetime Networks

22. Sheila Nevins
President, HBO Documentary Films

23. Shari Redstone
President, National Amusements
Vice chairman of the board of directors, Viacom and CBS Corp.
Co-chairman and co-president,

24. Angelina Jolie

25. Elizabeth Gabler
President, Fox 2000 Pictures

26. Ann Daly
COO, DreamWorks Animation

27. Elisabeth Murdoch
Chairman and CEO, Shine

28. Nancy Utley
COO, Fox Searchlight

29. Emma Watts
Co-president of production, 20th Century Fox

30. Valerie Van Galder
Co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group

31. Pamela Levine
Co-president of domestic theatrical marketing, 20th Century Fox

32. Terry Wood
President of creative affairs and development, CBS Television Distribution

33. Hilary Estey McLoughlin
President, Telepictures Prods.

34. Janice Marinelli
President, Disney-ABC Domestic Television

35. Belinda Menendez
President, NBC Universal International Television Distribution

36. Tyra Banks
President, Bankable Prods.

37. Marion Edwards
President of international television, 20th Century Fox Television Distribution

38. Jessica Reif Cohen
Managing director and media and entertainment analyst, Merrill Lynch

39. Cyma Zarghami
President, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids & Family Group

40. Linda Bell
Blue Executive producer, "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider"

41. Abbe Raven
President and CEO, A&E Television Networks

42. Michele Ganeless
President, Comedy Central

43. Mary McLaren
COO, 20th Century Fox International Theatrical and Home Entertainment

44. Teri Weinberg
Executive vp, NBC Entertainment

45. Eileen O'Neill
President and GM, TLC

46. Debra Lee
Chairman and CEO, BET Networks

47. Cecile Frot-Coutaz
CEO, FremantleMedia North America

48. Amy Baer
President and CEO, CBS Films

49. Paula Kerger
President and CEO, PBS

50. Lynn Calpeter
Executive vp and CFO, NBC Universal

51. Tina Fey
Executive producer/writer/star, "30 Rock" (NBC)

52. Maren Christensen
Executive vp and general counsel, Universal Studios

53. Tracey Jacobs
Board member, partner and co-head of talent department, UTA

54. Kelley Avery
President, Paramount Worldwide Home Entertainment

55. Diane Nelson
President, Warner Premiere

56. Shonda Rhimes
President, Shondaland
Creator/executive producer, "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" (ABC)

57. Nancy Josephson
Partner, Endeavor

58. Claudia Lewis
President of production, Fox Searchlight

59. Beth Swofford
Motion picture literary agent, CAA

60. Jo Ann Ross
President of network sales, CBS Television Network

61. Hylda Queally
Motion picture talent agent, CAA

62. Toni Howard
Head of motion picture talent, ICM

63. Megan Colligan
Co-president of domestic marketing, Paramount Pictures

64. Nancy Dubuc
Executive vp and general manager, History

65. Rachael Ray
TV host/author/magazine founder

66. Lauren Corrao
President of original programming and development, Comedy Central

67. Sharon Sheinwold
Partner, Endeavor

68. Vanessa Morrison
President, Fox Animation

69. Karen Kehela Sherwood
Co-chair, Imagine Films

70. Blair Kohan
Partner and motion picture talent and literary agent, UTA

71. Cynthia Pett-Dante
Owner and managing partner, Brillstein Entertainment Partners

72. Keri Putnam
President of production, Miramax Films

73. Debbie Liebling
President of production, Fox Atomic

74. Leah Weil
Senior executive vp and general counsel, Sony Pictures Entertainment

75. Jane Rosenthal
Producer/ partner, Tribeca Prods.
Co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival

76. Deborah Schindler
President of international motion picture production group, Sony Pictures Entertainment

77. Rebecca Prentice
Executive vp and general counsel, Paramount Pictures

78. Bernardine Brandis
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Walt Disney Studios

79. Randi Michel
Senior vp, head of talent (East Coast), WMA

80. Michelle Bohan
Partner, Endeavor

81. Roberta Reardon
President, AFTRA

82. Melanie Cook
Partner, Ziffren Brittenham Branca Fischer Gilbert-Lurie Stiffelman Cook Johnson Lande & Wolf

83. Jeanne Newman
Partner, Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman Newman Warren & Richman

84. Bridget Baker
President of TV networks distribution, NBC Universal

85. Deborah Barak
Executive vp business affairs, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group

86. Jana Winograde
Executive vp business affairs, ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime and SoapNet

87. Beth Roberts
Executive vp business affairs, digital and new business development, NBC Universal Entertainment

88. Maria Crenna
Executive vp, CBS Paramount Network Television

89. Jennifer Nicholson-Salke
Executive vp creative affairs, 20th Century Fox Television

90. Lisa Gregorian
Executive vp worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Television Group

91. JoAnn Alfano
Executive vp entertainment, Lifetime Networks

92. Marla Provencio
Executive vp marketing, ABC Entertainment

93. Jennifer Rudolph Walsh
Executive vp, co-head of worldwide literary department, WMA

94. Risa Gertner
Co-head of motion picture literary department, CAA

95. Sarah Greenberg
Co-president of theatrical marketing, Lionsgate Entertainment

96. Anne Globe
Worldwide head of marketing and consumer products, DreamWorks Animation

97. Leslie Siebert
Senior managing partner, The Gersh Agency

98. Nicole Clemens
Head of motion picture literary department, ICM

99. Jean Prewitt
President and CEO, Independent Film & Television Alliance

100. Miley Cyrus
Star, "Hannah Montana" (Disney Channel)

Power 100 List (Hollywood Reporter)
photo: Chris Hatcher / PR Photos

Why Wasn't Meryl Streep on the Newsstand Cover of Entertainment Weekly?

I find this very strange (as have several of the readers of the blog.)

When I got my favorite magazine (EW) in the mail this week I was so excited to see Meryl Streep on the cover declaring her the "Queen of Hollywood." We all know that she was always the queen in terms of content but now, at 59, she's a bona fide box office star. Check out my piece from earlier this week.

So now it had come to light that the Streep cover was only sent to subscribers and that Twilight was put on the cover for newsstands. I know that Twilight is a huge hit and I am thrilled, but it had been on the cover only weeks before. Why did it need to be on the cover again?

And isn't it just ironic that the whole story about Streep was how she has become commercially viable and then it turns out that she's not commercial enough for newsstands.

Some body please explain this to me (or as Rachel Maddow would say- somebody talk me down.)

Here are the different covers (from last week- this week features Jennifer Aniston who is not known for her box office prowess):

December 4, 2008

Equality Watch: Women Artists Get Paid Less

I guess this isn't such an important story because I only read about it in one place (good job LA Times), but it is important and should be discussed further. It's hard to make ends meet as an artist, but its harder as a female artist according to the NEA.

The NEA has released a more in-depth look at some of the data in its report “Artists in the Workforce, 1990-2005.” This "addendum" specifically looks at the gender pay gap for artists. Occupations included in the study: announcers, architects, musicians, producers, directors, artists, dancers, choreographers, designers, writers, visual artists, entertainers, performers and photographers.

Said the chairman of the NEA Dana Gioia: "Committed and entrepreneurial, women artists are making enormous progress, but still lag behind their male colleagues economically, especially in fields such as photography, design, and architecture.”

Other interesting findings:

  • Women artists earn $0.75 for every dollar made by men artists. That 2 cents less than the overall gender pay gap which is 77 cents for every male dollar.
  • Pay disparity increases with age.
  • Pay gaps vary by occupation. Men and women had closer earnings parity in lower-paying performing arts occupations (such as musicians and dancers), where women earned an average of $0.92 for every dollar earned by men. The gap tended to be larger in non-performing art occupations (such as designers and art directors), where women earned 72 percent of what men earn.
  • Pay gaps vary by state. The pay disparity was smaller in ten states, such as New York and Arizona, where women made 80 percent or more of what men made. Women made less than 75 percent of what men made in 27 states, including Virginia, Michigan, and North Dakota.

  • Women make up just under half of all artists nationwide (46 percent), yet they are underrepresented in many artist professions. In 2003-2005, nearly 8 out of 10 announcers and architects were men.
  • Women artists are as likely to be married as female workers in general, but they are less likely to have children.
  • Female artists cluster in low-population states. Women made up more than 55 percent of the artist labor force in Iowa, Alaska, New Hampshire and Mississippi in 2003-2005. They represent well below half of all artists in New York (45.8 percent) and in California (42.6 percent).
Women Artists: 1990 - 2005 (December 2008 update)
A gender pay gap for L.A. artists (NYC too) (LA Times)

Holiday Diversion: The Spirited Woman Holiday Guide

Everyone who reads this site (whether you are a man or woman) is spirited in some way. This holiday season I have linked up with Nancy Mills and her site The Spirited Woman (and other women's blogs) to help publicize their Holiday Guide. It's a really cool and non-traditional and very feminist.

As Nancy says: "It is a guide to help you think out of the gift-giving box. Give back. Create change. Take a leap. Make a difference. Inspire others by the fact that you are inspired. And oh yes, have fun along the way. This is not your typical shop-til-you-drop guide. No way. No how."

Check out the guide (you do have to download a pdf) and get some interesting ideas for the holiday season. Hope you enjoy.

The Sundance List

One of the most important days in the indie film world was yesterday, the unveiling of the Sundance Film Fest's competition lists.

For the US dramatic competition 16 films were accepted out of 1,026 submissions. That's about a 1.6% chance of getting picked. Yowsa.

Here are the women directed and women centric films. (Please let me know if I miss anything or get anything wrong)

US Dramatic Competition
Amreeka (Director-screenwriter: Cherien Dabis)
When a divorced Palestinian woman and her teenage son move to rural Illinois, they find their new lives replete with challenges. Cast: Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Alia Shawkat.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (Director-screenwriter: John Krasinski)
When her boyfriend leaves with little explanation, a doctoral candidate in anthropology tries to remedy her heartache by interviewing men about their behavior. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Bobby Cannavale.

Cold Souls (Director-screenwriter: Sophie Barthes)
In the midst of an existential crisis, a famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Lauren Ambrose, Oksana Lada.

The Greatest (Director-screenwriter: Shana Feste)
After the tragic loss of their teenage son, a family is again thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a young woman. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons, Aaron Johnson, Zoe Kravitz.

Humpday (Director-screenwriter: Lynn Shelton)
A farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far. Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard.

Paper Heart (Director: Nicolas Jasenovec)
Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature -- a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets an unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera. Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Nicolas Jasenovec, Jake Johnson.

Push (Based on the Novel by Sapphire) (Director-screenwriter: Lee Daniels)
Based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Sapphire, the film is the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice. Cast: Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo'Nique Imes, Lenny Kravitz.

Toe to Toe (Director-screenwriter: Emily Abt)
The story of an interracial friendship put to the test by the intense pressures of a competitive Washington prep school. Cast: Sonequa Martin, Louisa Krause, Silvestre Rasuk, Anwan Glover, Gaius Charles.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 879 submissions.)

Boy Interrupted (Director: Dana Perry)
An intimate look at the life, mental illness and death of a young man told from the point of view of the filmmaker: his mother.

The General (El General) (Director: Natalia Almada)
As the great-granddaughter of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles, one of Mexico's most controversial revolutionary figures, filmmaker Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (Director: Pamela Yates)
A battle of monumental proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in bringing perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

The September Issue (Director: R.J. Cutler)
With unprecedented access, R.J. Cutler and his crew shot for nine months as they captured Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the "fashion bible" for the year's trends.

Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech (Director: Liz Garbus)
An exploration of the history and current state of free speech in America narrated by the filmmaker's father, First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus.

We Live in Public (Director: Ondi Timoner)
The story of the Internet's revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick Web pioneer Josh Harris and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Directors: Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler)
With clients including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Chicago 10, civil-rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century. Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from movement hero to "the most hated lawyer in America."

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 1,012 submissions.)
Before Tomorrow (Le Jour Avant Lendemain) / Canada (Directors: Madeline Piujuq, Marie-Helene Cousineau)
A wise old woman fights to survive impossible circumstances with her young grandson in the Canadian Arctic. Cast: Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Paul-Dylan Ivalu, Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Mary Qulitalik, Tumasie Sivuarapik. U.S. premiere

Dada's Dance / China (Director: Zhang Yuan; screenwriter: Li Xiaofeng)
Dada is a flirtatious young woman who lives with her mother in a small town. Having to fend off the constant advances of her mother's boyfriend, who tells her she is adopted, she undertakes a journey in search of her birth mother. Cast: Li Xinyun, Li Xiaofeng, Gai Ge, Chen Jun. World premiere

An Education / U.K. (Director: Lone Scherfig; screenwriter: Nick Hornby)
In the early 1960s, a sharp 16-year-old with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks her and her parents. Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson. World premiere

A French Gigolo (Cliente) / France (Director-screenwriter: Josiane Balasko)
An attractive, successful fiftysomething woman regularly treats herself to the sexual services of young men selected on Internet sites. When one particular escort becomes a habit, the relationship gets a bit more complicated. Cast: Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carre, Josiane Balasko. World premiere

Heart of Time (Corazon del Tiempo) / Mexico (Director-screenwriter: Alberto Cortes)
In La Esperanza de San Pedro, Chiapas, in the midst of the Zapatista struggle, a young woman makes serious waves when she falls in love with a revolutionary fighter from the mountains. Cast: Rocio Barrios. North American premiere

Louise-Michel / France (Directors: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern)
When a French factory is abruptly closed by its corrupt management, a group of disgruntled female workers pool their paltry compensation money and hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. Cast: Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners. North American premiere

The Maid (La Nana) / Chile (Director-screenwriter: Sebastian Silva)
When her mistress brings on another servant to help with the chores, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on the household. Cast: Catalina Saavedra, Claudia Celedon, Mariana Loyola, Alejandro Goic, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro. North American premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION (16 films were selected from 744 submissions.)
Afghan Star / Afghanistan and U.K. (Director: Havana Marking)
After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, "Pop Idol" has come to television in Afghanistan -- and millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. North American premiere

The Glass House / U.S. (Director: Hamid Rahmanian)
Follows four teenage girls striving to overcome drug addiction, abandonment and abuse by attending a rehabilitation center in Tehran, Iran. North American premiere

Kimjongilia / France and U.S. (Director: N.C. Heikin)
Defectors from North Korea finally speak out about the terrifying reality of their lives and escapes. World premiere

The Queen and I (Drottningen och jag) / Sweden (Director: Nahid Persson Sarvestani)
Swedish filmmaker Sarvestani, an Iranian exile who helped overthrow the Shah's regime in 1979, confronts her own assumptions and complex truths about Iran when she enters the life of the Shah's widow. World premiere

Quest for Honor / Kurdistan and U.S. (Director: Mary Ann Bruni)
A former teacher and tireless activist works with local lawmen, Kurdish government agencies and her colleagues to investigate and eradicate honor killings in the tribal regions of Kurdistan. World premiere

Rough Aunties / U.K. (Director: Kim Longinotto)
Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the "Rough Aunties" protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. North American premiere

211:Anna / Italy (Directors: Paolo Serbandini, Giovanna Massimetti)
The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human-rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen conflict and President Vladimir Putin. World premiere