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“Whitney. ‘Can I Be Me'” is Nick Broomfield’s documentary about the life and death of Whitney Houston, and it’s the rare Nick Broomfield movie in which the filmmaker isn’t center stage. He co-directed it with Rudi Dolezal, and there isn’t a single scene in which Broomfield, with his puckish, dogged delight in stalking interview subjects, invades a room tailed by a crew member holding a boom mike, thrusting himself into the face of Bobby Brown or Clive Davis or Whitney Houston’s relatives or the maid who cleaned her hotel room the night she died. I’m a fan of Broomfield’s conspiracy-theory music docs (“Biggie & Tupac,” “Kurt & Courtney”), but “Whitney: ‘Can I Be Me'” has no conspiracies to uncover. It just has a story to tell, and it does that incredibly compellingly.
“Can I Be Me” gets us to know Whitney Houston, to feel her »
- Owen Gleiberman
Fasten your seat belts, 2018 is gonna be a glorious year. At least for London theatergoers. Cate Blanchett will star as Margo Channing in a stage adaption of All About Eve (1950). Eve, which originally starred Bette Davis as Margo, is the ultimate backstage rivalry story. Margo is the big star fighting her huge ego as well as ageism as she tries to survive being upstaged by the young ingenue Eve, who starts as her biggest fan and assistant. Blanchett playing Margo is very meta. Forget that she already played Katharine Hepburn and now gets a chance to play her similarly lauded contemporary's most famous part »
- Murtada Elfadl
“Little Women” (1994)
Jo March would be so pleased. A new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age classic “Little Women” is in the works and a woman director is at the helm. According to Deadline, “Switched at Birth” actress Lea Thompson has signed on to play matriarch Marmee in Clare Niederpruem’s directorial debut. No word yet on who will portray protagonist Jo or her sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy.
First published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, “Little Women” follows the Civil War-era lives of the March family. The story is told mainly from the perspective of Jo, the second-eldest daughter, who chafes at the constraints she faces as a girl but pursues her passion of writing anyway. The novel begins as the four sisters and Marmee prepare for Christmas without Mr. March, who is away fighting for the Union.
Niederpruem is adapting “Little Women” with her writing partner, Kristi Shimek. Marybeth Sprows and Chris Donahue of Paulist Productions are producing with Main Dog Productions’ Maclain Nelson and Stephen Shimek. Besides Thompson, Lucas Grabeel (also of “Switched at Birth”) is the only other actor attached to the project. He is set to play Laurie, the March family’s neighbor and Jo’s best friend.
Principal photography for the film will begin in June with a theatrical release planned for 2018, the novel’s 150th anniversary.
“Little Women” has been adapted for the big screen several times, most recently in 1994. Gillian Armstrong directed the Winona Ryder-starrer from a script by Robin Swicord. Armstrong’s adaptation also featured Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, and Christian Bale. Katharine Hepburn and June Allyson portrayed Jo in the 1933 and 1949 film versions, respectively.
Previously, we reported plans of another “Little Women” iteration in development, penned by Greta Gerwig and produced by Amy Pascal, Denise Di Novi, and Swicord. It is unclear whether that film is still in development. Currently, there is no mention of it on Pascal or Gerwig’s IMDb page.
New “Little Women” Film in the Works from Clare Niederpruem was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Rachel Montpelier
21 April 2017 10:50 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
The personal archives of Peter O'Toole, the late and legendary British star of Lawrence of Arabia and so many other memorable films and plays, have been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
The veritable treasure trove contains O'Toole's correspondence with Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, John Gielgud, Katharine Hepburn, Jeremy Irons, Paul Newman, Kevin Spacey and others; diaries, notebooks, and theater and film scripts; photos, both professional and personal; and audio recordings of O'Toole rehearsing lines and reciting poetry (those alone are surely worth the price of admission).
The collection, held in 55 »
- Mike Barnes
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin has acquired the archive of British theater and film actor Peter O’Toole.
O’Toole began his career as a theater actor in Britain and went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations for films including “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “My Favorite Year,” and “Venus.” His 1962 role as the titular character in “Lawrence of Arabia” made him a household name. In 2002, O’Toole received an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime of work.
The archive contains several theater and film scripts, as well as O’Toole’s writings, including drafts and notes from his three memoirs, the last of which remains unfinished and unpublished since his death. Letters between O’Toole and other renowned members of the film and theater industries are also included, with correspondents like Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, and Laurence Olivier among them. »
- Erin Nyren
Bogart and Bacall. Powell and Loy. Cinema history is chock full of iconic on-screen dynamic duos. However, few pairs have fostered more great films and a more historic legacy off screen than Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.
Two of classic Hollywood’s most legendary actors, the pair would share the screen for nine feature films that played part in a decades-spanning love affair as public as their films were instantly beloved. Working together for roughly 25 years, Tracy and Hepburn were the focus of beloved comedies like Adam’s Rib and ultimately the figureheads for a generation in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. But where did it all begin?
That would be George Stevens’ seminal gender politics comedy Woman of the Year, which is now out in a delightfully rich Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray. With a screenplay from Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin (an Oscar winning one, at »
- Joshua Brunsting
Sandra Bullock is lending a helping hand to a friend in need.
The 52-year-old actress has made a $5,000 donation to help Svend Petersen — the longtime pool manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel who recent found himself homeless, hopping from motel to motel and spending many nights sleeping in his car.
“Sometimes I go three or four days without food,” Petersen, 89, told CBS-2. “As long as I have something to drink, I’m happy.”
- Dave Quinn
During its opening weekend, the anticipated yet controversial film “Ghost in the Shell” took home a measly $19 million at the domestic box office. Both domestically and abroad, it’s expected to lose over $60 million total, and that’s got to hurt.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the whitewashing controversy that has followed the film since its casting choices were first announced. Perhaps, by now, you’ve even heard of its bizarre narrative ending that, as The New York Times puts it, “isn’t just appropriation, but obliteration.” That said, we imagine you, too, may have the same question that family and friends have constantly asked us: Why does Hollywood continue to miscast race — and what makes studios think they can successfully get away with it?
The “easy” answer is that, historically, they always have — we don’t need to tell you about Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or Katharine Hepburn in the Oscar-nominated “Dragon Seed.” What’s more difficult is understanding when (and why) yellow face and whitewashing became synonymous with, as Paramount domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies less-than-tactfully just put it, finding a balance between “honoring source material and [making] a movie for a mass audience.” And, just like all matters in Hollywood, this becomes even more complicated when one considers where female stars, female autonomy, and racial tropes specifically fit into this conversation.
Yellow Face: Romance, Desire, and Fear
Though the western image of the Asian woman on the screen may have shifted across spectrums of time, its historical construction has assured its perpetual relationship with the notion of yellow peril. In her book “Romance and the ‘Yellow Peril,’” Gina Marchetti historically traces yellow peril as a 19th-century European concept that, according to Marchetti, “combines racist terror of alien cultures, sexual anxieties, and the belief that the West will be overpowered and enveloped by the irresistible, dark, occult forces of the East.”
In early Hollywood, this was best represented by cinematic romances between the “moral white man” and the “eroticized native woman.” The only way to “properly” reconstruct taboo interracial romances on the screen was through — you’ve guessed it — yellow face. With a little makeup and prosthetics, Caucasian actresses could transform into Asian characters who, more often then not, embodied the supposed seductiveness of the East.
Ironically, Paramount Pictures adopted this tactic as early as 1915 by casting Mary Pickford in “Madame Butterfly.” Pickford’s Japanese character falls in love with a westernized man, and their “racially forbidden” love ends in tragedy. The application of yellow face acts as a reassurance to western ideals: Though, narratively, The Butterfly may obtain the affections of the westernized man, the audience needs not distance itself from this taboo. In reality, it is a love between a Caucasian man and a Caucasian woman, rather than a “true” mixing of the West with the “alien cultures” of the East.
Yellow face is also arguably responsible for the now-infamous Hollywood image of the erotic Asian woman. Amidst an Asian persona, actresses were able to embrace and reveal a sexual identity that would otherwise be deemed immoral. In a way, some saw this as a rare career opportunity to show something different — and doesn’t that remind you of Johansson’s contemporary comments regarding her own casting?
Before she was the beloved Mrs. Charles of “The Thin Man” series, Myrna Loy embraced this “opportunity” throughout many of her silent films, including “The Crimson City” (in which she was chosen over Anna May Wong), “Thirteen Women,” and “The Mask of Fu Manchu.” Opposite a yellow faced Boris Karloff in “The Mask of Fu Manchu,” Loy plays a “half-naked nymphomaniacal sadist who reaches orgasmic heights when torturing white males.” Thus, in Loy’s case, an “Asian mask” is used to explore both racial stereotypes and female sexual desire — but at a distance guaranteed and controlled by whiteness itself.
The 1940s was also full of “rare opportunity” — not for artistry, but rather for country. William Wyler’s “The Letter” stands as one of the first filmic examples of “reaffirmed” yellow peril that persisted throughout World War II. This is seen through deliberate ramifications related to both the script and whitewashed casting — interestingly enough, in the 1929 original, the lead Asian protagonist is actually played by an Asian actress.
Gale Sondergaard’s role as a sinister wife (to Bette Davis’ “other woman”) is far from Pickford’s Butterfly or the overly sexualized Loy — she is truly a figure to be feared and despised, as opposed to conquered or desired. Sondergaard’s character is described as an “oriental villainous snake” deliberately juxtaposed against Davis’ “westernized and pure” feminine woman. Not only is the trope of the “bad Asian” employed and intensified, but the choice to hire a Caucasian actress is directly tied to the the anti-Asian sentiment of the Second World War. Sadly, this 1940s need for audience “familiarity and comfort” speaks volumes to where we still are today.
It’s 2017… We’re Still Talking About This?
For better or worse, this early industrial history offers a brief glimpse of understanding into this, frankly, screwed up Hollywood mentality.
Just last year, the Media, Diversity, and Social Change (Mdsc) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that “at least half or more of all cinematic, television, or streaming stories fail to portray one speaking or named Asian or Asian American on screen.” Over 17 million people in the United States identify as Asian or Asian American. That’s over five percent of the country’s population!
The idea that actually casting Asian characters in Asian roles would repel a mass audience is a dated, Euro-centric cop-out. Newsflash: we don’t always need a Swinton or Stone.
As for Johansson, The Mary Sue said it best: “she’s one of those few female stars who can open a film, make a huge paycheck, and has a certain level of decision-making power.” Now, let us start by saying that, obviously, we at Women and Hollywood love nothing more than watching other women succeed.
That said, like her predecessors before her, the color of Johansson’s skin grants her a level of star power and opportunity that few others could access or afford. The mere fact that she even can consider her “Ghost in the Shell” character “identity-less” speaks to her racial privilege. Her comments related to this film have consistently (and frustratingly) proven that this history—that whitewashing enables actresses to safely explore personas or opportunities they wouldn’t seek otherwise — is very much ingrained into the media’s industrial mindset.
If producers and studio executives refuse to evolve their ways, then it is up to those of us who have power (like Johansson) to fight for greater intersectionality. Women must lift other women up, and white actresses, in particular, must learn to see past personal opportunity and instead acknowledge that some “unique experiences” simply do not belong to them.
“Ghost in the Shell” and a Brief Herstory of Whitewashing was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Kelsey Moore
Roughly a year and a half after Dwayne Johnson signed on to star in Disney's Jungle Cruise, the studio has finally given the green light to the project. Production is now slated to begin in the spring of 2018, with the studio beginning its search for a director to take over the project. Dwayne Johnson will also produce through his Seven Bucks Productions company, alongside Dany Garcia. The actor-producer took to his Instagram page earlier today to confirm the news, with the following statement.
"This is a big one we've been working on. Very excited to roll up the sleeves and work on building out this huge property with our Disney partners. This #JungleCruise script was hand delivered to me personally (on the set of Ballers) by my good bud and Walt Disney's President of Production, Sean Bailey. Read the script twice that weekend and Loved It! Thank God, the script »
It isn’t just “Ghost in the Shell” — whitewashing in Hollywood casting goes back to the beginnings of Hollywood itself. And, despite vastly changing values, it remains a problem to this day. It’s more controversial than ever now, but some examples remain particularly galling. Read on for some of the most notorious instances of Hollywood whitewashing. Katharine Hepburn as Jade in “Dragon Seed” (1944) As morale-boosting propaganda featuring one of the greatest actresses of all time, this war film based on the novel by Pearl S Buck is extremely effective. But four time Oscar-winner Katharine Hepburn’s performance is marred, »
- Jeremy Fuster
The only remotely unpredictable thing about “Carrie Pilby,” a bland romantic drama that wastes and waters down the abundant charisma of its young star (“Diary of a Teenage Girl” breakout Bel Powley), is that it suffers from the exact same problem that turned last week’s “Power Rangers” into such a lifeless bore: By trying to provide a little something for everyone, it ultimately offers precious little to anyone. From low-budget stories of sex in the city to blockbuster reboots about teens who overcome their sexting scandals by fighting giant alien monsters made of liquid gold, it seems that even the most outwardly dissimilar of movies are united by their shared compulsion to sacrifice insight at the altar of accessibility (union agreements come and go, but mediocrity is forever).
But even that fatal flaw could be seen coming a mile away, especially by those who were already familiar with the »
- David Ehrlich
Rooney as Japanese? Stone as native Hawaiian? TheWrap looks at history of racially misguided castings Katharine Hepburn in “Dragon Seed” (1944) Caucasian Hepburn played a Chinese woman in this big-screen adaptation of the Pearl S. Buck novel. Marlon Brando in “The Teahouse of the August Moon” (1956) Brando starred as an Okinawan translator for the U.S. Army in this comedy about the American occupation of the island nation. John Wayne in “Conquerer” (1956) Wayne was cast as Mongol conquerer Genghis Khan in what’s considered by many to be one of the worst films of all time. Charlton Heston in “Touch of Evil »
- Beatrice Verhoeven
She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.—Flannery O’Connor The mist uncovers Japanese soldiers as well as the grim sight of severed heads by the side of the hot springs where Catholic priests are being tortured. A priest kneels down in horror, almost catatonic, unable to bring himself to believe in the evilness of these men, the men of the Inquisitor. Why are these priests, who came to this “swamp of Japan” to spread the Word of the Lord, suffering so immensely on the hands of these soldiers?To the modern, secular audience, the theme of Silence (2016) is of great irony: the all-powerful Catholic Church, the institution that spread terror across Europe for 700 years with her bonfires and witch hunts and enforcing an almost maddening outlook at faith and personal behavior, comes to an unconquerable land where »
Image Source: Everett Collection Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most timeless classics, but there's a lot about the animated film that you might not have realized. For instance, do you know exactly what kind of animal the Beast was based on? Or his real name? The reboot is absolutely gorgeous and has a few interesting updates, but for now, let's revisit all of the interesting tidbits that make the 1991 film so great. Jackie Chan dubbed the voice of the Beast for Chinese-speaking countries. He provided vocals for both the Beast's speaking and singing parts! Chip originally had only one line. The producers liked 9-year-old actor Bradley Pierce's voice so much that they asked to expand the role. He also wasn't supposed to be a teacup. Early drawings of the character saw him as a music box who could only communicate by his chiming musical notes. Belle's »
- Quinn Keaney
Guest Post by J.E. Smyth
Current debates in the media about women’s employment, representation, and visibility in Hollywood focus — perhaps predictably — on stars’ pay and the number of active female directors. Yet there’s also a sense that, however unequal the situation is now, things must have been far worse for women working in the film industry sixty, seventy, or eighty years ago under the studio system — and that women should be grateful for some small improvements.
How very far from the truth this is.
In 1942, the year Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn earned higher salaries than President Roosevelt, the Screen Writers Guild elected a new president — Mary C. McCall Jr. She would be elected three times (1942–43, 1943–44, 1951–52), and for two decades was one of the most articulate and powerful advocates for screenwriters and their union. Before McCall came on the scene and helped broker the first contract with the producers, it was well known up and down Hollywood that the average writer made less per week than a secretary.
McCall worked to get the screenwriting profession its first minimum wage, unemployment compensation, minimum flat-price deals, maximum working hours, credit arbitration, and pay raises during WWII.
She specialized in films about women and was proud of it. She was less happy working at Warner Bros. In 1936, on loan out to Columbia, she was on the set every day working with director Dorothy Arzner, star Rosalind Russell, and editor Viola Lawrence on “Craig’s Wife.” It was Arzner who persuaded her to fight the misogynist atmosphere at Warner Bros. and commit to a serious career as a writer.
Two years later, she moved to MGM and crafted the sleeper hit of the year, “Maisie.” Ann Sothern’s never-say-die working woman became a cultural phenomenon and was one of the industry’s most successful franchises. During the war, McCall headed the Hollywood branch of the War Activities Committee, the Committee of Hollywood Guild and Unions, and the Screen Writers Guild.
But, being Hollywood’s top organization woman was only one part of her life. At the height of her career, she had and raised four children with two different husbands. She famously gave birth to twins 24 hours after her last story conference on 1935’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She was a firm believer in the Equal Rights Amendment, and a lifelong Roosevelt Democrat. Hollywood producers destroyed her career when she stood up against Howard Hughes and Rko pictures when they denied Communist writer Paul Jarrico credit on “The Las Vegas Story” during the blacklist.
You won’t find any of this in academic or popular histories of Hollywood. These days, she’s all but forgotten, while Dalton Trumbo and the other male Hollywood Ten are remembered and even get biopic makeovers.
Things are changing.
On March 16, the Writers Guild Foundation will be honoring McCall’s life and legacy with a 35mm screening of “Craig’s Wife” — which is still not available to the public on DVD — and “Reward Unlimited,” a 10-minute documentary short she wrote about women’s war work which hasn’t been screened since 1944. After the screenings, McCall’s daughters, television writer Mary-David Sheiner and former Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson, will sit down with me to discuss McCall’s career. The reception and event, held at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills, are free.
When McCall came to Hollywood in the 1930s, women’s membership in the Screen Writers Guild hovered between 20 and 25 percent and was nearer a third during the war. But membership plunged for women in the 1960s down to the teens and shrunk further in the ’80s and ’90s. Since the millennium, numbers have slowly increased. Now, 24.9 percent of women are film guild members, but far fewer women writers are being hired for major productions now than the norm seventy or eighty years ago.
Why should we remember Mary C. McCall Jr.? Because she believed in women’s careers; because she believed in the importance of a union; because negotiation, compromise, and political moderation made her and her profession powerful. She is a role model to be reckoned with. And she proved two other things: that Hollywood’s women could call the shots in their careers and that seventy-five years ago, a woman could be president…
J. E. Smyth is Professor of History at the University of Warwick (UK) and the author of several books on American cinema, including “Edna Ferber’s Hollywood” and the BFI Classics volume on “From Here to Eternity.” Her book on Hollywood’s many high-powered career women — starring Mary McCall — will be published later this year by Oxford University Press.
Guest Post: When a Woman Called the Shots at the Screen Writers Guild was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Women and Hollywood
Author: Stefan Pape
Given the tireless work Emma Watson commits to fighting for feminism, and equality – it was only natural it would come up as a topic of discussion when we had the pleasure of meeting the British actress for her latest role, in Disney’s live-action reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, as she speaks passionately about the parallels between her life off-screen and the character in the movie.
It also seemed only natural that she should be paired with Dan Stevens, who plays the Beast to her Belle, who also got involved in the conversation about his co-star’s activism, and how it enriched the project in his eyes. The pair proceed to discuss their relationship with the original animation, and what it’s like shooting a musical.
Emma, do you think this role corresponds with your activism in real life?
Emma Watson: I actually think there »
- Stefan Pape
Celebrated author Robert James Waller has died at the age of 77. Take a look back at People’s 1995 cover story on Meryl Streep and her emotional role in the film adaptation of Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County.
In the final days of the five-week shoot of The Bridges of Madison County last fall, Meryl Streep did one of the many things she does better onscreen than anyone else: she cried. Filming an emotional scene in which her character struggles to say goodbye to her lover, the actress would show up on the set in Winterset, Iowa, at 9 in »
- People Staff
Joe Richards Mar 24, 2017
Need to find a bit of movie happiness? Here are 25 films that might just do the trick...
Let's face it, we could all probably do with a little bit of cheering up right about now. Times are scary and times are tough, so it's perfectly natural to look for some kind of reassurance that everything will indeed be all right in the end.
Film is perhaps one of the most powerful and effective tools in doing this. It can be a transportative experience, an escape from reality, and, most importantly, it can act as a reminder of all that is good in the world.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 25 movies that are almost-guaranteed to make you smile and restore your faith in humanity...
In truth, any of Charlie Chaplin’s films are perfect for those times when you just need to smile. »
“Diamond Cartel,” directed by Salamat Mukhammed-Ali (“The Whole World at Our Feet”), preserves one final performance from one of Hollywood’s finest, Peter O’Toole. While it may seem sort of surreal to see Mr. O’Toole go from the wooing Katherine Hepburn to wielding a machine gun, it’s actually quite comedic.
In addition to the eight-time Oscar nominee, “Diamond Cartel” stars Emmy Award-winning actor Armand Assante and includes appearances by Michael Madsen. Pretty stacked. Additionally, the film showcases the talents of martial arts superstar Bolo Yeung (“Enter The Dragon”), Japanese TV and film veteran Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Japanese-American 11-time professional kickboxing world champion Don “The Dragon” Wilson. No, really stacked.
Read More: Watch: Rare Behind-the-Scenes Footage from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’
The film is set to have its theatrical release on March »
- Kerry Levielle
The Olivier-nominated actor joined us live from the National Theatre to talk about crying on cue, why American TV takes so many risks and what she has in common with Hedda Gabler
Thanks for reading! And watching. Great answering all your questions - au revoir!
Do you find parallels between the characters you play – ie Stella and Hedda? Both are destructive in their own way. Do you ever draw on your experiences playing other characters with whom you can see similarities?
Sometimes there are similarities, but I've never put those two together. I've seen moments of Alice in Hedda, and moments of Alison in Hedda - in their self loathing. Alice is a psychopath, and is slightly different, she enjoys it and doesn't have a conscience; Alison and Hedda have a deep sense of self-loathing, with Hedda it's quite far down and she doesn't recognise it. »
- Guardian Staff
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