Jennifer Saunders (I) - News Poster


Monday’s best TV: The Great Festive Bake Off; McMafia

  • The Guardian - TV News
Britain’s favourite baking show returns for a seasonal special; plus James Norton stars in a timely drama about Russian criminals in London

The latest David Walliams book to be adapted by the BBC stars Tom Courtenay as a dashing but forgetful pensioner convinced he is still fighting for air superiority in the second world war. When his hapless son (Walliams) packs Grandpa off to a sinister nursing home, plucky youngster Jack (Kit Connor) vows to spring him out. It’s a family-friendly adventure with a vibrant 1980s setting and a dual role for Jennifer Saunders. Graeme Virtue

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'Being silly is what they do best': the return of French and Saunders

Thirty years after their first sketch series and 10 since their last TV show, the double act are back for a Christmas special

The first series of French and Saunders, in 1987, was, writes Dawn French in her autobiography, “pretty shabby” (though it also “showed promise”). The BBC had taken a gamble on French and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, or in the words of the light entertainment boss Jim Moir “I’ve got my dick on the table for you ladies”, as French recalled. “Thirty years later,” French writes, “we still wonder occasionally if they want us.”

They do. This Christmas – 30 years after their first sketch show, 10 years after their last TV show and nine years after the live shows that marked their then-retirement as a double act – French and Saunders are back, for a one-off show at least. It promises classic French and Saunders material – old parodies (among them, the
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

2017’s Must Watch Christmas TV

Work has finished, the office party embarrassment is starting to subside and you’re ready to collapse into the hibernation period before your New Year’s Resolutions promise to make yourself a better person. Christmas TV can be a minefield of shows we would never see any other time of year and, for some, with good reason. Thankfully, we are here to take your alcohol-shaking hand and lead you through the chaos to some of the best options on your box this Christmas.

Cool Runnings (1993) – BBC 1 – 23rd December – 1:15 Pm

It’s important to lower yourself slowly into Christmas TV and whilst Cool Runnings is not your archetypal Christmas film, the heart-warming tale of a Jamaican bobsleigh team making it to the Winter Olympics is a great nostalgic throwback. Whilst the PG comedy may not have people laughing like it did 20 years ago, the overlying themes of teamwork and friendship
See full article at The Cultural Post »

Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees review – from woodland stethoscopes to Shakespeare’s sonnets

The actor makes fascinating discoveries about how trees communicate, the best time to plant your own and the role they have played in history and literature

‘My life now is just trees, isn’t it,” says Judi Dench. “Trees and, erm, champagne.” Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders have nicked that one, they’re doing a programme about champagne – Absolutely Champers – tonight. So Dame Judi gets the trees. Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees (BBC One) it’s called, and it’s rather lovely.

She has her own secret woodland at home in Surrey, where she has been planting trees for 30 years, initially with her husband, Michael Williams. He died in 2001 and there’s a tree here in his memory. Many of Dench’s friends are remembered in trees. “It’s something living that goes on,” she explains. “You don’t remember them and stop; you remember them and the memory
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Sally Phillips interview: Ferdinand, Taskmaster, Smack The Pony, Veep

Louisa Mellor Dec 15, 2017

We chatted to actor and writer Sally Phillips about comedy, European accents, special cuddles, writing films and more...

“I’m quite keen to meet a Finnish shaman, have you seen them?” asks Sally Phillips three minutes into an interview that’s supposed to be about her role in new family animation Ferdinand. Scrolling through her phone, she presents me with a photograph of a fearsome looking woman with Pris from Blade Runner eye make-up, wearing an elaborate headdress and holding a tambourine.

See related Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

“Look at the expression! Very, very miserable, tambourine, excellent eye make-up” says Phillips, delighted. “I play a character who looks a bit like that in Zapped! and I did something else recently where they painted a black chicken on one eye. I thought, well, it’s slowly, slowly happening, I’m turning into a Finnish Shaman.”

Despite not having visited Finland,
See full article at Den of Geek »

The Den of Geek Christmas 2017 UK TV and radio guide

Louisa Mellor Dec 13, 2017

We’ve taken a highlighter to this year’s Christmas and New Year TV schedules and circled what we’ll be watching this festive season…

Amid the cosy repeats and cranberry-stuffed cookery shows on TV over the next few weeks are a few gems. There’s no Sherlock or Charlie Brooker’s TV Wipe this year, but there are plenty of treats, not least the return of The League Of Gentlemen for a three-part anniversary series and Peter Capaldi’s last hurrah in the Tardis in the Doctor Who Christmas episode.

See related 26 new TV shows to watch in 2017

Over on Netflix, six new episodes of Black Mirror are coming to usher in the New Year, two days into which we welcome the return of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s genius anthology Inside No. 9.

Not to gloss over a spooky M.R. James night on BBC Four,
See full article at Den of Geek »

BBC Christmas 2017 TV line-up announced

Louisa Mellor Nov 28, 2017

Here's a pick of the BBC's drama and comedy for this Christmas, including Doctor Who and The League Of Gentlemen...

Get ready to mentally circle a few items in the festive TV planner; the BBC has officially announced its Christmas 2017 line-up.

See related Dark Universe: the undignified death of a cinematic universe

Our priorities first: Peter Capaldi’s outgoing Doctor Who episode in the leading role, Twice Upon A Time. The episode is written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay and stars Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Mark Gatiss and David Bradley.

According to the official synopsis, Twice Upon A Time will see Twelve and Bill “team up with the first ever Doctor to battle the enchanted glass people before he regenerates into the 13th Doctor”. Expect that to air on December the 25th as usual (we’ll confirm the time as soon as it’s announced).

Next up are three (hooray!
See full article at Den of Geek »

Baywatch, Björk and mimicking Madonna: 30 years of French and Saunders

With surreal silliness and spot-on parody, the comedy duo – who return to TV screens this Christmas – altered the face of comedy

At the TV Baftas in 2009, French and Saunders were given a joint fellowship in celebration of their comedy career. They walked on stage to the sound of Here Come the Girls, as was the legal requirement for every woman achieving something from the period between 2008 and 2012. They got a standing ovation from the crowd of TV insiders. The applause went on, and on, so much so that Jennifer Saunders had to shout at the audience to quieten them down: “Shut up, shut up! That’s very embarrassing. Far too long.”

Related: French and Saunders film version of The Handmaid's Tale in Christmas special

Related: Top TV spoofs: 'Don't I know you from Lark Pies To Cranchesterford?'

Related: Dawn French review – comic opens her heart in poignant solo show
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Prince William Sounds Off on Social Media Pressures: 'There Is a Sense of Being on Call 24/7'

Prince William Sounds Off on Social Media Pressures: 'There Is a Sense of Being on Call 24/7'
Prince William is echoing his brother Prince Harry‘s sentiments on the pressures of social media on kids and young adults.

The royal dad gave a passionate speech at a circus-themed gala Monday night, celebrating the partnership between The Children’s Trust, an organization that helps children with brain injuries, and one of his key charities, Skillforce.

“The pressure on young people these days is considerable — almost certainly more than even for my generation not so long ago,” he said.

“Children are tested more than ever before and are being prepared to enter a highly competitive work market,” he continued.
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Afm: China Lion Picks ‘Patrick,’ Boards Animation ‘Extinct’ (Exclusive)

Multi-territory distributor China Lion Entertainment Production has picked up China rights to family entertainment film “Patrick.” Operating as a producer-financier, China Lion has also boarded “Extinct,” an animation project to be directed by “Monsters Inc.” co-director David Silverman.

Patrick” is the story of a young woman whose already messy life is made more complicated when she inherits her grandmother’s defiant dog. The film, which will be released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Buena Vista Intl. in the U.K., is directed by Mandie Fletcher from a script by Fletcher and Vanessa Davies. It stars Jennifer Saunders, Emilia Jones and Gemma Joneswill.

China Lion acquired rights through sales company The Exchange. It plans a mainland China release in the third quarter of 2018.

“Extinct” involves several members of the team behind “The Simpsons” including writers Joel Cohen, John Frink and Rob Lazebnik. Silverman was also director of the 2007 “The Simpsons Movie.” China Lion will
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Tom Courtenay To Make ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’; ‘Good Omens’ Adds Cast; Deutsche Telekom Gets ‘Germanized’ – Global Briefs

BBC One is prepping for Grandpa's Great Escape, starring BAFTA and Berlin Silver Bear winner, and Oscar nominee, Tom Courtenay alongside Kit Connor and Jennifer Saunders. Based on the children's book by Little Britain's David Walliams, it will air at Christmas. It tells the tale of Grandpa, a World War II flying ace, who now suffers from Alzheimer's. When his family can no longer look after him, he's moved to Twilight Towers, run by Miss Dandy. But it soon becomes clear…
See full article at Deadline TV »

French and Saunders film version of The Handmaid's Tale in Christmas special

Comedians Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders prepare parodies as they revive sketch show 30 years after its first outing

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are to return to TV screens this Christmas, 30 years after the first series of their sketch show was broadcast.

The BBC1 festive special of French and Saunders will feature the double act’s most popular sketches from the past three decades, plus rarely seen footage and new material.

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

French & Saunders Reteam For BBC Special; ITV On ‘Manhunt’ – Global Briefs

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are set for a holiday special 30th anniversary episode of their award-winning sketch show French And Saunders. BBC One will air the BBC Studios Comedy production which marks the first time in 10 years that the talents behind The Vicar Of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous will reunite on screen. Saunders says, "We have almost deliberately stayed alive this long just to force the British Broadcorping Castration to put us on television one last…
See full article at Deadline TV »

‘The Simpsons’ Star Nancy Cartwright: 30 Years Later, Bart Simpson Has Become a Grandma — and a First-Time Filmmaker

‘The Simpsons’ Star Nancy Cartwright: 30 Years Later, Bart Simpson Has Become a Grandma — and a First-Time Filmmaker
It’s been a big year for “The Simpsons,” but an even bigger one for the voice of Bart Simpson.

Bart, Homer and the rest of the family first appeared on “The Tracey Ullman Show” 30 years ago, and the series is about to break another record with the most episodes of any scripted series in history (surpassing “Gunsmoke”).

Nancy Cartwright has also hit personal milestones, including her second Emmy nomination for voicing Bart Simpson. But over the course of the past year, she also became a grandmother – and a first-time filmmaker.

The Simpsons” has already been picked up for Seasons 29 and 30, guaranteeing Cartwright’s role as Bart until at least 2019 – and likely beyond. “Look what we’ve done. It’s unbelievable. It’s unfathomable,” she recently told IndieWire. “At 10 years they were saying, ‘Did you have any idea?’ and then 20 years, ‘Did you know?’ And now, another decade has gone
See full article at Indiewire »

Study: West End Musicals Are Overwhelmingly Written by Men

“The Book of Mormon”:

London’s West End just earned a dubious honor: it’s just as inhospitable to women as Broadway. A new study from The Stage examined the West End musical productions that ran for at least three weeks from 2007 to 2016, and found that female writers are severely underrepresented — in fact, male scribes outnumber women nine to one. Women received a writing credit on only 16 percent of the West End’s last decade of musicals.

“There are so many women playwrights out there — their voices are heard and they’re writing contemporary, pertinent, compelling drama,” said “Mamma Mia!” book writer Catherine Johnson. “So for that not also to be happening in musical theater, something is really going wrong.”

Indeed. It’s hard to reconcile the news that two-thirds of the Royal Court Theatre’s new season are written or directed by women with the dismal numbers of women writing musicals. Unfortunately it’s true: Seventy-five percent of West End musicals included zero women on their writing teams, which are usually comprised of a book writer, a composer, and a lyricist. Women wrote or co-wrote just 12 percent of the books.

If you take jukebox musicals — musicals, like Carole King’s “Beautiful,” that do not use new original songs — into consideration, women wrote 18 percent of the productions’ music or lyrics. Disregarding jukebox musicals, only nine percent of the musicals boasted a female composer.

Of the 118 musicals the West End has put on during the past decade, only four of the shows’ scores were composed by one individual woman: Cyndi Lauper’s “Kinky Boots,” Jeanine Tesori’s “Shrek the Musical,” Margaret MartinGone With the Wind,” and Kath Gotts’ “Bad Girls the Musical.”

And just three of the 118 musicals were written by an all-female team: “Bad Girls,” “Gone With the Wind,” and “Viva Forever!” the book of which was penned by Jennifer Saunders (“Ab Fab”) with music and lyrics by the Spice Girls. In contrast, 88 shows were from an all-male writing team.

“The problem is that the established stable of go-to talent for any of these big-scale opportunities is still basically an almost exclusively white, male, closed shop,” Gotts told The Stage in response to the research.

Jon Bromwich, exec producer at Youth Music Theatre UK, believes that the gender disparity can be traced back to school. “Lack of role models and instruction at a young age are undoubtedly contributory. Ingrained behavior patterns may mean that young female instrumentalists stay with their instrument while males move into composition.”

Whatever the cause, there is definitely a gender problem in modern theater. It seems that every week or so a new story breaks about the obstacles women face in the field. Wellesley Centers for Women found that a glass ceiling exists for women climbing the ladder at nonprofit theaters. Actors’ Equity published research about the stronghold white men have on acting and stage management jobs. And the only new women-written plays on Broadway this season — Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” and Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” — are not long for this world.

So much for Book, Music and Lyrics founder/director David James’ response to The Stage’s research. “I would say the answer, for both men and women, is to raise their game and write stronger work,” James commented. “If women write the better work, they will be produced. I don’t believe they will be sidelined because of gender.”

If only we lived in that world, Mr. James. But we definitely don’t.

Below are highlights from The Stage’s study. Head over to its website for more information.

Of the 118 musicals that ran on London’s West End from 2007 to 2016:

3 were from an all-female writing team, compared to 88 from an-all male writing team12 percent featured books written by a womanFour scores were composed by a woman75 percent featured no women on their writing teamsNearly nine out of 10 musicals had a book written entirely by menIncluding jukebox musicals, 18 percent of the shows’ music or lyrics were women-written

None of the shows in 2014 featured books, music, or lyrics from women

None of the shows in 2010 featured music from a female composer

None of the books in 2011, 2013, or 2016 were written by women

Study: West End Musicals Are Overwhelmingly Written by Men was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Nicole Kidman Gives Inspiring Message About Defying Age in Hollywood at Glamour Awards

Nicole Kidman Gives Inspiring Message About Defying Age in Hollywood at Glamour Awards
Nicole Kidman is having a moment. After her tour de force as an abused wife in Big Little Lies and an adoptive mother in Lion, the 49-year-old actress has been taking Hollywood and award shows by storm, once again. On Tuesday night, the Australian actress lit up the stage with an inspiring speech about defying ageism in Hollywood when she accepted the award for Best Film Actress at the 14th Annual British Glamour Awards at the Berkeley Square Gardens in London. The glittering annual event was hosted by Absolutely Fabulous' Jennifer Saunders. As for the night's other big winners: Bridget Jones' Baby director Sharon Maguire won the Best Filmaker Award. Jennifer Hudson was named as the...
See full article at E! Online »

'Office Uprising' sells for The Exchange

  • ScreenDaily
'Office Uprising' sells for The Exchange
Production wrapped recently on action spoof.

The Exchange has closed a raft of deals on action spoof Office Uprising starring Brenton Thwaites.

CEO Brian O’Shea and his team have licensed French rights to Ab Droits Audiovisuels, Latin America to Swen, the Middle East to Selim Ramia, China to DDDream International Media, Russia to Volga, and Thailand to SahaMongkol.

Office Uprising tells of an underachiever at a weapons firm who attempts to rescue his true love from a weapons manufacturer where the workers have been turned into psychopaths by a new energy drink.

Jane Levy, Karan Soni, Zachary Levy and Alan Ritchson round out the cast.

Production wrapped recently on the film that Lin Oeding directed from a screenplay by Ian Shorr and Peter Gamble Robinson.

Giulia Prenna, Jim Steele, Sean Lydiard and Will Clevinger serve as producers.

“The combination of the commercial concept, high production value and the established stars is allowing us to make aggressive
See full article at ScreenDaily »

The Exchange boards 'Tragedy Girls'

  • ScreenDaily
The Exchange boards 'Tragedy Girls'
The Exchange has acquired international sales to the SXSW horror-comedy feature Tragedy Girls.

CEO Brian O’Shea and his team will screen the film at the market. CAA handles Us rights and a deal is expected imminently.

Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid, Kevin Durand, and Craig Robinson lead the cast in the story of two death-obsessed teenage girls in a small midwestern town.

When the friends use their online show about real-life tragedies to send everyone into a frenzy they cement their legacy as modern horror legends.

Tyler MacIntyre directed from a screenplay he co-wrote with Chris Lee Hill.

Producers are Anthony Holt, Armen Aghaeian, Edward Mokhtarian, Cameron Van Hoy, Tara Ansley, and Robinson. Kerry Rhodes serves as an executive producer.

The Comeback Kids and New Artist Pictures produced Tragedy Girls in association with Ardor Pictures.

Tragedy Girls is a fun, commercial and incredibly satisfying teen genre movie, which will have a great run in the
See full article at ScreenDaily »

“Ab Fab’s” Joanna Lumley to Receive the BAFTA Fellowship

Joanna Lumley in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”: David Appleby/IMDb

Joanna Lumley is receiving the British Academy’s greatest honor. Variety reports that the “Absolutely Fabulous” star will be honored with the BAFTA Fellowship at the British Academy Television Awards on May 14. The special award is granted “to an individual in recognition of their outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television, or games.”

“Nothing could make me prouder or happier than being awarded this phenomenal honor,” Lumley said in a statement. “To be counted amongst the greatest talents and stars of our industry is an awesome gift.”

Previous BAFTA fellows include Lumley’s “Ab Fab” co-star Jennifer Saunders, Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”), and Julie Walters (“National Treasure”).

Lumley is best known as “Ab Fab’s” Patsy Stone. Created by Saunders and Dawn French, the comedy centered on best friends Patsy and Edina Monsoon (Saunders) and their many misadventures. The series’ six seasons aired sporadically from 1992 to 2012. The 2016 film “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” saw the duo fleeing to the south of France after accidentally pushing Kate Moss into the Thames. Directed by Mandie Fletcher and written by Saunders, the “Ab Fab” film was a big hit in the UK.

Lumley’s acting career spans six decades. She took home a BAFTA for her performance in “Absolutely Fabulous” in both 1993 and 1995. She and the cast of 1961’s “The Avengers” received a special BAFTA award in 2000. Among Lumley’s recent credits are Thea Sharrock’s “Me Before You” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The British Academy Television Awards will take place May 14 at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Ab Fab’s” Joanna Lumley to Receive the BAFTA Fellowship was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Joanna Lumley to Receive BAFTA Fellowship

Pass the Bolly, darling!

Joanna Lumley is set to join an esteemed list of names on May 14 when she is awarded BAFTA's highest honor.

The near-legendary (and BAFTA-winning) star of shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and The New Avengers across a career spanning four decades will receive the BAFTA Fellowship at the Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards.

Others to have accepted the award in honor of their television work include Lumley's longtime collaborator Jennifer Saunders, plus Dawn French, Michael Palin, David Attenborough and Julie Walters.

“From high-kicking her way into our hearts as Purdey in The New Avengers to showcasing...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - TV News »
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