Hollywood is a brutally tough town on women. The other day I read this disturbing article in the LA Times by Patrick Goldstein about the lack of women directors in Hollywood. There is a lot of truth to what he says. One thing that I also notice is that women directors who DO get a shot at a big movie don’t seem to be handed second chances if they don’t meet expectations. Many male directors have a bomb at the box office and still keep getting work. Directors such as Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) and Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose) are now directing episodic television and haven’t helmed a feature film in years. In the history of the Motion Picture Academy, only 3 women have EVER been nominated for the Best Director Oscar—Lina Wertm?ller (Seven Beauties, 1976) (Jane Campion (The Piano, 1933) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2003). Screenwriter Callie Khouri won an Academy Award for Thelma and Louise in 1991, but didn’t get the opportunity to direct until 2002. I can’t help but wonder if that would have happened much faster if she was a man! There was also an article in Entertainment Weekly about director Amy Heckerling and how her most recent film starring Michelle Pfeiffer was dumped straight to video.
Another thing that I find discouraging is the way women are depicted in the media. LA Times writer Rachel Abramowitz wrote an article about the careers of Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow, which referred to them as having “hit cinematic middle age”. Another article about the Sex in the City film referred to women over 30 as “older women”. WHAT THE HELL? These stories and the smug way they referred to women made me furious! Is it any wonder plastic surgery is such an awful epidemic in this town? Manohla Dargis also made a point in her recent NY Times article about the current state of leading roles for actresses.
I guess the only encouraging part is that there ARE many women working as publicists, producers, agents, studio chiefs and screenwriters. There were a record number of female screenwriters nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar last year. I guess there is some hope…...it just feels discouraging and frustrating sometimes.
There is a website called MoviesByWomen.com which is dedicated to providing information on historical women directors, current and past statistics on women directors, and also includes female director interviews. They also encourage women to support the films of women directors by attending on opening weekend. There is also a site called GuerillaGirls.com. They have created some pretty funny and eye-catching posters about the women in Hollywood statistics.
Many years ago I worked for an agent who represented writers and directors. One day my boss called the studio to set up a pitch meeting for one of our directors, who happened to be a female. I was listening in on the call, which was standard for assistants…at least at the time. The studio executive literally asked my boss if the director in question was single and hot. I was angry and as I listened to the call my nails curled up and started digging into the palms of my hands. I thought I was going to draw blood. I was upset and infuriated, but sadly not surprised. This woman didn’t deserve that. She just deserved to be considered for the job and given a fair chance.
I am in the Hollywood Heritage organization and yesterday I got the devastating news via e-mail that Robert Nudelman had passed away. This man was instrumental in preserving Hollywood landmarks. He had a vast knowledge of preservation, including the legal and political issues involved. He loved film history and really cared so much about keeping the past alive. Many years ago I lived in a rough area of East Hollywood and I was at a neighborhood crime watch meeting. I was rather shocked to see Mr. Nudelman there. I don’t think he even lived in the area. He was there to see what was going on and what was going to be done. He was THAT hands on and concerned about everything. One of our members said that Mr. Nudelman should have been the replacement for Johnny Grant because NOBODY cared about Hollywood as much as he did! I agree.
This is a terribly sad day for Hollywood and Robert Nudelman was irreplaceable.
I only hope now that the rest of us in Hollywood Heritage will be able to keep up his fight to save our historic buildings. It will be 10,000 times more difficult without his expertise, but we owe it to his memory to keep up the fight. It is what he would have wanted.
Did anyone see this article in the LA Times about the Westwood Crest?
I LOVE this theatre and I am sad to see that it is having difficulties. I know that I am an old soul, but I really do prefer the single screen theatre to the megaplex. For one thing, The Westwood Crest is a beautiful theatre with fantastic art deco design and a long history. I find that most multiplexes are like glorified boxes that completely lack personality or imagination in their design. I also hate when I am trying to see a thoughtful drama at a multiplex only to hear giant booms or explosions from the action film playing in the adjacent theatre.
The problem is that Mr. Bucksbaum has only been able to get films like the poorly reviewed 88 MINUTES or films long after they’ve played at other theatres. I am sure it is very hard operating a theatre as an independent, instead of being part of a chain.
I have contacted Mr. Bucksbaum and I told him that I will do anything I can to help him get the theatre declared a historic Landmark. That place is far too beautiful to become an office space, condo or a swap meet. That just can’t happen.
HATS OFF is a delightful slice of life documentary about actress Mimi Weddell. She began acting and modeling in her 60s after her late husband passed away, leaving her in debt. Her spirit and attitude are remarkable. She refuses to let anything get the best of her. Her motto is “rise above it” and she admirably does. Weddell has appeared as a bit player and character actress in numerous films and tv shows including Sex in the City, Hitch opposite Will Smith and in the low budget horror film Student Bodies. She has also appeared in high fashion ads in the pages of Vanity Fair and Vogue. Weddell routinely hits and boards for fourteen hour days and she is now in her 90s!!!
The film has a rather slow pace and I wish it would have had more forward momentum, but I enjoyed it just the same.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mimi Weddell at the recent press day for the film. She had a VERY firm grip that took me by surprise. She seemed every bit as vibrant in person as she was in the film. We launched into an immediate discussion about our mutual passion for vintage hats. In speaking with her, our 60+ year age difference seemed to melt away and we were just two women having a nice chat.
If you loved YOUNG @ HEART, then you will also enjoy HATS OFF. Both films are endearing documentaries that celebrate the spirit of elderly people whose minds keep them vital and young.
Check out HATS OFF now playing at the Laemmle Theatres.