Monday, May 19th, 2008
the state of things for women in this town
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.
Written by Karie (site owner)
on 05/19 at 09:39 PM