The Last Word is a funny and moving tale about a woman everyone loved to hate. It stars Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, and AnnJewel Lee Dixon. Continue reading “Review: The Last Word”
Wild Oats stars Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange in a comedy about living it up while you can. It was funny, but the best part of the movie was watching Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange have a great time together. Continue reading “Review: Wild Oats”
Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried star in The Last Word. It’s a part Shirley MacLaine has played several times before – the curmudgeonly control freak that no one can stand. But the foil for her excesses in the past has always been some hapless young man. Now she’s up against Amanda Seyfried. It should make things pop. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for The Last Word”
Last week on Glee it was Shirley Maclaine singing along with Darren Criss. They sounded terrific together.
They sang of “Piece of My Heart.”
This week June Squibb was there, singing and dancing with Chris Colfer. The woman can belt! Not only was June Squibb there, but Tim Conway and Billy Dee Williams were also in the cast.
I cannot find a video of last night’s show, but you can give a listen to June and Chris singing “Memories.”
There are a lot more images Chris Colfer’s Instagram account, where he commented that Tim Conway was so funny it made him mess up hundreds of takes.
I don’t know how you feel when you see legendary elders like Shirley Maclaine and June Squibb singing along with the young folks on Glee, but it thrills me in many ways. They’re old, but they ain’t dead! The elders still have it, whatever it is. Age does not hold them back from being fabulous. It’s brilliant of Glee to honor the musical theater stars of yesterday and the traditions from which a show like Glee springs.
A hallmark of Glee‘s success is it’s ability to be inclusive. Gay, staight, trans, differently abled, young, and old – we all celebrate the joy of music and performance and everyone can be part of it. Thank you for going elder, Glee!
A couple of decades ago I realized everything in my life up to that point had been determined by men. I can hear my friend Denise shouting, “It’s the patriarchy, stupid!” That’s not it – at least not completely. The patriarchy is still with us. But inside my head, things have changed.
Let’s start with ancient history. I grew up when the movies were westerns with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Or they were war movies with Aldo Ray and Montgomery Clift. Stories were about men. Books were about men. In college, I majored in English and I read dozens of books by dead white men. Men were supposed to rule the world and women were supposed to let them. I lived with a man who controlled and manipulated everything about my life. And I let him.
Then I stopped letting him.
After that, I wanted to think some new thoughts. I wanted to learn about feminism, which had passed me by. I wanted to read books by women, I wanted to see movies about women, hear songs sung by women, and see TV shows about women.
I’m not saying I started hating men. I like men. I have a son who is the finest man you could ever know. It wasn’t about men. It was about women, about finding the feminine, about understanding the female heart and mind, about finding the essence of what it is to be a woman.
The first thing I did was start reading books by women: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danicatt, Margaret Atwood, Sara Paretsky, Amy Tan, Mary McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Dana Stabenow, Rita Mae Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, Diana Galbaldon, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Berg, Janet Evanovich, Sarah Waters, Rita Dove. I didn’t care if it was great literature or a speed-readable romance as long as it was by a woman.
No more war movies, no more westerns, no more guys coming of age (girls coming of age are acceptable), no more buddy films about guys. I became attached to films like “The Secret of Roan Inish” and “Practical Magic” and “Thelma and Louise” and “How to Make an American Quilt” that told stories about women. I decided what to go see based on who the female star was – the male star didn’t matter. Did it have Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifa, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Julie Christie, Angela Bassett, Shirley MacLaine, Holly Hunter, Halle Berry, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts? I was there.
I started to get a bit picky, a little more demanding. The woman had to really be there. Be a person who added to the film. If “The Fugitive” advertised Sela Ward and she got offed in the beginning so all we could do was watch the hero run around, I was pissed.
Television had some women to offer. There was Mary Tyler Moore. Carol Burnett. There were shows with a lot of male characters and a few memorable female characters. “China Beach” had both Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger. “Northern Exposure” had Janine Turner and several other interesting women. “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” was all Blair Brown. “Cagney and Lacey” – Woohaw! “Any Day Now” with Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint – double woohaw! The four fabulous women on “Sisters” – a quadruple woohaw.
In the last couple of years some really good female led TV has come along. “Saving Grace,” “The Closer,” “In Plain Sight,” “Hawthorne,” “The Good Wife,” “Weeds.” I’m loving it.
And, there was “The L Word.” A show that was practically all women. I so, so loved it. I thought I loved it because I liked Jennifer Beals. I watched every old Jennifer Beals movie that I’d missed over the years. I found dancers, cops, crooks, a naive housewife, a madam, a psychic, a blind wise woman, singers, liars, the bride of Frankenstein and a whole lot of other people, but I didn’t find Jennifer Beals. I only found characters. That’s when I realized the thing that really attracted me was the character of Bette Porter on “The L Word.”
Bette Porter. A strong woman who stands up for herself. She’s not perfect, but she’s powerful and inspiring and a leader. She seems very real there inside the TV. She’s who I’ve been looking for in all the books, in all the movies, in all the TV shows. She’s in the courageous politicians I look up to. She’s in the tech savvy leaders I admire like the founders of BlogHer. She’s in the organizers for charity and the women who fight against injustice. She’s in the writers who tell stories that change the world. She’s in my daughter, who’s raising a kid with no help from the father. She’s in my granddaughters, who don’t take shit from anybody.
Real women I know have courage and strength and power. Maybe even I do. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for about 20 years. I could be close to an answer.
[Reprinted from Two decades of women on First 50 Words. This post was first written in August 2010. I decided to repost it here as well because it’s relevant to why I started this blog.]
Downton Abbey begins airing in the U.S. on January 5. The 2 hour Christmas special will air at the end of the season.
In the UK, this episode will air on Christmas day.
Small spoilers in the trailer reveal that Shirley MacLaine will be back and that Paul Giamatti will be about (playing Cora’s brother).
Say hi in the comments if you are a Downton Abbey fan.
The Guardian tells us that Diane Keaton plans US remake of BBC’s Last Tango in Halifax. It will air on HBO. Sally Wainwright, the creator of the show, says she will be a producer of the American version but will not have a huge role in the production.
I know I have lots of feelings about this news, and I’m sure the dedicated Last Tango fans do, too.
First, where would it be set? I just made up the part about Santa Fe. It’s a cool place, there are ranches surrounding it, and a lot of films get made in New Mexico. It might be a sensible location for a series that needs both urban and rural settings along with great scenery. Diane Keaton has not asked for my opinion in this matter, however.
Who would be in it? Would Diane Keaton play Celia? She’s 67. What American actresses are in their 70s? Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, Julie Christie, Candice Bergen are a few possible names. So we have talent in that age category, but American women don’t look their age. That’s a bit of a problem. Do we want to see anyone who doesn’t look as genuine Anne Reid in the role?
There are simply tons of older men to choose from for Alan. Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Peter Coyote and dozens more. But I so like Derek Jacobi’s sweet and loving Alan. Some swaggering American who is used to waving a gun around just doesn’t feel right. And 70 year-old American men still fancy themselves leading men who should be snaring women 30 and 40 years younger than themselves. That’s a bit of a problem, too. As for the feckless John, Tony Gardner was perfection in this part. Who could equal that?
What about Caroline and Gillian and Kate? Remember my dream actress pairing of Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals? Think they’d make a good Caroline and Kate? Other actresses in their 40s abound, include Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Renée Zellweger and lots more. But I’m sort of convinced that Sarah Lancashire is irreplaceable as Caroline. Nicola Walker in her jeans and Converse sneakers brings such nuance and subtlety to Gillian.
Casting is a challenge. Adapting the dialog and locations will be a challenge as well. Diane Keaton has taken on a huge task to make this wonderful story American. I wish her well, and I wish her great luck finding the right people to do the writing and casting and create the sets.
I’m really attached to Last Tango in Halifax. Even so, Diane Keaton is trustworthy, in my opinion. If anyone can make a love story about older adults shine, it should be Diane Keaton. Who knows, I may love the American version of this tale of second chances as much as I do the British one.
When I get attached to a show, like the Millennium series in Swedish (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) I feel a vague dread at the arrival of American versions. Then I go see it (of course) and I like it on it’s own merit. It isn’t the same as the original, but it still has the characters and the story and I end up enjoying both versions. I’m ready to see what happens to this lovely British tale of second chances. Go, Diane!
One extra good piece of good news from The Guardian post is,
The second series of Last Tango In Halifax, one of BBC1’s biggest-rating new shows of 2012, launches next month and a third is planned.
A big hurrah for season 3.
Diane Keaton image © 2003 Columbia Pictures