The Dovekeepers

Tonight and tomorrow night, the four-hour mini series The Dovekeepers airs on CBS.

At once epic and intimate, The Dovekeepers is based on the novel by Alice Hoffman about the seige of Masada. Masada was a Jewish stronghold atop a mountain in the Judean desert. The key part of the story involves women whose roles were to care for the doves in a large dove cote.

With food and water available, the Jews at Masada managed to hang on for a very long time, but eventually were overwhelmed. Masada was set upon by Roman armies in 70 C.E. Almost everyone died. The dovekeepers were among the few survivors.

The novel, which told this famous historical tale from the point of view of women, was published in 2011. I read the book and found it excellent, so I have high hopes for this mini series.

Here are previews and interviews about the mini series.

The starring roles are played by Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan, and Kathryn Prescott as the dovekeepers.

Roma Downey is the executive producer of the mini series.

Images © 2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.


High Cinema: Drug Use in Film (Infographic)

Here’s another interesting infographic from the Film School at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. I’m only showing you part of this encyclopedic infographic full of information about drugs in film.

You can view the complete infographic at the New York Film Academy site. It contains further sections on usage, representation, and perception.

Infographic from New York Film Academy
Infographic from New York Film Academy

I remember Reefer Madness being a topic in the anti-drug talks we got in high school. It was considered pretty hilarious at the time.

Gloria Steinem on “Chick Flicks”

Gloria Steinem blogs about books at Open Roads Media. The blog is called “Reading our way to the Revolution.” The once monthly column looks at a timeless and timely book.  Her latest review is about The Group, a 1963 novel by Mary McCarthy.  The Group is the latest review of a book that helped start the feminist revolution.

The Group book cover

I read The Group back in 1963. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do. It’s a great read. This story of 8 women who graduated from Vassar in 1933 lead directly to the more current Sex and the City. And it was a bestseller, destroying the myth that chick lit would never make it. The Group was made into a movie, dubbed a chick flick.

I love what Gloria Steinem has to say about chick flicks and want to quote it:

In truth, anything that has more dialogue than deaths, more emphasis on how we live than how we die, may be called a “chick flick.” Hollywood’s preference for movies full of high-tech chases and gun battles rests mainly on the fact that they can be exported without language problems. Yet dollar for dollar spent on production, so-called “chick flicks” are equally or more profitable than those “prick flicks” seen multiple times by teenage boys.

I am so sick and tired of prick flicks. All that killing, all that shooting, all that violence. And for what? How does it help anything, fix anything, cure anything, change anything?

It’s the stories about people, about real life, that change the world. Stories that reach into our hearts and make us think. Stories create change. Think about The Color Purple or Glee or Transparent or My Left Foot or The L Word or Selma or a hundred other stories that impacted our culture in a positive way. We need more stories that help us understand each other, see each other, accept each other, learn from each other.

Long live the chick flick! Thank you to every filmmaker, every writer, every director, every actor who tells a story that would qualify as a chick flick.

3 Reasons Archie Panjabi’s Unforgettable Kalinda Sharma Deserves a Great Send Off

Archie Panjabi sounds ready to hang it up in this tweet.

If I were Archie Panjabi, I’d have mixed emotions about leaving The Good Wife. Archie’s had a landmark role on a great show. Her character Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife was a cultural pioneer in many ways. Yet Archie Panjabi is making news because she’s leaving The Good Wife before its run is finished.

Lately Kalinda has been stuck away in a minor plot line where she plays a terrified baby sitter for Lamond Bishop (Mike Colter). If she’s left in this powerless spot, she will just fade away. Kalinda can’t just fade away.

Here are my 3 top reasons why she deserves a great send off when she leaves the show at the end of season 6.

1. Kalinda brings the diversity

Kalinda in her leather jacket

Before everyone was trying to score diversity points by having a woman of color in their cast, Archie Panjabi was bringing diversity to The Good Wife. This award winning actress wasn’t stereotyped as some ridiculous ethnic character, she was the investigator for a law firm, a multi-layered, complex woman.

Before Shonda Rhimes had 3 shows, before Orange is the New Black brought a rainbow of characters into stardom, Kalinda was there.

2. Kalinda is bisexual

Kalinda looks at the camera

Kalinda was one of very few bisexual characters on TV for a time, and it was no big deal. It was simply Kalinda. She broke ground for other bi characters to follow.

3. Kalinda is THE MOST BADASS

Kalinda and Alicia have a drink

In a cast full of amazing women including her bosses, one of whom was Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), Kalinda takes the badass prize every time.

Diane and Kalinda in an office

Kalinda can out-badass her other badass boss, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski).

Kalinda can find any answer, solve any problem, crack any case in the service of her lawyer bosses. She is brilliant at badass.

And then there’s her badass wardrobe. The leather, the boots. Kalinda Sharma in leather is the iconic badass look. Before Bo (Anna Silk) took leather to sexy heights in Lost Girl, there was Kalinda looking professionally dangerous in leather. Kalinda could stand beside Alicia or Diane in their couture suits and dresses and look like she belonged in an office. She belonged in the office, but she was different: sexier, more dangerous, mysterious. Archie Panjabi owned that leather with her posture, her attitude, her dark-eyed stare.

The Send Off

Creators Michelle King and Robert King have written brilliantly on The Good Wife with an array of complicated characters and pointed plots. I’m hoping they’ve figured out a fantastic way for us to say goodbye to Kalinda – a way that makes us happy she’s leaving and lets the cast give her a lot of love along the way. I hope she has a show or two to take the lead, drive the plot, and finally take her leave for a logical reason.

Lately the names Mulder and Scully have been in the news. Nobody has to explain those names. Everyone knows them. We know who Buffy Summers is. We know who Bette Porter is. We know who Thelma and Louise are. Through some magic of writing and casting, some characters become icons. Archie Panjabi created Kalinda Sharma with such power that she’s reached iconic. Kalinda Sharma is loved by many, and valued by many as a symbol. Kalinda Sharma will not be forgotten.

Many thanks to Michelle and Robert King for writing her to be the badass we love, and many millions of thanks to Archie Panjabi for bringing her to life as an unforgettable character.

She will be missed.

The X Files is Coming Back!

I don’t know if Mulder is ready, but the audience out here (me!) is ready. Yep, ready for all 6 new episodes of The X Files promised to us by FOX.

David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson will be back as Mulder and Scully
David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson will be back as Mulder and Scully

Yippee! We’re gonna get more stories with David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. A 13 year hiatus is plenty long. Too long. The X Files creator Chris Carter told TV Line, “The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”

Sure, Forbes cynically states that the only reason this is happening is for Netflix’s streaming rights. It ain’t for the fans, says Forbes. I guess the folks at Forbes think everything else that happens on TV or in the movies isn’t done for money.

There’s no word on whether the story will take up where it left off 13 years ago to tie up loose ends or will be a stand alone mini-series. It wouldn’t hurt to binge watch all 9 years worth of past episodes, just to be ready. You can never be too ready for a new conspiracy, right?

I’m actually happy the revival is only going to be 6 episodes. Wonderful as this nostalgic return of an old favorite may be, I don’t want anything to distract Gillian Anderson from the time needed to fulfill her true purpose in life: playing Stella Gibson on The Fall.

The mini-series starts filming this summer. An air date has not been announced.

Several Peeks at Orphan Black Season 3

The latest preview for Orphan Black season 3 indicates that a theme of the new season will be what happens when the male clones and the female clones interact. Based on this clip of a meeting between Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) and Rudy (Ari Millen), things might be a bit fraught in the extended family.

Sarah doesn’t like that the probably insane clone we saw a glimpse of at the end of season 2 knows all about her family, including Kira (Skyler Wexler), Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Sarah knows nothing about this guy, not even his name, and he knows everything about her.

Oh dear, does that glimpse of Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) mean she’s running things regarding all the clones, not just Cosima? Very mysterious.

The, “Count your sisters,” line is ominously suggestive as well. Are there more clones? Another of the previews below suggests that there might be more female clones as well.

We’ve enjoyed the virtuoso performance as a number of clones from Tatiana Maslany for two seasons. It looks like Ari Millen is prepared to do an equally outstanding job with his batch of characters. I suspect the number of male clones will be revealed slowly. That’s how it was done with the females, and it builds suspense through the season.

Much as I want to see where the addition of the male clones to the story takes us, I’m still interested in several things from season 2:

  • What about Sarah and Cal (Michiel Huisman)?
  • Does Cosima recover and what about her relationship with Delphine?
  • Where is Helena and what’s happening to her? Will she ever see Jesse (Patrick J. Adams) again?
  • Will Allison get her act together?
  • Will Tony be back?

I hope the male clones don’t steal too much story time from the characters we already know and love.

In an article from Spoiler Room, producer John Fawcett talked about Cosima and answered at least one of my questions about season 3.

…This season will really be focused—at least for Cosima—on the nature of science vs. faith. “The interesting thing about Cosima is she came very close to dying and that wasn’t something that we took lightly,” executive producer John Fawcett says. “That wasn’t something that we did to try and scare the audience, that really was the beginning of a new journey for Cosima in season 3. The fact that she has come that close to death, that she essentially had a near-death experience, changes her because she can’t explain what happened to her. It puts this character, who is so entrenched in the science, in this place where she’s now looking for answers beyond science.”

Here are some previews that were released earlier than the one above.

The “This is War” Preview

The “Calling All Clones” Preview

The First Official Trailer for Season 3

I already published this one, but it doesn’t hurt to see it again.

Orphan Black begins on BBC America on April 18. In case you are like me and don’t have BBC America, you can buy the season on iTunes or Amazon Prime. The episodes are usually available on those platforms the morning after they air live.

Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris

Hello, My Name is Doris screened at SXSW to very good reviews and won a SXSW Film Festival Audience Award. I haven’t seen any news about it being picked up for distribution, but I want to mention the film just in case. I’ll keep an eye out on streaming services as well as for potential theater distribution. Continue reading “Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris”

Kerry Washington at GLAAD Gives Best Acceptance Speech Ever!

Kerry Washington received a Vanguard Award at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards ceremony over the weekend. She gave a powerful speech that tells the truth in eloquent and inspiring terms.

Everyone should memorize this speech and repeat it to everyone they know. I’m working on that very thing by playing it over and over.

Other GLAAD Media Award winners for 2015 included The Imitation Game, How to Get Away with Murder, Transparent plus several more winners.

Two New Shows: One Big Happy and iZombie

Two new shows hit the schedule this week. I took a look at them. Here are my reactions to these new offerings. Both air on the same night, which is why I thought these two very different series should be lumped into one review. Just go with it.

One Big Happy

One Big Happy stars Nick Zano, Elisha Cuthbert and Kelly Brook
One Big Happy stars Nick Zano, Elisha Cuthbert and Kelly Brook

With Ellen DeGeneres on board as producer and with Liz Feldman as creator, I was expecting One Big Happy to hook me right away. It didn’t.

One Big Happy is a typical sitcom with characters who say their lines as if they were shouting to the people in the nosebleed section, improbable situations, and not very funny jokes.

One Big Happy stars Elisha Cuthbert as a lesbian. Her best friend, played by Nick Zano, agrees to have a baby with her. Along comes a pretty English lass played by Kelly Brook and the couple turns into a strange triangle.

I like the setup. The actors are attractive, but the characters did nothing for me. I just couldn’t get into it.

I wanted so much to like this show with a leading lesbian character, but if they brought out their best for the pilot episode, I’m not sure I’ll continue watching. I’ll give it another chance, because I want to be a devoted fan. I’m just not convinced that’s going to happen.


Rose McIver stars in iZombie
Rose McIver stars in iZombie

iZombie, on the other hand, while wildly improbable situation-wise, was more interesting and showcased characters who are far more charming. Even the undead character is likeable.

iZombie stars Rose McIver as the zombie, Liv Moore. (Liv Moore, get it?) Liv is a doctor who gets killed and turns into a zombie. She changes jobs to work in the morgue where she has a steady supply of stolen brains for dinner. Also working in the morgue is Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), who doesn’t mind being around a zombie. He is the only person who realizes that Liv is among the undead.

When Liv eats a brain, she gets crime-solving visions about the person’s death and is very quickly indispensable to Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), a cop.

iZombie is a DC Comics show, with Rob Thomas as producer. It switches from comic drawings to live action sometimes, a juxtaposition that adds to the funky charm of the story.

Even though zombies have been done to infinity and shows with lesbians as main characters are rare, my reactions to these two series were the opposite of what I expected. I enjoyed the undead doctor and was bored by the pregnant lesbian.

Did you watch either of these? What did you think?

Sarah Jones Brings Everywoman to the World

Sarah Jones as herself.
Sarah Jones herself.

Is everywoman really a word? If it isn’t, it must be allowed in the case of Sarah Jones. Sarah Jones, alone on a stage, brings with her the perceptions of women from everywhere and shares them at the UN, at Davos, at TED, and on Broadway. Sometimes she brings a couple of men with her.

With many voices, many personas, Sarah Jones creates theater and performance art about women’s issues. With no more than a scarf or a hat, she changes from one woman to another instantly.

For a quick look at some of her characters, check her site sarahjonesonline. The opening page gives you a chance to see and hear several of her characters, which she refers to as her friends.

Sarah Jones as Praveen
Sarah Jones as Praveen

At the United Nations, Sarah’s friends spoke about laws that discriminate against women in Women Can’t Wait. The performance was jointly organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Equality Now. Here is the 1st of 7 parts, in which Sarah portrays an Indian woman named Praveen. For more videos in this series and the words from other Jones personas who show up to talk about equality at the UN, check YouTube.

Sarah Jones is from a multiethnic, multiracial family. Some of those family members find their way into her characters. She attended the UN school as a child and met people from all over the world. Her background and education came together in a Tony Award winning combination that help her both see and be everywoman.

She brings a deep understanding of women’s issues and women’s history to her writing. She’s currently working on Sell/Buy/Date, which tackles issues of human trafficking and the sex trade. Her past work includes Bridge & Tunnel about laws discriminating against women and girls, and A Right to Care about inequality in health care.

In an interview on NPR’s TED Radio Hour titled “What’s The Line Between Stereotyping, Celebrating Culture?” she talked about her TED Talks. (She’s done two TED talks.) Jones said she uses her characters to try to promote truly honest conversation. When asked about stereotyping, she said she tries to portray people as honestly as possible without stripping away the humanity.

Her TED talk at the What Does the Future Hold saw her bring 11 characters with her to the stage to answer questions about the future.

Sarah Jones as Ms. Lady
Sarah Jones as Ms. Lady

One of Jones’ characters is a homeless woman named Ms. Lady. She spoke on the stage at The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the first homeless woman ever to appear on that stage.

This is Women’s History Month. Sarah Jones is a woman worthy of mention particularly during this month of celebrating significant women and their contributions. Yes, Sarah Jones is gifted in terms of creating and performing with voices and accents. But when you talk about her to others, don’t forget to mention that she is a brilliant writer and activist. She uses her gift for voices and accents to create the humor, emotion and human connection that allow her to tell stories about matters of vital concern to women everywhere. Connecting to women’s stories is a first step in creating change. Sarah Jones is definitely a woman who makes a difference.

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