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Randee Dawn

Journalist | Author | Storyteller

Film roles for women have seen old tropes fall away and full-fledged human beings emerge

These are interesting times to play a woman in a Hollywood movie. On the one hand, the numbers still aren’t great: The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film study “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” noted that in 2018 females comprised 35% of all speaking characters — up just one percentage point from 2017.

On the other hand, the last two lead actress Oscar winners were for very nontraditional portrayals: Olivia Colman in “The Favourite” and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Comme ci comme ça?

Now, take a closer look at this year’s offerings. Yes, there may still be room for a greater quantity of female roles, but what’s clear this awards season is that the quality of them has skyrocketed. Consider: a historic hero (“Harriet”), a prison warden (“Clemency”), an astronaut (“Lucy in the Sky”), journalists facing off with their creepy boss (“Bombshell”), an actress turned civil rights crusader (“Seberg”) and even a few more traditional, but nuanced, women (“The Farewell,” “Gloria Bell,” “Laundromat,” “Little Women”) are all vying for berths at ceremonies next year.

That’s a welcome change, however you slice it.

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Willem Dafoe can tell which of his films fans have watched as they approach him

Willem Dafoe seems to have always been with us. Wisconsin-born, he came up through New York theater and got sacked from his first film gig — 1980’s “Heaven’s Gate” for, as he once noted, laughing during a quiet moment on set. He’s gone on to appear in more than 100 movies since and now it’s hard to imagine a part he couldn’t play, given the opportunity.

Dafoe has four Oscar nominations — “Platoon” (1987), “Shadow of the Vampire” (2001), “The Florida Project” (2018) and “At Eternity’s Gate” (2019) — but no wins. Perhaps that will change this year with his intense turns in “The Lighthouse” and “Motherless Brooklyn.” And even if not, there’s no doubt that he’ll continue to work, because that’s what he does.

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Can a man tell a woman’s story? ‘Lucy in the Sky’ director Noah Hawley thinks so

Noah Hawley is not interested in making things easy for you. His razor-sharp adaptation of the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” for TV and three mind-bending seasons of “Legion” have been meaty, thoughtful explorations of mental illness and the nature of evil. Now, in his debut feature film, “Lucy in the Sky,” he’s homed in on a brilliant astronaut who loses her moorings back home. Hawley sat with The Envelope at New York’s SoHo House to talk about “Lucy,” the male gaze — and a startlingly personal essay the usually private writer-director shared on Medium just a few days earlier.

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Did ‘Days’ Skip a Beat With Julie’s New Heart? Ask the Experts!

Over the past few weeks, Julie Williams (Susan Seaforth Hayes) went through hell on Days of our Lives: She had a heart attack, was left for dead by Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus) who thought she was faking, she made it to the hospital, learned she was too old for a heart transplant, fell into a coma – and miraculously woke up with a new heart, courtesy of Dr. Kayla Johnson’s (Mary Beth Evans) superior transplant skills… and the late Stefan O. DiMera (Brandon Barash). But it all moved so fast our hearts were left racing – along with our thoughts. So Soaps.com spoke with two experts: Anne Paschke, spokesperson for the United Network for Organ Sharing, and Dr. Maria Mountis, a staff cardiologist in heart failure and heart transplant at the Department of Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, to find out how many of these (heart) beats actually made sense.

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Television — Sidney Kimmel’s Next Act Bows at Mipcom

During the course of his 91 years, Sidney Kimmel has accomplished a lot. That includes making a few videos for web series “Old Jews Telling Jokes.”

“John’s fault,” he says. “He dragged me over there and said, ‘You’ll get a free drink and a dinner out of it.’”

John is independent movie producer-financier John Penotti, a longtime friend and now business partner in S.K. Global. Penotti had been heading up Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Pictures when it merged in 2017 with Kimmel’s S.K. Entertainment, and that merger, which introduced TV producing into Kimmel’s vast wheelhouse, proves this particular nonagenarian is far from done with learning new tricks.

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S.K. Global Makes Mipcom Debut With ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Under Its Belt

“To me, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, maybe we should wake up one morning and try something different. How about we try television?’”

John Penotti, producer-financier and co-founder of GreeneStreet, one of New York City’s more long-lived independent film companies — it was acquired in 2013 after 16 years — is explaining just how he ended up at Mipcom for the first time this year. On the surface, it’s logical: He’s co-CEO of S.K. Global, an international studio aiming to create high-end content outside the U.S. for both film and television.

But really, how did one of indie film’s driving forces end up making TV?

“It was more that we find ourselves in television,” he says. “Not by default, but by opportunity.”

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Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers have more opportunities than ever to consume short form and episodic content.

“It’s a really exciting time to be someone who is in the storytelling business,” says Nazanin Rafsanjani, head of new show development at Gimlet, home to “Homecoming,” which was turned into an Amazon series starring Julia Roberts, “Start Up” and “Crimetown.” “We’re really trying to push the limit of what’s possible in audio.”

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Swizz Beatz Talks Executive Producing The ‘Godfather Of Harlem’ Soundtrack: “It’s Like Meeting Heritage With Today”

Flashback: It’s 1963. It’s Harlem, New York. Gangster Bumpy Johnson, freshly released from Alcatraz, has just made a handshake alliance with activist Malcolm X: they’re going to use X’s manpower and Johnson’s guns to clean up a drug-infested part of the hood.

It’s a scene straight out of Epix’s new drama series Godfather Of Harlem (premiering Sept. 29), and while it might surprise a few viewers, what comes next is even more startling: the soundtrack kicks in. Dave East and A$AP Ferg kick it with a beat straight outta the future, with “Business is Business,” a track that unspools with slick modern production and street-smart, trap-influenced rap vocals that are perfectly in sync with 2019—and yet, also 1963. It’s a neat musical trick that joins the past with the present, aligning history with an emotional undercurrent that resonates in the new millennium.

But that was always the intention.

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Was ‘Y&R’ Trippin’ With Drugged-Up-Drink Storyline? Ask the Experts!

Last week on Young and the Restless Zoe (Anna Grace Barlow) turned the Grand Phoenix opening into a Grand Guignol (sort of) by dumping Ecstasy into the sangria, leading to shenanigans and a rushed call for medical help when Sharon (Sharon Case) collapsed and Devon (Bryton James) sweated up the couch amid a panic attack. But let’s get real: how would this have played out in real life? Soaps.com phoned up Ashley McGee, RN and Director of Nursing at Mountainside Treatment Center to get the scoop on drinks spiked with drugs.

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You’ve heard of the Emmy Awards, now take in our top moments with the Envy Awards

However long an Emmy ceremony is, it’s impossible to honor all the great moments our ever-expanding universe of TV hands us each year. (Nor can we find enough time to razz the more questionable happenings.) Fortunately, there’s plenty of space right here to point out the best, brightest and plain oddest moments from the past year of television. We give you the Envy Awards!

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