Friday, June 20, 2008

If You Make It Fabulous, Women Will Come…

In the admittedly fading shock of the record-breaking $57 million opening weekend of “Sex and the City: The Movie,” the media and the industry are still reeling from the now-proven fact that WOMEN SEE MOVIES!!!!!?! Like it’s some earth-shattering, blow-your-hair-back epiphany among the historical likes of THE EARTH IS ROUND!!! and SMOKING CAUSES CANCER!!

But why exactly is this a revelation of blockbuster proportions? I, along with others rockin’ the lovely lady lumps, have spent the better part of three weeks pondering this exact question. I do understand that I am a woman who loves movies. In high school, I worked at a movie theater. In college, I arranged my work and class schedules so I was free one day a week before noon to take the bus to the AMC 18 and watch one (or two) movies. As an adult, I saw “ Troy ” a whoppin’ three times just in the theater. I understand that I walk to the beat of my own drum. However, for an industry that created the entire “If you build it, they will come,” mantra, it’s actually insulting to think that Hollywood execs see young men 18-34 as THE demographic, but don’t think the same of their female counterparts.

In all actuality, the answer is simple. You don’t need test screenings and market research to figure out what “Sex” proved and what television showrunners already figured out: women will see GOOD movies, just like they flock to GOOD television shows as proven by “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Closer,” “Lipstick Jungle,” and “Ugly Betty.” With its multi-Emmy-Winning six seasons on HBO, “Sex and the City” already won over the hearts of singletons and marriedtons alike. The advent of DVDs and the extraordinary word of mouth helped catapult the show into a new, bigger arena of popularity. (I watched 2 weeks of nothing but “Sex and the City” when cable went out in my apartment. And I am teased for listening to the smooth vocal stylings of Michael Patrick King’s episode commentaries when I’m writing. I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD just for that reason.)

Furthermore, the astounding success of the “Juno,” the underappreciated "Definitely, Maybe" and “The Devil Wears Prada” just drive my point home. Women want movies that yes, have a bit of flash and glamour and fairytalish whimsy, but are also poignant, unformulaic and emotionally grounded. In short, they want their movies to be just like “Sex,” unpredictable and unbelievably satisfying. Contrarily, Hollywood seems to think that all women just like fluffy, asinine predictable rom-coms ("Made of Honor" and "What Happens in Vegas) in which our buxom, blonde, bubbly heroine obsesses about marriage, babies, and the men that did them wrong.

I sincerely hope the success of “Sex and the City” prompts Hollywood to look for insightful, provocative scripts about women of all ages, shapes and colors that are genuinely good, action-packed and dramatic and yes, emotional. But tinseltown moviermakers be warned: while you’re undoubtedly rushing to crank out 18 “SATC”-copycats, please note that like Carrie Bradshaw and Co., we don’t do knockoffs.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Embrace the D-List, Bitches!

Months after the writer’s strike, it is still making ripples in my life, which is obviously consumed by pop cult entertainment. “Grey’s Anatomy” finally rediscovers the fabulousness that made it the show to watch during the strike-induced hiatus just in time for the season finale. I also miss first season shows that just discovered their dynamic and identity, like NBC’s “Life” and ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money.” And I know what you’re saying, there’s always the promising new crop of summer shows, (“The Closer” and “Burn Notice”), right? Well, I’m still bitter about USA’s premature cancellation of “The 4400” and the aforementioned shows don’t start until July. So I’m facing a sweltering stretch of humid Midwestern summer, and I see nothing long, slow, hot ride to September. (Unless there’s another strike.)

But, there is a bright, rainbow just beyond the horizon! It is the wonderful, fantastic, guilty pleasure, the-so-wrong-it’s-right, and Emmy-winning, “My Life on the D-List” starring everyone’s favorite comic, Kathy Griffin! The June 12th premiere of this fab reality show soothed the slow-healing bruise left by the fucking writer’s strike.

If you’re not familiar with her (SHAME ON YOU!), Kathy Griffin is an extremely hardworking, hilarious comedian, who’s schtick is sharing real-life stories about celebrities, and because of this, she claims to have been banned from pretty much every major daytime and nighttime talk show. Her reality show catalogs her fight for publicity, awards and general media mayhem! Already in its fourth season, Kathy’s back with her shiny new Emmy that was received of course with controversy. And we know that celebs have given her plenty of material lately with the trainwrecks of Britney and Amy Winehouse; and the fertility situations with the younger Spears, Nicole Richie and even Ashlee Simpson.

Kathy Griffin is like the crazy aunt you always wanted. She’ll say anything and everything that comes to mind, and 74% of the time, it’s exactly what you were thinking or blogging. I also love that she takes her career seriously enough to protect her assets with a money manager and a gaggle of lawyers; but she’s willing to strip down to her bra or badmouth Oprah at an awards show filled with The Big O’s friends to get that priceless laugh. KG loves what she does, does it well, and works harder than those bitches on “The OC-Laguna-Hills-Gossip-Girl” combined. She might be rude and sometimes off-putting and on 24/7, but she’s a flipping hoot. And I’d move to Cali right now if I had the chance to work with her. Even with the heat and shit!
Now that this has turned into a love letter to Kathy Griffin, I’m going to end this meandering blog with a shameless plug: Watch “My Life on the D-List” on Bravo every Thursday at 10 EST.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Katherine Heigl Needs to be "Knocked" Down a Peg

Katherine Heigl has made me look like an ass; and I hate looking like an ass. In the past two years, Heigl has earned reputation for being a bit of an arrogant bitch. But I always defended her, time and time again, because she was a gorgeous, fearless actor who was finally getting the break she deserved in “Grey’s Anatomy”—my favorite show on television (Sorry, “Supernatural”).

I applauded her for standing firm on contract negotiations when she and several of her co-stars weren’t be paid as much as the usually annoying Ellen Pompeo and the ducky Patrick Dempsey ($150,000+ an episode? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!)

I thought she was being a good friend when she brazenly spoke her mind about Isaiah Washington’s shenanigans at the Golden Globes.

I thought she was wonderfully charming when she accepted her Emmy last year.

I thought she was terrific in “27 Dresses.”

I thought she was misquoted when she said that “Knocked Up” was a bit sexist, even though, she made these comments to a magazine about the movie that launched her into an entirely different echelon of fame.

Then she released this statement: "I am truly grateful for the honor that the Academy bestowed upon me last year. I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the Academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."

To borrow from those soft-core “Gossip Girl” ads, WTF? Not only is this a great disrespect to the writers of “Grey’s”—who wrote that gut-wrenchingly emotional storyline, created the character Denny Douquette, and basically helped her get that Emmy. But she is assuming that her work would even be nominated this year, when “Grey’s” was off its game and jumping dozens of sharks. (Callie as a lesbian?!)

It is no secret that Heigl wants off “Grey’s” to focus on her film career, nor is it a secret that the writing has severely lacked in the past year. While I admit that the writers turned her character into a raving lunatic who actually used her surgical skill to save a deer’s life, the statement was a proverbial slap to the face of the show that launched her career. I love Heigl’s talent, and I can even understand that she’s frustrated with the quality of the show (that seems to be finding its way back to bright and shiny by this season’s end), but without “Grey’s” she wouldn’t have had a film career to focus on, or a shiny Emmy sitting above her fireplace. And will someone please tell her that “27 Dresses” wasn’t that great?

To the commonfolk of America, who can’t throw a temper tantrum when their dream jobs go awry and are worried about their (crappy) job security and how they will afford gas this week, she is coming off more like a spoiled brat who didn’t get her way, and not a talented actress who wants to do the honorable, respectful thing.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sex and the Shitty: Opening Night Event

The anticipation and preparation that went into attending the “Sex and the City” movie on opening night was much more like getting read to attend a fabulous A-list event than simply going to the movies. K, who relishes going to the theater in her Nikes and favorite jeans, unveiled her new Vera Wang sweater (okay, it’s the line from Kohls department stores) and my finest heels (well, again, Kohls) for the event. And, inspired by Carrie Bradshaw herself, I went along with two other couples, one married and one seriously dating. Yes, that’s right folks, K was the fifth wheel, and I rocked it in true Carrie Bradshaw spirit.

Along with a nation of other “SATC” fans, we had dinner and drinks before the show, and then strapped on our stilettos and headed down to a beautiful landmark theater in our fair city. After finding out that heels and dark movie theaters don’t mix, the movie began to the applause of thousands of eager fans.

“Sex and the City: The Movie” is a glitzy two-hour reunion with Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda in a better-than-decent movie version of the hit HBO show. While the acting, the humor and the majority of the writing was, well, fabulous, I felt the first forty-minutes of the movie was terribly and obviously manipulative. I don’t want to spoil too much about the plot, (but honestly, if you paid attention to the first round of trailers released earlier in the year, you can figure out what happens), but I’ll just say Big lets Carrie down in a Big way; Miranda gets to be very Miranda-like, and Samantha has moved to LA to manage Smith Jerrod’s career (which must be crackin’ considering he couldn’t muster up a single tear or convincing facial expression during his short scenes with the always-funny Kim Cattrall). And Jason Lewis has aged more than the 51-year-old Kim Cattrall. Seriously, stay out of the sun, dude.

What I did enjoy, besides the slapstick comedy of Kim Cattrall and the always preppy Charlotte, was that it followed the girls through very different, problems and it stayed emotionally grounded without dragging the mood of the viewer down. Whether it was through fashion, patented “SATC” puns or one of the girls shitting their pants, the gut-wrenchingly dramatic moments were always peppered with much-needed levity to keep the audience from crying into their smuggled in cosmos.

Sadly, my favorite character, Charlotte, didn’t have much of a storyline, but she was allowed some zingers with the entire Big-Carrie debacle. She was blissfully happy, and felt guilty about being happy, especially when she discovered she was pregnant. I wished they would have found a way to give her some sort of drama in her marriage with Harry. But I supposed some people are happy in their marriages and go through wonderful turmoil-free parts of their lives. As a writer, that’s the part we skip over.

I imagined the movie would follow the very tight, snappy pacing of the show and that it would be written like five episodes as opposed to one long one. But it wasn’t. Carrie’s voiceovers all have to do with what happens after you find love (it was the topic of the book her character was writing), but with the length of the movie, it was hard to remember what the voiceovers were referencing and the central point was muddled in few of the lagging bits of the movie, like most of the Jennifer Hudson arc and a lengthy montage of a “Vogue” fashion shoot.

Ultimately, Michael Patrick King, the writer-director (and my fucking hero), managed to recapture most of the spark that ignited the popularity of “Sex and the City” the TV show. Admittedly, some of the fabulousness was a bit contrived and evoked a been-there, done-that reaction. But it was wonderful to see the girls on the screen, and even better to be excited about a movie, an event, that dealt more with love and fashion, not transforming cars and billionaires in iron suits. “Sex and the City: The Movie” is a chance for women to dress up in celebration of themselves, regardless of their dating status or how designer the label.