The Wednesday Five: Famous Faces, Iranian Poets, and What Anjelica Huston Now Knows

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies, Newsmakers, Theater


Photo: Leo Reynolds (flickr)

This week’s blog assortment turned out purely aspirational, from an interview with Iran’s greatest living poet, to honors for Ada Lovelace Day, the country’s first computer programmer, to Anjelica Huston reflecting on what she knows now that she didn’t at 20.

  • We’ve often featured Tish Jett’s A Femme d’un Certain Age, but we agree with WVFC’s Stacey Bewkes that this week Jett has outdone herself with Famous Faces of a Certain Age. Click over for iconic and new photos of Toni Morrison, Gloria Steinem, Brigitte Bardot, Dominique Sanda, and many others, well-narrated: “As Jacqueline pointed out yesterday, broaden the issue, ‘Let’s discuss what makes these women beautiful.’  Someone else said, ‘They are themselves with a vengeance.’ How great is that?”
  • In her Fall Theater Review at Broadway & Me, Jan Simpson calls our attention to the latest work by one of our most beloved actors: “Linda Lavin passed on both the chance to play the showbiz trouper Hattie Walker who sings “Broadway Baby” in Follies and the role of the aunt in Other Desert Cities so that she could portray the mother in The Lyons, Nicky Silver’s new play about a family struggling to come to terms with the death of the husband and father who bound them together. Mark Brokaw is directing the play, which is being done at the Vineyard Theatre. I don’t know anything more about it than that. But if it’s good enough for the prodigiously talented Lavin to give up a shot at two Broadway shows, that’s more than good enough for me.”
  • Did you know that this Friday is Ada Lovelace Day, dedicated to women in science, technology, engineering, and math? We just found out, and the birthday of the country’s first computer programmer is worth both a cheer and a push to embrace the next generation. At Big Think, Megan Ericksen asks the not-yet-obsolete question, “Where Are All the Women Scientists?” With video of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Science Foundation, Ericksen says they’re not born without early encouragement: “Of course there’s nothing wrong with a long, financially-dependent life in the liberal arts, but there is something amiss when you’ve decided — or been told — that you’re just no good at math and science before you’ve hit fifteen. As teachers and parents will attest, whatever sociological forces are dividing women and men into paths as nurses or radiologists, daycare providers or professors, they are in full swing by high school.”
  • We’re guessing that Jacki Lyden —WVFC contributor, NPR journalist, and author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba —  will be glad to to see Guernica Magazine‘s interview with Iran’s most prominent poet, two-time Nobel nominee, Simin Behbahāni, who speaks about “the greatest epic in history, the nightmare of censorship, and why her country will eventually achieve democracy.” The poet, writes interviewer Shiva Rahnbaran, “is optimistic about where Persian thought and literature are headed despite Iranian society’s many post-revolution disillusionments.”
  • Also optimistic, it seems, is Anjelica Huston, who just gave a series of  interviews at Style Goes Strong, the new style section of Life Goes Strong. In the second, she answers our perpetual question, What Do You Now Know That You Didn’t Know When You were 20? A lot, apparently: “I don’t think you want life to just be the same old, same old. You don’t want it to be old hat. I still want to feel my nerves sizzling. For instance, I just started on a new series called ‘Smash’ about Broadway and it’s filmed in NYC. I moved from California to New York and I’ll be in a brand new city for six or seven months of the year now… I’ve been living in California for the past 30 years. I took my dogs and moved into an apartment in New York. I can’t believe that I moved cross country! Life is changing very fast for me now, but at the same time it’s not a bad thing. All my friends are saying it’s good. Yes, it’s scary, but what I know now that I didn’t know when I was younger is that change is not a bad thing. It’s new and it’s good. You embrace your fears and you just do it.” Below, two clips — one of Huston’s dazzling 20-something debut in Prizzi’s Honor, and one talking about her new film, 50/50:





The Wednesday Five: The Failure of Fairness, Elves on Broadway, Concerns About Retirement Age and The Twinkie Diet

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under World

This week from the blogosphere: a look at the new “Twinkie diet,” some sobering numbers about the pay gap and Social Security, a blogger’s stardust memories, and a glowing review from Broadway & Me of a perhaps-unlikely Hollywood-to-stage story.

  • We first heard about the failure of the Senate to tackle the Paycheck Fairness Act from Liz O’Donnell’s Hello Ladies, which followed up soon after with some solid facts in So the Wage Gap Continues. Noting that over a lifetime, that gap costs college-educated women $1.2 million, and $2 million for a professional school graduate, O’Donnell says that to take “the economic security – of women – and their families and turn it into a partisan issue” is “shameful…absolutely shameful.”
  • At her popular The Blog That Ate Manhattan, Dr. Margaret Polaneczky comments on reports of an apparently successful diet focusing mostly on Hostess Twinkies. “As a lifelong dieter forever looking for the ultimate weight loss tool, a new diet is always appealing [and] I can see distinct advantages in a weight loss program that includes previously forbidden foods and which is successful, at least in the short term,” she generously concedes–then rolls out more reasonable guidelines for long-term health.
  • Our Diane Vacca isn’t the only one concerned about recent proposals by some budget hawks to raise the age at which we can collect Social Security. In part of As Time Goes By’s Gray Matters series, Saul Friedman looks at some of the raw data. “The higher the retirement age, the shorter the lives of retirees. That, of course, is one way of saving money,” Friedman notes acidly. “Widows and widowers don’t cost taxpayers and Social Security as much as a retiree who lives a full life and draws a full benefit.”
  • Wise Web Woman, inspired by a column about early, fruitless romances of Princess Margaret, takes a moment to remember and describe some long-past stories of her own.”These long lost loves never grow old or bald or have prostate problems or bad breath,” she notes. Ah, romance.
  • It’s early in the holiday season, but Jan at Broadway & Me was still charmed by the new Broadway version of “Elf.” Her review includes an elegant summation of why:  “David Rockwell’s sets intentionally echo Christmas pop-up books, Gregg Barnes’ costumes are seasonably jolly and the music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the duo behind the stage version of The Wedding Singer, is so Christmasy that people in the audience started to sing along as though they already knew the songs. ” If you’re intrigued by Jan’s full review and the clip below, you might want to consider a holiday ticket splurge.

The Wednesday Five: Crowdsourcing Our Menopause, Fact-Checking the Times, and Oprah and “Waiting for Superman”

September 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Newsmakers

This week’s pick of the best of the blogs includes education reform and Oprah’s embrace of “Waiting for Superman” solutions, a new film about Carson McCullers, and looking at Christina Hoff Sommers’ data for a much-needed fact check.

  • Janice Simpson, former TIME arts editor  and current WVFC contributor, notes in her blog Broadway And Me that the fall theater season–not always the most welcoming to women–this year features a number of our favorite power women. We agree with Simpson about Cherry Jones in Mrs. Warren’s Profession: “It’s been four long years since Jones has been on a New York stage and I’d go to see her if she were appearing in the Ice Capades. ” We’re particularly psyched at the prospect of seeing Vanessa Redgrave on stage again, and so is Simpson, even if she’s not sure that Driving Miss Daisy was meant to be set in pre-Civil War Atlanta, even with Morgan Freeman at the wheel. “But I’ve never seen Redgrave give a bad performance and I don’t expect her to break the pattern this time either.”
  • At the invaluable Flashfree: Not Your Mama’s Menopause, Liz Scherer writes about “participatory medicine,” which she defines as  collaboration between consumers of healthcare and their practitioners and empowered patients. She believes that this collaboration will drive a cultural shift that’s already taking place in our healthcare system. To that end, Scherer is attending  ePatient 2010, a marketing conference that endeavors “to benchmark best practices for reaching and supporting digital health consumers.” One such best practices, writes Scherer, may be “crowdsourcing” patient information, in a way that fact-checks the claims of drug companies and marketers. “Let’s start talking…to each other, to our practitioners and to the world,” she writes. “Let’s figure out what we need, research the hell out of it, seek second and third opinions and insist on making decisions with our practitioners rather than going along with decisions without questioning them, especially when they feel wrong.”
  • Someone had to do it: When we first saw Christina Hoff Sommers’ New York Times op-ed against equal pay laws, we had two thoughts: “Do I have to respond to this?” and “Who the hell is still publishing Sommers?” Luckily, we have the sharp Echidne of the Snakes to break the piece down, including the flaws in the 2009 study from which Sommers draws her data. “Only conservative anti-feminists such as Christina Hoff Sommers knows for certain that women earn less simply because they ‘choose’ to do so. The rest of us have to study the evidence and so on,” Echidne writes. “A lot more boring but also ultimately a better approach.”
  • Do you remember reading Carson McCullers’ The Heart is A Lonely Hunter? Melissa at Women in Hollywood does, and is excited about a new biopic of the author, written by acclaimed author Sarah Schulman, who is adapting her  2002 play Carson McCullers (Historically Inaccurate). The film comes from a trio of power women:   Schulman, Abigail Disney (producer),  and Deborah Kampmeier (director).  No word yet on casting; the film will take McCullers from her young ascendance to her death at 50.
  • Jill Tubman at  Jack and Jill Politics talks about the current education buzz.  “We know what makes good schools: small classes, teachers with the freedom and creativity to teach, high standards, healthy lunches, good books, art/science/music/sports and safety.” She hails Mark Zuckerberg’s gift to the Newark public schools and notes that Oprah last week “devoted most of the show to showing Waiting for “Superman”, the new education documentary by Davis Guggenheim that shows American kids’ desperate need for better schools. The show audience’s reaction to the film was stark: “sad,” “outraged,” “distressed,” “unfair,” and even “I can’t believe this is happening in America.” However, Oprah ended the show on a high note by giving $1,000,000 each to the principals of six leading charter schools across the country that are changing the life trajectories of their students.”