It’s been almost a year since Kathryn Bigelow made history winning the best director Oscar and in that time she directed a pilot — Miraculous Year — for HBO that did not get picked up, put together a deal for studio picture — Triple Frontier — starring Tom Hanks that will film in the spring of 2011, and is actively pitching another indie film to be written by Mark Boal who wrote The Hurt Locker.

She’s not a big public speaker and has never been known to talk about gender issues, or women or what it means to have been the first woman to win the best director Oscar, but she know she has clout.

And she rolled that clout out this week just as everyone is finalizing their Oscar nomination ballots. She introduced two private screenings of Winter’s Bone in LA this week that included star Jennifer Lawrence and director Debra Granik.

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Gypsy is one of my favorite shows ever.  When Tyne Daly starred in it in the early 90s and I happened to work in the building where it was playing.  I watched it most nights sitting on the stairs in a state of bliss.  Sadly, I missed Patti Lupone’s recent take on Mama Rose.

Yesterday word hit the interwebs that Barbra Streisand — who hasn’t sung on screen since Yentl in 1983 — was going to not only star in, but direct, and produce a new version of Gypsy potentially co-starring Tom Hanks.

Sadly, the news today is that she will not be directing, but there have been official conversations with Streisand and Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim (can you imagine a conversation between Stephen Sondheim and Barbra Streisand?) about her taking on the role.

I wish she would direct because she has never been given a fair shake as a director, but I understand her desire not to wear too many hats.  The last time she directed, sang, starred and produced was Yentl, and we know how that turned out.  But if Barbra Streisand, one of the only women who has enough clout (and money) not to give a shit about what anyone thinks of her, doesn’t want to get back into the directing chair…well, that officially sucks.

Streisand in Talks to Play Mama Rose in Film Remake of ‘Gypsy’ (NY Times)


Some good news this January.

On January 17th, Kathy Bates takes on the leading role in David E. Kelley’s new TV show Harry’s Law.  She plays a long time patent lawyer who gets fired and remakes her life.

Preview looks totally cool.  It is of interest to note that Kelley wrote the show with a man in mind but couldn’t find the right actor.  When he switched the gender, Kathy Bates was the first choice.  I am going to bet the show will be more interesting because it was written with a man in mind.  I wish that wasn’t the case but that’s what usually happen.

I’m just surprised that this is not getting more press.  Kathy Bates starring on TV should be big news.

Fire up the TIVO.  NBC.  January 17.


Kathy Bates says “Harry’s Law” role fit like a glove (Reuters)


The nominations for the Producer’s Guild Awards were revealed yesterday.

Here are the women who were nominated.  As previously announced, Laura Ziskin will be receiving the Visionary Award.

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:
Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
Producers: Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
Producers: Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
Producer: Darla K. Anderson

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Yesterday, the Writer’s Guild handed out the nominations for best original screenplay, best adapted screenplay and documentary screenplay.

Several films of note written by women including Winter’s Bone were not eligible because the writers are not signatories to the guild.  Stupid and petty reason to not include top notch works but that’s the world.

Only two women — Lisa Cholodenko and Nicole Holofcener received nominations, and Holofcener was one of only three writers out of 10 nominations credited by herself in the adapted and original category.  Holofcener has been virtually shut out this awards season so it is good to see her get some recognition.

Note that both women nominated are writer/directors.

No women received a nomination in the documentary category.

The female nominees

  • The Kids Are All Right, Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg; Focus Features
  • Please Give, Written by Nicole Holofcener; Sony Pictures Classics

Awards will be handed out February 5.

2011 Writers Guild Awards Screen Nominees Announced


Great advice and clarity from one of the leaders of Facebook and one of the top female leaders in the world.  This speech was from the TED Women conference in December.

Let’s make a movie about her!



I saw Another Year over a month ago and when I walked out of the screening room there was steam coming out of my ears.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the film or the performances, I just was so angry with the character of Mary played by Lesley Manville.

My initial reaction (and I feel sorry for the woman who left the theatre with me and got an earful) of anger has dissipated a lot, and the good news is that I still can’t get Mary and Lesley Manville’s performance out of my head.

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One thing that is always cool for an author is to have your book optioned to be a TV show or film. That is something that happened to Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez that author of several novels including the best-seller The Dirty Girls Social Club.

Valdes-Rodriguez probably thought she hit the jackpot when two Latina women got involved with the project. George Lopez’ wife Ann bought her book to adapt it into a series to be written by Luisa Leschin who had five years experience as executive producer on the George Lopez show.

Well things did not go as expected and in the last couple of weeks the author has taken to the internet to make her feelings known. Clearly her feelings have been heard and some things are happening because she has taken down all the posts and is trying to make nice to NBC (where the show is being developed.)

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While We Were Away

by Melissa Silverstein on January 3, 2011

in News

Here are some stories that I wanted people to see that ran during the holidays.

Oscar Watch: Kids Are All Right Faces Academy Males (Thompson on Hollywood)

What came after “the year of the woman?” (In Contention)

Classic Hollywood: Marsha Mason comes full circle
(LA Times)

Pop Culture Creates New Heroines (NY Times)

Shakespeare’s Prospero becomes Prospera (LA Times)

Girls on Film: How Women Fared in 2010’s Top 20 (Cinematical)

The Many Faces of Stella (NY Times)

Hedda Gabler to Medea to Frazzled Mom
(NY Times)


At the end of last month the Library of Congress released this year’s list of 25 films that have been added to the National Film Registry.

According to the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, these films are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” important and should be looked at “as works of enduring significance to American culture.”

Too bad only one film by a woman, a single five minute short, by Mary Ellen Bute was deemed of significance to American culture.  At least we will be making sure that Airplane is preserved.

The good news is the the Beales of Grey Gardens are on the list.

These people need to get on the stick and add more women directed films to the list.

Here’s the description of Mary Ellen’s film: (from the press release)

Tarantella (1940)
“Tarantella” is a five-minute color, avant-garde short film created by Mary Ellen Bute, a pioneer of visual music and electronic art in experimental cinema. With piano accompaniment by Edwin Gershefsky, “Tarantella” features rich reds and blues that Bute uses to signify a lighter mood, while her syncopated spirals, shards, lines and squiggles dance exuberantly to Gershefsky’s modern beat. Bute produced more than a dozen short films between the 1930s and the 1950s and once described herself as a “designer of kinetic abstractions” who sought to “bring to the eyes a combination of visual forms unfolding with the … rhythmic cadences of music.” Bute’s work influenced many other filmmakers working with abstract animation during the ‘30s and ‘40s, and with experimental electronic imagery in the ‘50s.

Hollywood Blockbusters, Independent Films and Shorts Selected for Preservation in the 2010 National Film Registry (press release)


Natalie Portman is in a couple of movies early this year.  This one has been on the shelf for a while and is based on Ayelet Waldman’s book Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

Was released on demand on January 1 and will have a limited release in theatres on February 4.


Happy Holidays

by Melissa Silverstein on December 24, 2010

in Uncategorized

Taking some down time.  See you after the 1st.

Best wishes.


True Grit

by Melissa Silverstein on December 23, 2010

in Actresses,Reviews

Lately, I haven’t been the biggest fan of The Coen Brothers.  Didn’t like No Country for Old Men at all and had no interest in A Serious Man.  When True Grit was coming down the pike it seemed like another guy centric flick since the stars above the title are Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin.

The thing I learned (first from the twittersphere) and then from watching the movie for about two seconds is that this film is about a girl played with breathtaking authority by Hallie Steinfeld.

So for those of you who are thinking that they don’t need to see True Grit or don’t want to see another boring western I want to tell you that you will be missing out on one of the strongest young women (technically she’s a girl but seems so mature) on screen this year.

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As you know male critics, writers and bloggers outnumber the women, and while gender is no indicator of what people will like or respond to, it is vital and important to have a diverse group of voices talking about films and other forms of entertainment. So, to wrap up the year, I asked a variety of women who cover the business to answer a couple of questions about films they liked and what was going on with women in film.

Here are some trends I noticed in the comments:

  • People saw and appreciated Agora and Going the Distance two films ignored by virtually everyone.
  • Katherine Heigl has a lot of work to do to get back in people’s good graces.
  • Strong young female characters had a great year on film.
  • Women directors still have a long way to go but the fact that no one is talking about the fact that two of the strongest films of the year are directed by women is not a big deal.
  • Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone is a favorite of many.

Here’s what they had to say (the responses are not uniform)

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The two female critics organizations have released their nominations (The Alliance of Women Film Journalists) and winners (The Women’s Film Critics Circle) for films this past year.

Here are the nominations from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (winners will be announced January 10)

Best Film:

  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Winter’s Bone

Best Animated Film:

  • Despicable Me
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • The Illusionist
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3

Best Director:

  • Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
  • Lisa Cholodenko – The Kids Are All Right
  • David Fincher – The Social Network
  • Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
  • Debra Granik – Winter’s Bone
  • Christopher Nolan – Inception

Read all the nominees here

The Women’s Film Critics Circle gives out awards focused on women

Mother And Child

Winter’s Bone

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
The Kids Are All Right: Lisa Cholodenko


Annette Bening/The Kids Are All Right

Read the full list here.


This film will screen at the Athena Film Festival on February 11 at 8:30pm and will be released in the US in March 2011.  It is a very powerful film.



Two years ago when statistics reported that only 17% of women playwrights’ work was being produced, it aroused my ire. As an activist who believes strongly in equality, I called Gary Garrison at the Dramatists Guild of which I was a member, and asked what we could do about it. He was sympathetic and called a meeting of other playwrights whom he sensed cared about the issue. Eventually, numerous meetings, conference calls, and emails with three other playwrights, Catherine Gropper, Cindy Cooper and Andy Landis, led to our forming a Women’s Initiative, aimed at creating strategies to improve opportunities for women playwrights.

Throughout the year, we gathered the interest of hundreds of women in New York as well Chicago, Iowa, and California. Sharing ideas with groups like 50/50 in 2020, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, and Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, expanded our outreach. When we announced plans for a symposium, Women in Theater: Achieving Gender Parity for our first year anniversary of the Women’s Initiative, the response was huge with more than 200 attendees signing up, a large waiting list, and requests for transcripts or videos from playwrights unable to attend.

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I should have gone to the game. But I was too lazy.  It was one of those history making events and there are not too many of those anymore. The UCONN women’s basketball team tied the UCLA men’s basketball team record 88 straight wins. UCONN is a team full of first year students just a month or so into their season and they did it and made it look easy.

This was an event anticipated for a while because they would be playing #10 Ohio State with the country’s leading scorer in Jantel Lavender but it really wasn’t a game…it was a rout.

So the women equaled the men. Some said it couldn’t be done. Others poo poo it as not being as significant. But as women’s basketball grows with more teams playing better (have you seen 6-8 Brittney Griner at Baylor?) this feat becomes even more miraculous.

Coach Geno Auriemma laid out the sexism in how folks have been covering the streak. (BTW a female coach would never have been able to utter these words)

“I just know there wouldn’t be this many people in the room if we were chasing a woman’s record,” the Connecticut coach said Sunday near the end of his postgame news conference. “The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men’s record, and everybody is all up in arms about it.”

So, in the spirit of Connecticut (hopefully) breaking the record tonight here is a trailer for The Mighty Macs, the team from Immaculata College who were the team to beat in their day.

This film will be showing on Friday Night, February 11th at 6pm at the Athena Film Festival.


Connecticut women match UCLA men’s 88-game winning streak with 81-50 rout of Ohio State; coach sounds off (AP)


The 88-year-old had a pretty great year.  It started a year and a half ago with The Proposal and it just rolled into a SAG Lifetime Achievement award, one of the funniest Saturday Night Live’s of the year, and a very funny role on Hot in Cleveland.

White beat out the cast of Glee, Conan O’Brien, James Cameron, Jon Stewart and the iPad.

Congrats.  You deserve it.   You inspire us all.

The new season of Hot in Cleveland starts on January 19 and they doubled the episodes to 20.

Betty White voted AP entertainer of the year (AP)


I want to thank everyone for a great year.  Your support, comments, guest posts, and grammar help have helped make the early mornings and late nights all worth it.

As you might suspect there are a bunch of costs in keeping the site up and the lights on.

If you believe in the work of Women and Hollywood and want to support it and its future which will entail the development of the “pink list” (or whatever we call it) that highlights female screenwriters; the impending publication of the e-book of interviews of women directors as well as other ideas I’ve got churning in my head, please contribute to the work.

The easiest way is to go to, click on send money and put in my account number which is  Any questions, just get in touch.

And if you are going to be in NYC on February 10-13, come and meet me at the Athena Film Festival.  Festival passes are now on sale.

I really appreciate all your support.  Happy holidays.