Tina Fey to Possibly Star in Muppets Movie

Rumor has it Fey will play a Russian gulag prison guard, in what sounds like a pretty dark idea for a Muppets movie. Still, I think the correct response to this news is: “Eeeeeeeeee!”

Via The Mary Sue.

The Bechdel Test

With regard to any given film, the test, named for cartoonist Alison Bechdel, asks the following three questions:

  1. Does the movie have at least two female characters?
  2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?

Failing any one question fails the test.

Quite a few of my own screenplays fail this test. Of course, I mostly write romantic comedies.

Sundance Has Equal Number of Female and Male Directors

The first post of the year is a happy one!

For the first time ever, the famous Sundance Film Festival will feature an equal number of men and women in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category… This is huge news considering what an important launching pad Sundance is for getting independent films and films by first-time directors distributed as well as more media attention.

The Censorship of "Mean Girls"

Ramou Sarr of Hello Giggles watched Mean Girls on MTV and was displeased to discover that the channel had bleeped out the words “homosexual”, “gay”, “lesbian”, and “vagina”.

It was particularly interesting that in a movie whose message was about the problematic ways in which young women behave towards one another, “lesbian” and “vagina” were censored, but “whore” and “slut” were not. This is sending an incredibly complicated message to viewers. We’re encouraged to not use words like “homosexual,” even if we self-identify that way, and to be ashamed to call our vaginas vaginas, but you’ve got free rein to call girls sluts and whores, folks!

I’m especially baffled by the removal of “homosexual”, which has come to be a fairly clinical word now that self-identified homosexuals prefer to call themselves “gay”.

Why Having Only Strong Girl Heroines is Not Enough

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood is happy about the year’s take of strong female roles but wishes some of them had gone to grown-ups:

Looking at the numbers this is actually a good year for female roles at the box office. According to box office mojo as of today, three films with a female protagonist are in the top ten grossing films of the year: The Hunger Games, Twlight Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Brave.

This is all good news.

But digging a little bit deeper the one thing that I notice about all these movies and all these characters is that they are all GIRLS. So my question is, where are the movies about strong WOMEN?

If I haven’t before, let me now go on record as saying that I remain pessimistic about how women will fare on film in the near future. Most blockbusters starring strong young women are adaptations of existing properties, and development executives tend to learn the wrong lesson from those successes (i.e., “More vampires!” rather than “More strong women!”)

The notable exception here is Brave, which was produced by Pixar, a gang of notorious risk-takers. They might actually represent our best hope for the kind of movies Silverstein wants to see.

Dreamworks Animation's Producers are 85% Women

Of the five people in the company’s “top-tier management,” three are women: COO Ann Daly, chief accounting officer Heather O’Connor and worldwide marketing chief Anne Globe. Founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg says their pool of producers is a staggering 85% female (including those producers involved with Madagascar and Rise of the Guardians) and says he “couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments.”

Astonishing and wonderful. In the linked article, Pamela McClintock suggests a possible reason for the success of women in the production company:

Katzenberg inspires abiding loyalty by grooming stars from within. He gave longtime in-house animator Jennifer Yuh Nelson the chance to direct 2011’s Kung Fu Panda 2 (all the way to an Oscar nom and $655.7 million in global ticket sales), making her the first woman to direct a big-budget animated film solo.

Giancarlo Esposito Joins "Poker Night"

I simply must take a moment to celebrate the success of my dear friend Greg Francis, who—after nearly two decades of directing TV—is currently shooting his feature debut, Poker Night.

The film, a scrappy indie thriller that has taken almost 10 years and many false starts to finally be greenlit, got a mention in Deadline Hollywood today when the producers announced that Giancarlo Esposito had signed onto the picture.

In addition to Esposito—best known right now for his work on Breaking Bad, although I most associate him with Once Upon a Time—Greg gets to direct Ron Perlman, Titus Welliver, Ron Eldard, and Beau Mirchoff.

I couldn’t be more thrilled for him, and I can’t wait to see the product of all that creative collaboration.

Netflix Closes Magical Deal With Disney

Of course I hate myself for that headline, but I really am that excited about this development:

Beginning with its 2016 theatrically released feature films, new Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Disneynature titles will be made available for Netflix members to watch instantly in the pay TV window on multiple platforms, including television, tablets, computers and mobile phones. Also included in the agreement are high-profile Disney direct-to-video new releases, which will be made available on Netflix starting in 2013.

Separately, Disney and Netflix have reached agreement on a multi-year catalog deal that today brings to U.S. Netflix members such beloved Disney movies such as “Dumbo,” “Pocahontas” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

That Bob Iger. He does not mess around about New Media.

Lionsgate Makes Box Office History With Female-Led Films

Jill Pantozzi of The Mary Sue points out that, when Lionsgate Films became the first movie studio ever to release two films in the same year that both grossed over $125 million in their North American theatrical release, those two films both featured women in the lead.

The movies in question are, of course, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hunger Games. Pantozzi hopes that this will finally get the message through executives’ thick skulls that women can carry big-budget, successful movies:

Let’s think about this for a second. Both films starred female leads and both films played for what was projected to be a mostly female audience. That’s pretty huge and a good indicator going forward for not just Lionsgate but other studios. Women action stars besides Angelina Jolie can make money, and both men and women will want to see them.

Based on Hollywood’s previous track record, I’m going to predict that they will once again totally miss this indicator. One can hope, though.