Times have SO changed from that “very special episode” of “The Waltons,” when Mama was acting a mite peculiar on account of the change of life. Production has just wrapped on Henry Jaglom’s feature dramedy “The M Word” — and star Tanna Frederick says, “It will be like our first step on the moon of menopause stories. It deals with everything having to do with our ovaries and then some. M is for menopause, menses and men.”
Frances Fisher plays her mother who moves in with her after her mate (Gregory Harrison) is caught cheating. Two aunts (Mary Crosby, Eliza Fisher) move into Tanna’s character’s two-bedroom apartment as well
“Henry is not commenting on menopause, he’s taking you along for a ride,” she says of the director with whom she made “Hollywood Dreams” and other films, who is known for his improvisational work with actors. “He really let the three women playing my aunts fly, and let them go into their own experiences with menopause. They took it to a fever pitch that’s really funny. We got some powerful stuff that I think will spark some groundbreaking talks between women and men.”
Well, at least it sounds as if Fisher’s performance will spark talk. “She is hilarious. At one point in a scene, she took the frozen turkey that she had for the family Thanksgiving and put it between her legs because she was having a hot flash,” Tanna says. “I stepped back and said, ‘I don’t even know what to do with this.’”
Tanna’s TV reporter character is fighting the closure of her station. Her smarmy Sammy Glick-type boyfriend is played by Corey Feldman, and the corporate hatchet man who comes out to cut station staff is Michael Imperioli — who, of course, her character falls for.
“Always in the past, Henry has sort of tiptoed around around the socioeconomic status of his characters. In this, he dove right in. It’s scary and sad what’s going on out there with all the cutbacks in jobs,” comments the actress. “My character is faced with this question: Do I fall in love, or do I fight for what’s right?” She reports that at one point she has a scene “that’s probably as close to a ‘Norma Rae’ moment as I’ll ever have,” leading a group of some 30 women in an office. Women who are all, you guessed it, menopausal.