Tag Archives: “Hawthorne”

Jada Sacks Series Tech Team After Mom’s Critique

Jada Pinkett Smith TNT photo

If real-life nurses and doctors find more to like on “HawthoRNe” this season in terms of verisimilitude, they’ll have Jada Pinkett Smith’s mother to thank.

“She enjoyed the first season, but she wrote me a long email about the technical things we weren’t doing properly,” reports Jada, whose mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, worked as a head nurse at a women’s clinic in inner-city Baltimore.  “I brought a new technical team in.  That literally was a result of mom’s letter.  I got a lot of constructive criticism from her and other nurses.”

Adds Jada, “She had really good suggestions, more of the perspective of the employees in the hospital, that are helping us expand and extend it on beyond the nursing staff,” for the TNT show.

Jada’s character gets a romance this year, as we noted the other day, with Michael Vartan’s Dr. Wakefield.  “That’s very, very interesting on a lot of levels,” she says.

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE:  Jerry Stiller is getting ready to film a low-budget feature called “Let Go.”  It’s not about getting downsized.  Stiller’s character has been recently let go from prison and facing challenges of life on the outside – while others around him are facing their own issues of letting go.

Michael Madsen and Lisa Pelikan have joined the cast of Tom Sizemore’s “Visible Scars” as the sheriff and as Sizemore’s wife.

Michael Vartan Talks Taking Romantic Plunge

Michael Vartan TNT photo

Ooh la la! “HawthoRNe” is doing a full court press with l’amour in the season of the TNT show launching Tuesday (6/22). According to Michael Vartan,the romance soon to break out between his and Jada Pinkett Smith’s characters”feels like deep, intense love and passion — messy, dark and powerful.

“There are a lot of emotions running very deep between these characters. There is the obvious workplace conflict. There is all the history they have,” he continues, speaking of his Dr. Tom Wakefield being chief of surgery and Smith’s Christina Hawthorne being head of nursing at the fictional Virginia hospitalwhere the show takes place. Tom, as viewers know, was also the physician whotried in vain to save her late husband’s life.

“You can either go the ‘Moonlighting’ route and keep the characters apart for 17 years until the audience can’t take anymore, which people have come to expect,” Vartan observes, “or you can take a risk and just do it right away. The writers felt that getting these two together romantically would cause so much conflict it would be interesting and good for the show. It really feels like adifferent show this season.”

Will Smith hangs out on the “HawthoRNe” set a lot. What’s it like doing those sexy scenes with Mrs. Smith in that regard? And how about Vartan’s fiancee, Lauren Skaar?

“Oh, she and Jada are totally cool with one another,” he says. “They’ve had their powwow, I guess. It’s part of the business. It’s also television — a lot tamer than features.”

As far as Will, Vartan gushes to such a degree it sounds like bromance time. “I’d like to say we’re best friends, but that would be me exaggerating. He’s a great guy and one of the nicest guys I know — so much nicer than he needs to be, if you know what I mean. I see him around fans, he truly extends himself …I always like to spend time talking to him because I know he’ll say something ridiculous that will make me laugh.”

Vartan tells us that he and his beautiful blond bride-to-be, who works in real estate, have picked April 2, 2011 as their wedding date — even as his legions of female fans are adjusting to the news that the one-time “Alias” hunk is taken. “We’re still looking around for the place,” he says, “but it will definitely be in the Southern California area.”

Jada Pinkett Smith Not Worried About Impact of Stardom on Her Kids

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t worried about the impact movie stardom is having on her 11-year-old son Jaden, now that he’s the title star of “The Karate Kid,” opening tomorrow (6/11).  Fame, she notes, “has always been a part of his life.  For him, it’s not anything different.  Yes, the focus and attention is on him now, but he’s just like, ‘Okay.’  He’s a very mellow, introverted cat who takes everything in stride.”

Daughter Willow, on the other hand, “is explosive.  She’s all energy.  She’s like her father in that way – very, very extroverted.  They’re both kind of layered with both of our personalities,” she says of herself and husband Will.  “My son is more like me in how he deals with fame, but he’s very much driving with his career, like his father.  Our daughter I would say deals with the public like Will does, but her creative sensibilities are very much like mine, very unconventional.”

The nine-year-old – who has a music project of her own coming out in late summer – latched on to China in a big way when the Smith family was in that land for three months last year while Jaden was shooting “Karate Kid” with Jackie Chan.

“I didn’t expect my daughter wanting to learn Mandarin.  She has continued to learn the language here.  When we go back to China for the premiere there, she asked if her Mandarin teacher could come along, to help her keep up with her new language skills.  We said ‘Absolutely.’  She has so much love for the culture.  That was surprising.”

The Smiths have the Tony Awards to attend Sunday (6/13) – they, along with Beyonce and Jay-Z – are producers on the musical “Fela!” that’s up for 11 awards.  The next day, they head for China and the film’s premiere there.  After that, they’ll be traveling to other points ‘round the globe to help launch the movie.  Jada’s TNT “Hawthorne” series gets its second season premiere June 22.

Jada posed nude for the cover of Essence that’s just coming out.  What does Will think about that?  “Oh, he loves that stuff.  He loved the photos,” she says.

Sigourney Weaver’s Emotional ‘Prayers’ Journey Continues

Sigourney Weaver in "Prayers for Bobby" (Photo from Lifetime)

Sigourney Weaver in "Prayers for Bobby" (Photo from Lifetime)

Sigourney Weaver’s Emmy nomination for Lifetime’s “Prayers for Bobby” underscores the huge and lasting emotional impact the movie has had upon the esteemed actress.

Sigourney plays real-life gay rights activist Mary Griffith, a deeply religious woman who tried to turn her son away from homosexuality — but in the face of rejection and despair, he committed suicide.  Thus began her turn-around.  Sigourney reports that since the movie aired earlier this year, “I’ve had a number of parents come up to me on the street — or sisters, brothers, or others — and say ‘Thank-you for this story.  My daughter is gay, or my sister is gay…’

“That’s meant so much to me.  They acknowledged what we were doing in the hope it would open some eyes.  And then I read in the paper last week that the poll numbers haven’t changed about Proposition 8,” she adds, referring to California’s anti-gay marriage initiative.   Not that she would have expected the film to cause a complete shift in public opinion, Weaver says disappointedly, but she did think that collectively, all the productions, profiles and protests since the vote would have had an impact.

“I’m still amazed it got on the ballot,” she admits.  “It seems so unconstitutional, to have a referendum on whether your neighbor should have the same rights as you.”

Meanwhile, producer Stan Brooks is looking into foreign release for the movie.  “After all, we’re not the only country that has these issues.  I’ve been asked ‘When is it going to be shown in Ireland?’ ‘When is it going to be shown in India?’  I hope Lifetime keeps showing it and at some point distributes it around the world,” she says.

As for whether she’s had any flak for playing the role: “I don’t think so.  Of course I don’t go looking for trouble.  I don’t go hunting around websites looking for comments.”

She wouldn’t have time for that, even if she wanted to.  Weaver has five features on the way.  She recently wedged in an appearance at Comic-Con, where the “Aliens” star was accorded royal treatment including a standing ovation, led a discussion about women in action films, and was part of the panel discussing James Cameron’s highly anticipated “Avatar.” And she’s in the midst of making Disney’s “You Again” comedy with Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell, Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth.

Jada Pinkett Smith in Hawthorne (photo from TNT)

Jada Pinkett Smith in Hawthorne (photo from TNT)

HARMONIOUS CONVERGENCEJada Pinkett Smith is a loyal colleague, Joanna Cassidy wants us to know.  “When she works with actors, she works with them again. She’s really good that way.”  Cassidy’s currently being seen on Jada’s “HawthoRNe” series as the hospital administrator who was Jada’s late husband’s mother.

“I actually did a movie with Jada about a year and a half ago – ‘The Human Contract,’” notes Cassidy.  In that one, she played Jada’s character’s own mom.  “It was very believable.  I wore a wing that’s very curly and long, Jheri curled,” says the actress of her mixed race character.

Now, Cassidy’s thrilled with the numbers “HawthoRNe” has been pulling, declaring that “It’s a win for TNT” – and that in all probability, she’ll get to keep working with Jada.  “I love it.  I love it.  It’s very easy with her.  We have a very nice rapport and I’m able to find my place with her.  I don’t have to struggle.  It’s good that our characters are in conflict,” she adds.  “We already talked about some of the story ideas for next year – more in the vein of being competitive, possibly for some male attention.  You know how women are,” laughs the actress, who rose to fame in “Blade Runner.”  “Let’s light that fire.”

CASTING CORNER:  Casting continues on the HBO Films’ Al Pacino biggie, “You Don’t Know Jack,” with the Oscar winner playing controversial assisted suicide-supporting Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and fellow Oscar winner Susan Sarandon as Hemlock Society activist Janet GoodJohn Goodman and Danny Huston are also in the cast.  Among the secondary roles now being filled by director Barry Levinson are those of a Hispanic California woman suffering from an inoperable spinal tumor, who’ll be seen consulting with Dr. Kevorkian as police burst into her home.  She’ll dare the cops to arrest her or leave.  The woman’s husband is being cast also, as is a handsome forty-something anchor man who’ll be seen interviewing Kevorkian, a.k.a. “Dr. Death.”

AND:  You know the hunger’s got to be intense amongst actors trying to get in on “Dinner for Schmucks.”  That’s the film, due to roll in October, that stars Paul Rudd as an executive at a private equity fund, where the bigwigs delight in having dinner parties wherein they bring guests so stupid or boring that they can have fun mocking them.  Rudd’s character thinks he’s got it made when he finds the ultimate loser: an amateur taxidermist named Barry who creates religious and historical tableaus using dead mice – Steve Carell.  Of course, things turn out very differently than planned.  Now casting forces are filling in both the roles of the other “masters of the universe”-style execs, their significant others, and of course, the other hapless dinner guests.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster