Tag Archives: Tanna Frederick

Seth Watch Has Begun for Academy, ABC; No More DWTS All Stars

Talk about raising interest in your Oscar hosting gig! Seth MacFarlane certainly did just that with his nominations announcement performance last week, didn’t he? In case anyone missed it, MacFarlane issued such gems as a Hitler joke tied in to the Austria-Germany collaboration, “Amour” and a comment that directors sit and watch other people make movies. And he earned a fierce collection of responses. For instance, an Entertainment Weekly headline asked “Seth MacFarlane, Oscar nomination presenter: Smug and condescending?” while Slate observed that he “managed to botch his Oscar-hosting gig in record time.”

Even as that was happening, ABC chieftain Paul Lee was explaining to press as the Television Critics Association conclave in Pasadena why he is “really bullish”about MacFarlane’s upcoming Oscar emcee stint.

“I am a huge Seth fan. I think what Seth brings — first of all, is a sense of joy,” he declared. MacFarlane, who is himself nominated for Best Song honors for“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted,”really “wants to be there,” he went on. One would hope!

“And he also has this fantastic combination of — he’s one of the funniest writers in the world, but if you watch ‘Family Guy,’ I mean, who would have expected, you know, ‘Family Guy’ would be the heart of show and dance and variety? He loves the show, and I think he’s going to bring a lot of that energy to it. He’s coming to the Oscars, you know, with a great sense of respect, but I think he’s going to bring us a really contemporary feel.

“Look, you don’t know. You don’t know until he comes out there, but I’m sensing he’s going to have a lot of fun out there, and I think, with the movies that are there, I think — I’m sensing that we are going to have a good Oscars. I may be proven wrong, but I’m feeling good about it and particularly good about him.”

That remains to be seen, but Oscar winners (“Chicago”) and musical producers extraordinaire Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are certainly a dream team, particularly in a year when “Les Miserables” is in the mix. As Lee acknowledged, “They love show and tell. They love variety. And so I think you are going to see a very entertaining Oscars. I think Seth is going to be right at the heart of that.”

ALSO: Lee talked about the future of “Dancing With the Stars” and the fact that the recent all-stars season was a ratings disappointment. “It turns out people want to see bad dancing as much as good dancing,” he said, adding that the show will be cast in its regular way next time around. He does still expect to air “DWTS” twice a year. It’s still a big, broad crowd pleaser, he noted. “Sixteen million viewers. That’s still a lot of viewers.” He believes that with the right casting, younger viewers can be enticed back to the show. Seth MacFarlane, maybe?

SORRY TO SAY GOODBYE: The death of beloved California TV personality Huell Howser at age 67 last week has truly saddened a lot of folks around these parts, who’ll miss the perpetual unbridled enthusiasm he brought to his California travelogue shows. Among them, no doubt: Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. Brolin admitted to us a few years ago that he and his wife just loved to settle down and watch Huell doing his thing, taking viewers on excursions from Death Valley to Eureka, meeting assorted colorful sorts along the way. And Brolin had developed a spot-on perfect impression of the Tennessee-born Huell, which he demonstrated for us: “You have a tree here, and another tree there! Why, you’ve almost got a forest!!” Howser is being memorialized today (1/15) at L.A.’s Griffith Park Observatory.

Tanna Frederick Takes a Swing at a Hepburn Classic

Tanna Frederick delighted audiences for more than a year in A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia comedy, playing the dog who has such a bond with her owner that it starts driving his wife crazy. Indeed, audiences came to see the show, at Santa Monica’s Edgemar Center for the Arts, because of Tanna’s bouncy, uninhibited antics as the title pooch. Now it appears the show is going to open on Broadway, with….someone else. “I’m like, oh God, who’s going to play the part? Miley Cyrus? I’ll just die,” admits Tanna with a groan and a laugh. “That role!”

The red-haired indie film fave, who’s also known as Henry Jaglom’s main muse (“Hollywood Dreams,” “Irene in Time,” etc.) certainly has found a silver lining in the fact that doing Sylvia led to her new role at the Edgemar – Lizzie in The Rainmaker. And yes, she’s aware that the repressed spinster, played memorably by Katharine Hepburn on film, is quite different for her. “I had to mix it up, you know, and I can’t say that it wasn’t a very intimidating decision to do this piece — no pressure or anything,” says Frederick, who has been drawing positive response from preview crowds. “People are shocked…My mother says this is her favorite of all my performances, and she’s been seeing me perform since I was eight, so that means a lot,” she dead pans.

Meanwhile, Tanna has two films expected to arrive in theaters sometime in Spring. One is the menopause comedy “The M Word,” in which “Frances Fisher is hilarious,” Frederick lets us know. Also, there is “The Farm,” a story partially inspired by the true-life saga of Tanna’s own grandparents’ struggle to stay on their family farm in Iowa. The film was made on the actual Frederick family farm, part of the actress’ Project Cornlight initiative to revitalize the film industry in her home state. She expects to begin production on her next Iowa-based movie production, “Just Beautiful,” in June.

Tanna Frederick Bringing Filmmaking Home, to Iowa

Talk about a labor of love! Indefatigable actress-director Tanna Frederick reports that a June 25 production start date has been set for “The Farm,” a story about a single mother who returns to her childhood home when her grandfather becomes ill, and must deal with her past. Parts of the story are inspired by the true-life saga of Tanna’s own grandparents’ struggle to stay on their family farm. The film will be made…on the Frederick family farm.

“The Farm” is one of three films being shot in the actress’ home state in coming months thanks to Tanna’s efforts. Her Project Cornlight is an initiative to revitalize the industry there, and she says, “Everybody is so excited. It’s beautiful! It makes me want to cry. In this world I grew up in, there’s not a lot of city life, but there’s a lot of imagination. Like watching fireflies in a field, it’s absolutely beautiful.”

No wonder Tanna was honored this past weekend at the inaugural Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, with the their CineCause Award.

Melissa Gilbert Credits Back Surgeon for Her ‘DWTS’ Try

Melissa Gilbert

Former child star Melissa Gilbert credits her back surgeon for the fact she’s become one of this coming season’s contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” — and not just because he healed her broken back.  “It actually started with him, because my final day [of post-operative appointments] was the day that Jennifer Grey won.  He’s her surgeon too,” recounts the amiable actress.  “He started saying, ‘Now YOU need to do it.’  I said, ‘I’m glad you think my back is healed enough so that I can do that.  If I injure myself, though, you have to operate for free,’ and he laughed.”

You can count on the show highlighting her story of conquering tough physical challenges.  As you may recall, Melissa toured the country through much of 2008 and 2009, playing Ma Ingalls in the popular stage musical version of Little House on the Prairie.  For months, she was in extreme discomfort, but somehow, she finished the tour.  When she returned home and went to the doctor, “I found I had broken my back.  I knew the disc was herniated.  I didn’t know the back was actually broken.  If I had, I’m sure the

doctors would have said ‘Don’t go.’

“After the surgery, it was a really long recovery, and I didn’t get cleared to work really until February of 2011.”  Gilbert, who has written about her past battles with alcholism, enlisted the help of Dr. Drew Pinsky to guide her as she dealt with her intense post-surgery pain, due to her concern she might become addicted to opiates.  She would take her Dilauded, Percocet and muscle relaxers, and then take two days away from the pills “and just tough it out.”

By summer, she was pain-free.  And, “There’s nothing I can’t do.  I can do Pilates.  I can run.  I can jump.  I can do yoga.  I can do whatever I am asked to do.”  Including “Dancing With the Stars”!

There’ve been rumors — and tabloid stories — of her taking on the show before.  Last year also saw the breakup of her 16-year marriage to Bruce Boxleitner, and “The National Enquirer wrote some ridiculous story about me healing my heart by doing ‘Dancing With the Stars.’   They had me studying tape of other stars who had done it — which was funny, because at the time I was shooting my movie at the time,” she says, referring to last December’s Hallmark Channel movie, “The Christmas Pageant.”

As for why she’s taking on the show, Melissa tells us: “It’s just because it seems like a real challenge for me.  And you know me — if something scares me, I’m gonna do it, and this kind of scares me because I’m now part titanium.”

IF YOU ASK US:  It’s been a tough year for Oscar.  This year’s show was book-ended by the Los Angeles Times expose that delineated the Academy membership as 94 per cent white, 77 per cent male, and with a median age of 62 — and the New York Times piece that laid out a variety of indicators showing that the Oscar show’s glory days are over.  (And the ultra hard-campaigning Harvey Weinstein’s relatively little-seen films winding up at the forefront of the Oscars again and again hasn’t helped ratings.)   Scathing reviews such as the Hollywood Reporter’s “Oscars Become Badly Paced Bore-Fest” had to have hurt — and a little extra salt in the wound came in Forbes’ report that Best Original Screenplay winner Woody Allen not only wasn’t present, he watched the NBA All Star Game instead.  Of course, with Woody, nobody was surprised.

The rest of America — businesses and individuals alike — has had to get used to once-unthinkable cutbacks, shakeups and forced reinvention to survive in these tough times.  Now it’s the Academy’s turn.   Most obviously, it’s time to take the craft awards out of the primetime Oscar show — and to make a concerted effort to diversify membership.  Take all the negativity surrounding the 84th Oscars and use the energy for positive, deep and meaningful change, not just a few more young faces on the show.  It can work!  After all, America, like Hollywood, loves a good comeback story.

Barbara Bain

HELLO, AGAIN:  Esteemed veteran actress Barbara Bain is enjoying her turn in Claire Chaffee’s comedy, Why We Have a Body as directed by cast mate Tanna Frederick.  “It’s an extraordinarily heightened approach, a bit like a cartoon — fanciful.  It makes me think of Terry Gilliam’s films,” says the actress, who rose to fame as the sexy and soignee spy Cinnamon Carter in the original “Mission: Impossible.”  She adds, “It’s hard to believe this is Tanna’s first directing job.  My reaction was kind of, ‘Wow, look at what she’s done with this material.’  I was very impressed.”  That’s saying a lot, particularly since Bain has been spending much of her time in recent years directing plays as well as acting in them.

Bain is playing the globe-trotting, not-so-wonderful mother of two grownup daughters who are going through turbulent times in Why We Have a Body,  which is running at Santa Monica’s Edgemar Center for the Arts through April 8.  One daughter’s a career criminal, the other is married, but having a lesbian affair.

Meanwhile, she’s also in the indie film “Nothing Special” with Karen Black, about a woman trying to have a normal life while dealing with bipolar illness.  The film’s awaiting a distributor.  And she has a series of six one-act plays at the Beverly Hills Playhouse ahead on her agenda.

Tanna Frederick: ‘M Word’ Feature Dramedy Hits New Menopause Territory


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.