Tag Archives: The Big C


book partyMoviegoers who have perceived the sexualization of younger and younger females onscreen in recent times are not imagining things. The proportion of 13-to-20-year-olds in sexy attire increased 22 per cent between 2009 and 2012.  Between 2007 and 2012, there has been a 32.5 per cent increase in teenaged girls depicted with some nudity.

Those are among the findings in the latest study by the esteemed Dr. Stacy L. Smith and her team at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The researchers examined 500 movies and more than 21,000 characters, looking at gender prevalence, demographic information and hypersexualization, from 2007 through 2012.

The Annenberg study is full of disturbing information. Last year, females represented a mere 28.4 per cent of speaking characters in the top 100 movies — the lowest percentage of females in the five years covered in the study — and of those who did make it onscreen, nearly a third were depicted in sexually revealing clothing.

Not surprisingly, women were under-represented behind the cameras, too. The study found that only about 4 per cent of directors of the top 100 films were women, 12 per cent of writers were female and 20 per cent of producers.

Considering the attention given to the inequities for women in film, and the fact that females were seeming to gain some ground in the industry two years ago, the findings came as a surprise even to the researchers, according to Dr. Smith.

We spoke to the professor briefly at last week’s book party for Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams (pictured above) at the hilltop Bel Air home of Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker.   Movers and shakers from the film industry and medicine, community advocates and other illustrious guests were present for the event that began with a delicious garden luncheon by popular Australian foodie Georgie Smith (“Frugal but Fabulous”).  Williams read from her inspiring memoir My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize and talked about her latest activities in fighting violence against women.  She is also pushing hard for the banning of robotic weapons that can annihilate people without any human oversight. Williams was recognized with the 1997 Peace Prize for her role in the banning and clearing of land mines.

SPEAKING OF WOMEN IN ENTERTIANMENT:  Alan Alda tells us he is working on a rewrite of his play about Marie Curie.  In fact, “I’m always rewriting it, and making it a little better each time,” admits the multiple Emmy-winning star currently being seen as Laura Linney’s ascerbic oncologist on Showtime’s “The Big C.”  He adds, “I hope it will be done a lot of places.  It’s published by Samuel French, so theaters can pick up on it.  She’s a hero of mine, so I want to see that play make the rounds.  It’s fun to see that story, and moving to see her story.”  How about a movie adaptation of Alda’s play, starring Laura Linney as pioneering physicist Madame Curie.  Now that would be worth seeing.

HER HEART GOES OUT:  “There is no better son – what a great guy,” says Marilu Henner, referring to her “The Glades” cast mate Corbin Bernsen, whose mother passed away last month.  “He was on the phone with her the whole time we shot our first episode together.  He was great.”  Despite the fact that Henner and Bernsen have been friends for years, and he guested on her talk show, the two actors had never worked together before being cast as the parents of Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) on A&E’s “The Glades” – which, by the way, saw a nice ratings bump in its seasonal premiere this week.  “I’ll see him again when we go back to Miami.  It’s a wonderful set,” adds Marilu.  “Everybody is so nice.”

She says the same thing, by the way, about “Two and a Half Men,” on which she recently guested as sexy sexagenarian to whom Ashton Kutcher was attracted.  “I just loved that, and I think he’s going to be great as Steve Jobs.  He’s special, he really is,” she says.

CBS’s  “Unforgettable,” in which she has a recurring role – and for which she serves as inspiration and guide, with her nearly-perfect powers of recall – returns in July.


Sarandon Aimed to Avoid Health Guru Caricature on ‘Big C’

Susan Sarandon has been going from project to project to project over the last year or so, and says she was on the verge of taking a little work break when “The Big C” came her way. “I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do it until I read it, and knew what was going to happen at the end. That convinced me,” she tells us.

Sundays on the Showtime dark comedy, Sarandon’s self-help guru – Joy, the self-named and titled Joyologist — is a cancer survivor who leads others in finding their paths to true happiness via lectures, retreats, the gamut. Laura Linney’s and Oliver Platt’s characters fall under her charismatic spell.

“The only thing I was concerned about was making sure she was treated sincerely, you know?” notes the revered Oscar-winning actress. “I was trying to not be a caricature of those people that are in that business. And I think she really believes it, and you know, I felt she should actually help people even though other things happen later that maybe make you think of her in a different way. At least you start off, I think, believing she’s really sincere and has turned her cancer experience into something that is really positive, and that’s great.”

Speaking of positive, that’s the word she uses frequently to describe Linney – “just relentlessly positive and a total pro, of course, with a very welcome sense of humor.  Laura’s very special, she has a light and she’s trying to do something unique and funny and at the same time, a little dark.” Working on the show, she notes, “is a good excuse for us to stay in touch. You know, we kept running into each other. I’ve known her for years. But now I feel like I’m part of the family, and you take advantage of that as much as possible.”

Sarandon’s current string of films ranges from “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” now in release, to the upcoming “Arbitrage” with Richard Gere and Tim Roth, “The Company You Keep” with Robert Redford and Julie Christie, “Robot and Frank” with Frank Langella and Liv Tyler, and the sci-fi flick “Cloud Atlas,” in which she cross-dresses to play a man. However, the honesty-loving star is quick to point out that they are not large roles.

“I keep saying that they’re all — you need to put them all together and maybe you have two real films to my credit,” Sarandon says. “But I don’t mind going in almost like a temp and dealing with a certain problem that needs to be solved. And if the characters are fun and the company is inspiring, and they’re trying to do something different, I’m very happy to jump in for the ride.”

‘The Big C’ Phone Sex ‘Outrageous, Not Salacious’ Says John Benjamin Hickey

John Benjamin Hickey and Laura Linney Showtime photo

Showtime’s “The Big C” is already half-way through shooting of its third season, reports John Benjamin Hickey — with a roster of guest stars including Victor Garber, Tammy Blanchard, Allison Janney, Broadway star Brian d’Arcy James of “Smash,” and Susan Sarandon as the self help guru “joyologist” with whom Laura Linney’s and Oliver Platt’s characters become involved.

“Laura and I turned to each other today and said, ‘We should buy the casting director a new car.’ We have such extraordinary people,” reports the Tony-winning actor, who plays Linney’s bipolar, homeless brother Sean. He credits writer-producers Jenny Bicks and Darlene Hunt for the show’s sharp writing “and real level of class. But at the end of the day, it’s Laura that attracts the A+ talent. She’s as good as it gets.”

Hickey has what may be his wildest season yet, which is saying a lot considering what viewers have seen so far involving the anti-establishment, environmentalist Sean, who has been known to eat out of garbage cans and who lacks social filters, yet sometimes makes profound sense. This season — debuting April 8 — Sean gets a land line and winds up intercepting a fledgling gay phone sex business, and soon has himself a new occupation.

“He’s completely straight, but he has no homophobia or hangups and no problems with doing the virtual sex. It’s really, really funny,” Hickey claims. “We’ve created a comic universe for it to exist in, where it’s outrageous without ever being salacious. There’s a whole new level of ‘Sean-ness’ about it.”

Hickey also has a recurring role on “The Good Wife,” and may well turn up on “Modern Family” one of these days.   His long-time partner, Jeffrey Richman, is among the Emmy-winning writers on that series.

“I want to do the show. They asked me to do a couple of things a while back, but the timing wasn’t right and I couldn’t make it work. There’s something overwhelming about it because I’m such an unbelievable fan of that show. Every single cast member is extraordinary. I would be so thrilled, I would have to do a lot of yoga to calm my nerves.”