1. “Wondering Woman.” Mark Harris on why Warner Bros. axed Michelle MacLaren, and what that tells us about the state of female directors in Hollywood.
“To translate all of that into English: Since studio development executives are now asked to be property managers rather than movie developers, not many of them are capable of sitting down and talking about what a story should be. And none of them wants to risk his neck by committing early to the wrong choice. So, like many modern-day blockbusters, Wonder Woman will be developed via the monkeys-at-typewriters approach: Let’s have a bunch of different people write different Wonder Woman scripts, pick the parts that we sort of like better than the others, proceed to humiliate the ’winning’ writers by asking them to interpolate the stuff from the ’losing’ scripts that we also kind of liked, let the WGA work out the credits and mop up the blood and tears, sew everything together, and sell the resulting Frankenmovie to an audience we will have programmed (via an incessant drumbeat of teasers, trailers, and post-credit sequences) to show up for whatever this thing turns out to be. That certainly sounds like every writer and director’s dream.”
2. “How Gordon Ramsay went from being crusty but lovable in the U.K. to a fuming madman in the U.S.” Calum Marsh understands the American appetite for the extreme.
“The trouble is that Ramsay was never the fuming madman the American networks made him out to be. That’s nothing more than a ruse—a character for sale abroad. I remember feeling astonished, the first time I watched an episode of the original Kitchen Nightmares: the hostility wasn’t there. Ramsay wasn’t lambasting anybody; he wasn’t scolding the busboys for delays or upbraiding the line cooks for slip-ups; he could even be seen, on occasion, smiling and laughing like an ordinary person. You’d never know it were you familiar with him from the show’s America iteration, but in the United Kingdom, Ramsay is exceptionally charismatic, even charming. Mildly pugnacious, perhaps, but likably so, a consequence of his enthusiasm and care. When he yells and screams it’s only on behalf of the people he’s helping.”
3. “The Strange Experience of Having My Memoir Turned Into a Movie.” Stephen Elliott would appear to have problems with the film adaptation of The Adderall Diaries.
“Stories about truth tend to deal with grey areas. In my memoir, ostensibly the basis for the movie, I wrestle with my father’s memories, which stand in stark contrast to my own. In the stories I always told, I was an abused child who was homeless for a year and then made a ward of the court. In my father’s memory of events, I was a spoiled kid who could have come home anytime he wanted. The idea that two people can hold truths that contradict each other but are still true for them is where I find much of the energy of the narrative. I realized while working on the book that to write about my father, I needed to understand his truth, even as it contradicted my own. I needed to see the world through his eyes. The movie handles this in a less complicated way. In the movie, there is only one truth. The person on the other side of the argument is a liar. Topics of memory and competing truths are exactly what my book is about. To lie requires intent. Over the course of my life and conflicts, I’ve rarely come across a real liar, someone who knows they’re lying. Occasionally, sure, but most people are better than that. Most people believe what they say—including me, including my father.”
4. “The Anti-Mamet: On Tina Fey’s Men.” Nicholas Miriello, for the Los Angeles Review of Books, on masculinity in 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
“This blurred focus on masculinity and gender politics at large (for a primetime network sitcom no less) would soon pose problems, however, as Fey’s iconoclasm would be confused with iconography. Just because Fey could mock the hypermasculine didn’t mean the feminine was safe from scrutiny. On the contrary, this shifting gaze between the absolute idiocies of masculinity and the assumed responsibilities of femininity meant that Fey’s Lemon would also be made a caricature, not an idol.”
5. “Larry Kramer: ’How could you not realise Mark Twain was gay?’” His new book displays the passionate politics that made him famous – and earned him heavy criticism, too. Yet at 79, the man who claimed that silence equalled death still has much to say.
“His people are gay, and they have mostly been ignored by conventional history. The book’s animating idea is spoken by Kramer’s own stand-in in the book: ’If Fred’s history will seem less unbiased than some would wish, let it never be overlooked that it is no small task to record a history of hate when one is among the hated.’ ’Most histories are written by straight people who wouldn’t know, see the signs that a gay person does when they look at a person’s life,’ Kramer said. ’I mean, how could you write the life of Mark Twain without realising that he was hugely, hugely gay? The way he lived, who his friends were, and how his relationships began. And what he wrote about! I don’t know how you could avoid the assumption that he’s gay.’ (Kramer is not the first to raise this possibility, but it is not a view accepted by most Twain scholars.)”
Video of the Day: Disney’s Tomorrowland gets a third trailer:
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