Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell writes features and reviews movies, music, events and the arts for The Oklahoman, Oklahoma's statewide newspaper, and NewsOK.com, the state's largest news Web site. Raised on a farm near Lindsay, Okla., she started her journalism career in seventh grade, when she was elected reporter for her school's 4-H Club. Taking her duties seriously, she began submitting stories to The Lindsay News, and worked for the local weekly through high school. She attended Oklahoma State University, where she worked for The Daily O'Collegian and earned her journalism degree with honors. She worked for three years at small Oklahoma dailies The Edmond Sun and Shawnee News-Star. In 2002, she joined The Oklahoman as a features reporter, writing about movies, the arts, events, families and nonprofits. She moved to The Oklahoman's entertainment desk in 2007. In 2004, she won a prestigious Journalism Fellowship in Child & Family Policy from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Along with her membership in AWFJ, she also is a founding member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Brandy writes The Week In Women blog for AWFJ.org.

 

Articles by Brandy McDonnell

 

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News about Cate Shortland, Julianne Moore and Emmy Awards — Brandy McDonnell reports

Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland has been tapped to helm Black Widow, which will finally let Scarlett Johansson’s clever and capable assassin-turned-Avenger stand in her own spotlight instead of lurking in the shadow of the guys. Oscar winner Julianne Moore is in negotiations to join Amy Adams in The Woman in the Window, Fox 2000’s adaptation of A.J. Finn.’s book. The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards announced Thursday, indicate encouraging strides for women and people of color. More than a third of the 101 acting nominations went to ethnic minorities, up from a quarter of the field last year. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Keri Russell, Salma Hayek and “Bao” Filmmaker Domee Shi making News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Golden Globe winner Keri Russell is reportedly in talks to head to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Episode IX, in a role that calls for action-heavy fight scenes. Ordered by Netflix, Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions will produce Monarca, an original drama series from Mexico. The series is a high-stakes, multi-generational family saga about a tequila-born Mexican business empire and the fighting that erupts when a member of the family decides to fight the dirty system her family helped to create. Domee Shi, whose innovative and emotive short, Bao. is playing in theaters with Incredibles 2, is Pixar’s first short film director. She began as a storyboarding intern at Pixar seven years ago and is now working on her own feature film. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News about FAITH, Ritter and AMPAS — Brandy McDonnell reports

It looks like Hollywood is finally embracing a comic-book heroine who doesn’t look like a voluptuous stick woman with the mold-breaking superhero Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr, set to soar on onto the big screen in a live-action adaptation of Faith, the first prominent plus-sized female superhero to grace the pages of Valiant Comics. Speaking of superheroes, Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter will make her directorial debut on a Season 3 episode of the Marvel Netflix series. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences boost the percentage of women members with its record-setting 2018 invitations list. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: DGA’s Shameful Stats, Baltimore Femme Film Initiative and Ry Russo-Young — Brandy McDonnell reports

The Directors Guild of America’s recent released study shows that of 651 feature films released in 2017 with ticket sales of at least $250,000, 12 percent of the directors were women. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of female movie directors has basically been stuck in the 8 to 16 percent range. The Baltimore-based fledgling Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media at Johns Hopkins might shift the stats by awarding nine Baltimore-based women filmmakers production grants totaling $400,000. Filmmaker Ry Russo-Young may also move the needle with her The Sun Is Also A Star, now in production. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Filmmaker Amy Scott talks HAL and Women in Hollywood — Brandy McDonnell interviews

amy scott hedshotAmy Scott was inspired to helm Hal, her first feature film, after reading Nick Dawson’s Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel. Chronicling the influential insider’s career, Scott’s documentary is an insightful chapter in Hollywood history. “It was a fascinating look at his life and his journey. And I just connected with Hal because he was an editor for a number of years, won an Oscar for editing ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ And he directed his first film when he was 40, and I thought, ‘Hmm, OK, it’s not too late,” Scott said. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Alfre Woodard Talks Inclusion, ‘Luke Cage’ and What’s Next — Brandy McDonnell interviews

alfre woodardAlfre Woodard, named one of the deadCenter Film Festival’s 2018 Oklahoma Film Icon Award winners, considers herself an “original gangster,” saying that after four decades in show business she has seen plenty of trends come and go. That includes the trend of including women or people of color in movies and television shows just because it happens to be fashionable at the moment, or because someone else had success doing it. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Lena Waithe, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Natalie Dormer Making News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Lena Waithe, the first woman of color to win an Emmy for best writing in a comedy series for her work on Master of None will receive MTV’s Trailblazer Award, presented to honor content creators who introduce new and unique voices within the entertainment industry. Waithe, who starred in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, is the creator, writer and producer of Showtime’s The Chi.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, showrunner for BBC America’s new drama Killing Eve is opening opportunity for women on camera by swapping out male characters for compelling and complex female leads. Natalie Dormer is set to star as Vivien Leigh in an upcoming series focusing on the iconic Gone with The Wind star’s personal and professional successes and struggles. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Olivia Munn Receives Justice Award, Speaks Out on Equal Pay and #MeToo and More — Brandy McDonnell interviews

Olivia Munn, known for her onscreen work in HBO’s The Newsroom, in the X-Men film franchise and on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show returned to her home state of Oklahoma earlier this spring to be recognized for her leading lady role in Hollywood’s #MeToo moment. Munn, 37, received the inaugural Voice for Justice Award for her leadership and activism against sexual harassment in the workplace at the University of Oklahoma’s Women’s and Gender Studies Board of Advocates fourth annual Voices for Change gala. Read what Munn has to say about the #MeToo movement and quest for equal pay for women on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women Protest at Cannes, Chastain-led 355 Scores Deal, Witherspoon’s Girls Film Program — Brandy McDonnell reports

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Jury Chair Cate Blanchett and Palme d’Or-winning director Agnes Varda stood among 82 women in film who gathered on the red carpet at the Lumière Theater to protest the 71 year old festival’s exceptionally poor record on inclusion of women in all areas of festival programming, and demand greater equality for women in the film industry. Also at Cannes, the Jessica Chastain-led spy thriller 355 scores a big deal with Universal Pictures. And, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company is joining with AT&T and Fresh Films to create the AT&T Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab for teenage girls. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Clarkson to Helm STAR TREK 4, Swinton to Star in Weerasethakul Film, Khazanova’s directorial debut

S.J. Clarkson has been tapped to direct Star Trek 4, making her the first female to helm a film in the “Star Trek” franchise. Clarkson is known for her television work on Dexter, Bates Motel, Orange is the New Black, and the Marvel series The Defenders. Tilda Swinton will star in Memoria, the next feature film from Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Former Bolshoi ballerina Alisa Khazanova’s directorial debut feature film, a thriller titled Middleground, will get a theatrical and global VOD/Digital release beginning May 18. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women on Cannes Jury, Women at Tribeca Film Festival, Karen Gillian Directs First Feature — Brandy McDonnell reports

Actor-turned-filmmaker Karen Gillan premiered her first feature, The Party’s Just Beginning at Tribeca Film Festival. Held in NYC from April xx to xx, this year”/ TriBeCa Film Festival program came close to gender parity with 46 percent of its feature films directed by women. In other film festival news, Cannes, set for May 8-19, will for the first time since 2014, boast a female-majority jury, with Cate Blanchett presiding. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Sundance Film Festival London, Cathy Yan and Lynda Carter — Brandy McDonnell reports

Sundance Film Festival: London plans to showcase female filmmakers. Filmmaker Cathy Yan, 2018 Sundance Film Festival breakout writer-director, is in talks to helm a DC film featuring Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad anti-hero Harley Quinn. Lynda Carter might appear in Wonder Woman 2. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Female Helmers take HALF THE PICTURE and LUKE CAGE 2. Hodson Writes BATGIRL — Brandy McDonnell reports

Amy Adrion’s documentary, Half the Picture, presents a compelling account of the horror stories female directors face. Femme-helmers will rule the set for half of the episodes of Luke CageSeason 2. Unforgettable scripter Christina Hodson has been tapped to write the Batgirl movie. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: HIDDEN FIGURES TV Series, Wood in July Heister, Rodriguez Plays Sandiego — Brandy McDonnell reports

Netflix has acquired the live-action feature film rights to Carmen Sandiego, attaching Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez (the CW series Jane the Virgin to star as the title character. Rodriguez has also been cast alongside Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s Westworld) to star in indie filmmaker Miranda July’s latest project, a heist film from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, with production beginning in May. Nat Geo is developing a series inspired by Hidden Figures, the 2016 Oscar-nominated film about the black women mathematicians who were unsung heroes in launching the early-day of the American space program. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion Rules Box Office, Robbie in Production, Kudos to Munn — Brandy McDonnell reports

Films with women or minorities in lead roles led the box office 11 out of the first 12 weekends this year, compared to 2017, when the same 12-week period had only five weekend dominated by films with women or minorities in the lead. The more than double change is a another good indicator that inclusion is a winning strategy. Margot Robbie is turning her I Tonya box office prowess into classical clout by
partnering with the Australian Broadcasting Company and others to a new 10-part series retelling William Shakespeare’s tales from female perspectives. Olivia Munn is being honored by her alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, for speaking out against sexual harassment. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion tops box office with BLACK PANTHER and A WRINKLE IN TIME — Brandy McDonnell reports

Ignore the headlines about Black Panther dominating A Wrinkle in Time at the box office. Yes, the commercial and critical juggernaut that is Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has topped earnings on the domestic cinema release list for the fourth consecutive week, relegating Ava DuVernay’s much-hyped adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s beloved femme-centric young-adult book into second place. But both movies are from Disney, which thus far has winning tickets in the inclusion category for 2018. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion is the 2018 Oscars theme, but Frances McDormand calls for more — Brandy McDonnell reports

Film Frances McDormandFrances McDormand undoubtedly sent people rushing to their Google search bars when she capped her Oscar acceptance with “two words: ‘inclusion rider.’” Most people are at least somewhat familiar with riders, which are provisional clauses in contracts, and an inclusion rider would be put into actors and other film workers’ contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in the hiring for the project. McDormand’s pointed comment epitomizes the overall theme of the 2018 Oscars, at which presenters and award winners continually made demands for inclusion and diversity, as well as equal opportunity and representation industry-wide. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Strong Women behind BLACK PANTHER, Chenoweth joins TRIAL & ERROR, kids get free tix for A WRINKLE IN TIME — Brandy McDonnell reports

Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” has been garnering praise for its mostly African-American cast and its depiction of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. But this superhero movie isn’t just a testosterone-fest. It is a showcase for smart, dynamic and capable women who are the power behind the mythical nation’s throne. Kristen Chenoweth is set to show her strength in season two of Trial & Error. And free tickets will be distributed to underprivileged kids so they can see and be inspired by Ava DuVernay‘s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: A Guide to Seeing This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscars goldThe 90th Oscars will be handed out Sunday at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central / 5 p.m. Pacific Time. There’s still time to catch up on seeing the nominees in theaters and on smaller screens before the big event. See our guide on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You may also be interested in reading about AWFJ’s 2018 Oscar Predictions.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Fewer Female Protagonists in 2017 — Brandy McDonnell reports

Dismal stats reported in this year’s edition of the annual It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World report, released on February 22 by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, show that the number of female protagonists in Hollywood’s top grossing 100 films dropped during 2017, despite the blockbuster success of Wonder Woman and other femme-led films. Just how bad is it? Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Record-Breaking BLACK PANTHER Proves Inclusion Sells in Cinema — Brandy McDonnell reports

The combined success of the record-breaking, critical acclaim-nabbing and audience-thrilling success of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, introducing a black superhero and boasting a largely black cast, and the recent record-breaking, critical acclaim-nabbing and audience-thrilling successWonder Woman, whixh gave female filmgoers a superhero in their own image, should prove to Hollywood that inclusion sells in cinema, but will it bring real change in the making of movies? Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: SXSW Salutes Women, Harvard Honors Kunis, DGA Awards and Streep Joins ‘LIES’ Cast — Brandy McDonnell reports

Texas’ South By Southwest Festival (March 9-18) showcases several promising projects by women directors including three femme-helmed features, one documentary and a documentary series from Netflix. The Directors Guild of America presented top TV show awards to three shows focusing on women’s stories — The Handmaid’s Tale, Veep and Big Little Lies — and honored directors Reed Morano, Niki Caro and Beth McCarthy-Miller for their work on television series and miniseries. Additionally, DGA President Thomas Schlamme awards ceremony opening speech emphasized the guild’s commitment to opposing sexual harassment. Meryl Streep will join the cast of Big Little Lies in season two. And, Harvard’s The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the US, honored Mila Kunis with it’s Woman of the Year award, while also announcing that year’s production will embrace gender-neutral casting. Read all the details in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMAN: 90th Oscar Noms Mark Milestones for Women and Diversity — Brandy McDonnell reports

In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, #MeToo and a cavalcade of sexual misconduct scandals brought to light after explosive investigative reports about Harvey Weinstein, the 2018 Oscar nominations marked several milestones for women, African-Americans and transgender people making movies. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Blanchett Chairs Cannes Jury, Women Helmers Underrepresented, Wahlberg Donates to ‘Time’s Up’ — Brandy McDonnell reports

Last year, out of the 109 people who directed the top 100 movies, just eight were women, according to the latest stats from Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. That’s 4.3 percent! Following the pay disparity controversy between earnings for Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, Wahlberg is donating all of his take from the ‘All the Money in the World’ reshoot to the Time’s Up equality initiative. And, brava! Cate Blanchett is set to head this year’s Cannes jury. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Oprah Commands Golden Globes, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI get top billing, while THE SHAPE OF WATER dominates Critics Choice and AWFJ EDA Awards — Brandy McDonnell reports

Oprah Winfrey drew repeated ovations from the Hollywood honchos assembled for the Golden Globes, as issued a warning — not once, but three times — to powerful men who abuse women: “Their time is up!” And this year’s big Golden Globe winner is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But voting members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association/Broadcast Television Journalists Association and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists picked The Shape of Water and their big winner. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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