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.

 

Articles by Brandy McDonnell

 

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Latest on Patty Jenkins, Saoirse Ronan, Reese Witherspoon and Annie Clark aka St. Vincent — Brandy McDonnell reports

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is set to direct a new version of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, starring a woman in the title role. Saoirse Ronan takes on the title role in Mary, Queen of Scots, opposite Margot Robbie as Elizabeth. Reese Witherspoon talks rom com evolution as represented by her latest, Home Again, the directorial debut Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of acclaimed director Nancy Meyers. And, Patty Jenkins is upping the income ante on Wonder Woman II, following the first film’s mega box office success. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Gadot Seeks Gold, Chastain Joins X-MEN, Woodard Becomes Lionesque and Lamarr Gets Documentary — Brandy McDonnell reports

Warner Bros. will mount an Oscar campaign for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, striving to get first-ever comic book film nominations. Jessica Chastain joins the X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast as Lilandra Neramani, Princess-Majestrix of the Shi’ar Empire, a humanoid species with birdlike attributes. Alfre Woodard will be the voice of Simba’s mom in director Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s The Lion King. And, come November, Hedy Lamarr returns to silver screens with the release of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary directed by Alexandra Dean and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: USC Studies Show Numbers Still Dismal for Women in Film –Brandy McDonnell reports

Two studies released in the past week out of the University of Southern California confirm that films remain predominantly white and male both in front of and behind the cameras – meaning that basically everyone else — from women and people of color to LGBT individuals and people with disabilities — remain woefully underrepresented. Read the shocking stats and more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood’s sexist ways and box-office prospects — Brandy McDonnell comments

It’s been a lackluster summer at the domestic box office, and it may just be that Hollywood’s failure to adapt to the reality that women moviegoers want to see more movies starring women that has at least in part caused this summer’s blahs. Warner Bros. Pictures, however, reached a rare milestone this weekend by exceeding the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office. The studio owes a lot of its 2017 success to the superheroic performance of Wonder Woman, which surpassed Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” to become the summer’s highest-grossing film with $389 million. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Whittaker lands DOCTOR WHO, DuVernay teases WRINKLE and Henson joins WRECK-IT — Brandy McDonnell reports

The 13th Doctor is in, and the iconic science fiction series finally has a female lead. Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th time lord on the long-running Doctor Who series. Ava DuVernay revealed the first trailer for her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time at D23, the Disney fan expo in Anaheim, California. The science fiction thriller also has female leads. Storm Reid stars as Meg, with Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey as supernatural guides on Meg’s inter-dimensional journey to rescue her father. In good casting news, Taraji. P. Henson joins the Wreck-It Ralph sequel and Lily James joins the Mamma Mia! follow-up. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Geena Davis, Alicia Silverstone and New Stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

Geena Davis celebrates 25th anniversary of ‘A League of Their Own,’ while Alicia Silverstone reflects on the legacy of ‘Clueless.’ Plus, Jennifer, Lawrence, Zoe Saldana, Carrie Underwood, Kirsten Dunst, Taraji P. Henson and more will get stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: ‘Wonder Woman’ sets more records, ‘The Beguiled’ tests female vs. male gazes, and more

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, the first full-fledged cinematic outing for the venerable superhero, achieved another milestone, becoming the highest-grossing film within the DC Extended Universe films. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled tests female vs. male gazes, while comparing the careers of Colin Trevorrow and Mimi Leder tests the patience of female film fans. And Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana and Shonda Rhimes are among the women to earn 2018 stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Patty Jenkins and WONDER WOMAN Lasso Records — Brandy McDonnell reports

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman. The superhero adventure eclipsed the $609.8 million racked up by 2008’s Mamma Mia!, the Abba movie musical directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Since Jenkins directed Charlize Theron to Oscar victory with her acclaimed biopic Monster (2003), she’s directed episodes of television’s Arrested Development and Entourage, and the Emmy-nominated pilot for The Killing, but she has had to wait 14 years before directing another feature film. Wake up, Hollywood! Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News Wrap: “Wonder Woman” soars, “Mummy” stumbles, plus Cowperthwaite, DuVernay and Winfrey — Brandy McDonnell reports

Wonder Woman” really unwrapped “The Mummy” at this week’s box office, while Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s “Megan Leavey” took an unexpectedly big bite of the take, too — again proving to Hollywood that American filmgoers — both women and men — love seeing women’s stories on the big screen. Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey speak out for diversity and inclusion. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Jenkins and Coppola Make Movie History

Between Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and Sofia Coppola’ The Beguiled, the past two weeks have been benchmark for female filmmakers. Wonder Women is the highest earning female director, and The Beguiled won prizes for Coppola at Cannes. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: MANKILLER sets Premier, Female Directors at LAFF and DOXA, Robbie’s DREAMLAND

Mankiller, a documentary about Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, will premiere in July at LA Film Festival, which also boasts that 42 percent of its programmed films are directed by women. Margot Robbie is set to produce and star in Dreamland, a heist thriller. Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival recognizes women directors with AWFJ EDA Awards and other honors. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Filmmaker Liz W. Garcia, Diane Keaton and Miranda Lambert make news — Brandy McDonnell reports

Filmmaker Liz W. Garcia says the key to getting more women behind film and television cameras is to stop accepting Hollywood’s lame excuses for not hiring women. Diane Keaton Diane Keaton will receive the American Film Institute’s 45th Life Achievement Award during a gala tribute June 8 in Los Angeles. Two-time Grammy winner Miranda Lambert will oversee the music curation and write an original song for the new friendship comedy Something in the Water, created through Lionsgate digital. Read the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN Wrap: 25 Femme-Helmed Movies and News about Lively, Kidman and Robbie — Brandy McDonnell reports

Here’s a list of 25 intriguing femme-helmed movies coming soon. Blake Lively speaks out on equality, Nicole Kidman pulls off a remarkable career renaissance, and Margot Robbie is cast to portray Queen Elizabeth I. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Chastain, Thurman, Adams and ‘Captain Marvel’ in the News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Jessica Chastain’s strong stand on equal pay, Uma Thurman to head Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury, Amy Adams will receive the American Cimemateque Award. Ama Boden and Ryan Fleck tapped to helm ‘Captain Marvel,’ and more news in this week’s THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Carrie Fisher, Cate Blanchett, Reba McEntire and more… — Brandy McDonnell reports

Star Wars fans have their last opportunity to see Carrie Fisher as princess-turned-general Leia Organa in Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, due in December. Cate Blanchett is Marvel’s first female villain, Reba McEntire to star in Red Blooded on TV, and Beauty and the Beast tops $1-billion. THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Caro and Chastain challenge status quo, Robbie scores revisionist ROBIN HOOD, Ivy Film Fest plays women composers and more — Brandy McDonnell reports

Set to direct Disney’s live action remake of Mulan, Niki Caro becomes the fourth woman director to helm a $100-million movie. Jessica Chastain says she is looking for roles that push against societal constraints. Margot Robbie set to star in Marian, a revisionist version of the macho Robin Hood tale. Women composers are featured at this year’s Ivy Film Festival, Brown University’s student-run showcase. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: “BEAUTY” takes Box Office , Goldie Hawn is named Icon and more — Brandy McDonnell reports

In this week’s news wrap, Beauty and the Beast continues its box-office dominance, while CinemaCon names the inimitable Goldie Hawn at its Cinema Icon, and the legacy of legendary Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds is remembered at an afternoon memorial with music, memories and more than a few tears at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ sets box office records for female-fueled films – Brandy McDonnell reports

beauty and the beast posterDisney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” proved magical, AWFJ’s #MOTW for March 17, has set several box-office records during its first weekend in theaters. The lavish movie-musical version of the fairytale story conjured up an incredible $170 million in North America and $350 million globally. It is the biggest debut of all time for a female-fueled film, proving yet again that female protagonists are strong both on screen and at the box office. The numbers underscore the buying power of women and girls. On Friday, more than 70 percent of ticket buyers were females, with the overall weekend percentage at 60 percent, per Disney’s numbers as cited by The Hollywood Reporter. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: King Kong’s leading lady gets a much-needed upgrade — Brandy McDonnell reports

skull island brie larsonKong: Skull Island emerged as box office king, debuting at No. 1 with a $61 million take. The latest cinematic outing for the “eighth wonder of the world” topped international charts, too, earning $81.6 million from 66 territories. Since this version of Kong is here to stay for a while, it’s a good thing the director and screenwriters Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World) gave the female lead (Brie Larson) an overhaul nearly as dramatic as the supersizing of the gigantic gorilla. She’s a seasoned and fearless “anti-war photographer” who doesn’t tote a gun, but gets her team out of harrowing encounters with the Skull Island’s myriad monsters. She’s first to empathize with Kong and realize he’s not the mindless killing machine soldiers and scientists believe him to be. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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Oscars 2017: Victories for ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land’ and Viola Davis — Brandy McDonnell reports (Exclusive)

oscar logoIn a twist ending that only Hollywood could dream up, “Moonlight” won best picture Sunday night after a mixed-up finish at the 89th Academy Awards. Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar for acting. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscars set records but women are still underrepresented — Brandy McDonnell reports

oscar logoThis year’s Oscar nods are good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way, especially since I’m sure it will come to no surprise to industry watchers or regular readers of this blog. Despite a slew of attention-getting films such as “Jackie,” “Arrival” and “Hidden Figures.” all featuring featuring strong, complex women as leading characters, the number of female Oscar nominees for behind-the-scenes roles dropped among this year’s Academy Award nominations. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Arrival’ screenwriter Eric Heisserer was offered the chance to make the movie sooner if he’d make the lead a man — Brandy McDonnell reports

Eric Heisserer spent more than a decade trying to get Ted Chiang’s award-winning 1998 sci-fi novella “Story of Your Life” made into a movie. Last year, under the direction of “Sicario’s” Denis Villeneuve, his dream finally arrived in theaters as “Arrival.” But the Oscar-nominated screenwriter says he could have seen it hit theaters much sooner if he was willing to make one major change: Turning the lead into a man instead of a woman. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News Wrap: EEOC action on Hollywood Studios, plus Burstyn and St. Vincent to Direct — Brandy McDonnell reports

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations initiated in 2015 have been concluded, and the commission has found that all Hollywood studios have systemically discriminated against female directors. The EEOC is reportedly attempting to resolve the charges made against the studios, but if they’re unable to do so, may file a lawsuit. Actress Ellen Burstyn, however, is not waiting to make her directorial debut. At age 84, she’ll helm her first feature, a comedy titled Bathing Flo. And experimental rocker St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) makes her directorial debut as part of XX, an all-female horror anthology that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month and arrived in theaters and on Video on Demand, Amazon Video and iTunes this Friday. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ plus Chastain, Bening and Kidman get gigs and Women in Special Effects — Brandy McDonnell reports

Disney has announced that production on “Mary Poppins Returns,” the studio’s sequel to its 1964 “Mary Poppins,” has commenced at Shepperton Studios. The film stars Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt and Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Directed by Oscar nominee, Emmy and DGA Awards winner Rob Marshall, the film is scheduled for a Dec. 25, 2018 release. Jessica Chastain is producing a TV series about NASA women. Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films has optioned Janice Y.K Lee’s The Expatriates for a TV series. Annette Bening joins the cast of FX’s Hurricane Katrina anthology series. And, women rule in special effects at Lucas’Industrial Light & Magic. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: The Women of HIDDEN FIGURES — Brandy McDonnell Reports

hidden-figures-5Once the feel-good film of awards season, ‘Hidden Figures’ is now a big winner and a big moneymaker. Throughout this film awards cycle, Hidden Figures has been the crowd-pleasing, uplifting fan favorite. This weekend, the fact-based period drama about the African-American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA during the space race won the top prize at the SAG Awards and crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Will the film’s success make a difference? The real women whose stories are told in the film hope it will. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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