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: 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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OKLAHOMA CITY — Review by Brandy McDonnell

It may be heartrending and stomach-churning to watch, especially for Oklahoma natives and residents like me, but the new PBS documentary “Oklahoma City” is timely and vital viewing. The harrowing film, which made its world premiere last month at the Sundance Film Festival, does more than just recap the destruction wrought by Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: RIP Mary Tyler Moore, plus news on Octavia Spencer, Lily Tomlin, Kristen Chenoweth and more — by Brandy McDonnell

In this THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup.we remember the wonderful Mary Tyler Moore, report on honors for Octavia Spencer and Lily Tomlin, follow Kristin Chenoweth’s praise for Lion for its treatment of adoption, and praise Kerry Washington as she urges courage at Sundance. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: 2017 Oscar Nominations — Brandy McDonnell comments

With the 2017 Oscar nominations, the Academy broke or tied multiple records. The movie musical “La La Land” earned a leading 14 nominations, putting it in a tie with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most in Academy Awards history. Its nods include best picture, best director and best original screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, best actress for Emma Stone and best actor for Ryan Gosling. How did they fare on gender parity and diversity? Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: News wrap around Oscars, SAGs, Lily Tomlin Honored and More — Brandy McDonnell reports

lily tomlin headshotThe Academy will forego a live audience for the nomination announcements, instead livestreaming them at Oscars.org, which has caused quite a flap among publicists and members of the press. But everyone’s delighted that Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton will present SAGs Life Achievement Award to brilliant, all-round entertainment maverick Lily Tomlin during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. And more coursgeous female stars are speaking out to spark change in Hollywood. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia Legacy — Brandy McDonnell comments

princess leiaWhen my sister and I were kids during the 80s, it was ALWAYS a good time to play Star Wars. We were Star Wars diehards, determined to follow the good side, not the dark. But there was a problem: There was only one heroine in that far away galaxy. So, when it came time to play Stars Wars, tough decisions had to be made. Would one of us play Han Solo or Luke Skywalker? That was no good: We were tomboys, not boys. Sometimes we both played Princess Leia, and sometimes we created our own female characters — because when we were growing up there was only one woman who got to be a hero. And while that may have been severely limiting, at least Star Wars had one. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Number of women directors falls, female characters have less to say — Brandy McDonnell reports

The number of female feature film directors has fallen, female characters have far less chance to talk in movies and there continues to be a huge gender pay gap in Hollywood. 2016 actually gave some reason to be hopeful about women in the movies. Disney released three stellar animated movies – Zootopia, Moana and Pixar’s Finding Dory — and all featuring female lead characters, none of them traditional damsels in distress. Women were leads in two smash sci-fi films with Arrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with the latter becoming the second movie in the Star Wars saga to have a female lead. And the period drana Hidden Figures, based on real-life stories of African-American women who worked behind the scenes as mathematicians to help launch the first U.S. astronauts into space, is a hit at the box office. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘La La Land’ keeps dancing, ‘Moonlight’ still shining, ‘Kubo’ makes history — Brandy McDonnell reports

LLL d 41-42_6689.NEFLast weekend’s Golden Globes established La La Land as a clear front-runner — closely followed by Moonlight — in upcoming races for the prestigious awards doled out by the DGA, PGA, BAFTA and, ultimately, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Now, nominations have been announced by all but the Academy. To see how they compare, read Brandy McDonnell’s awards season update on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Golden Globes and Wonder Woman, Space and Women Win Box Office – Brandy McDonnell reports

At the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 74th annual Golden Globe Awards, La La Land took all seven awards for which it was nominated, while Meryl Streep, honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, took on Donald Trump for mocking a disabled reporter during his campaign. Streep called on the press to keep the powerful in check and for the Hollywood community to support the Committee to Protect Journalists. Wonder Woman, finally fighting her way to the silver screen, will open June 2. Hidden Figures and the blockbuster prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finished in a virtual tie for first at the domestic box office. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Golden Globes So White? – Brandy McDonnell comments

The Golden Globes might actually be a revealing indicator of how Hollywood’s entire awards structure has responded to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past few years. Again, the Globes have twice as many categories as the Oscars, honoring the best lead and supporting players in both drama and musical/comedy films. But this year’s fields are refreshingly diverse with nominees like Loving‘s Ruth Negga, Fences‘ Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, Hidden Figures‘ Octavia Spencer, Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris and Lion‘s Dev Patel competing. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Geena Davis and Hollywood Gender Equality — Brandy McDonnell reports

geena-davisAfter more than a decade of commissioning research and advocating for change through her Institute on Gender and Media, Geena Davis says that she believes Hollywood may be at a “turning point” regarding gender equality. Speaking at Fast Company’s recent FCLA event, Davis said there has been a “tonal shift” over the last few years, especially with stars like Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Lawrence, and Natalie Portman showing they’re unafraid to speak up on the issue. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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