WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: Dynamic women behind the throne of “Black Panther,” Kristin Chenoweth tapped for Season 2 of ‘Trial & Error,’ free tickets to ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ for underprivileged children

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From left, Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira appear in a scene from "Black Panther." Marvel Studios photo

From left, Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira appear in a scene from “Black Panther.” Marvel Studios photo

Woman provide the power behind the throne of ‘Black Panther’

Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” has been garnering all kinds of praise, from its mostly African-American cast to its depiction of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

Among the plaudits, that this superhero movie isn’t just a testosterone-fest, but a showcase for smart, dynamic and capable women who are the power behind the throne for the new King T’Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman): Wise Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), who is one of her son’s most trusted counselors, and T’Challa’s sister, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), a brilliant teenage scientist who has developed many groundbreaking inventions. T’Challa’s former lover, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), is a spy and warrior who fights for her country as well as for people in need. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the leader of the Dora Milaje, the king’s all-woman secret service and intelligence force.

“We need this to be the norm,” Gurira told the New York Daily News. “The norm should be that women characters get to be complex and powerful, and deeply present in the storyline, without question or equivocation.

“I’m very much an advocate of girls and women reaching their fullest potential in this world, and really giving awareness around the things that block them. … The idea of contributing to that through representation means everything to me.”

Director Ryan Coogler told the Daily News there was never any doubt the women of Wakanda would be prominent.

“I wanted to give them full range in our narrative and … an impact on the narrative, because in my life, the women around me are exceptional,” Coogler said. “And it’s because they’re exceptional that I’m able to do what I’m allowed to do. I think that idea is just one that often times, for whatever reason, you don’t see in film.”

As previously reported, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University recently released its annual “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” and found a shortage not only of films starring women in the lead roles but also featuring women in major roles.

Women made up 37 percent of major characters — a broader category that includes actors who were not primary protagonists — in those top-grossing films in the U.S. and Canada. Major characters were defined as those that appeared in more than one scene and were important to the film’s plot. Male characters accounted for nearly two-thirds of the major roles.

According to the Associated Press, “Black Panther” has grossed $400 million domestically and $704 million worldwide in two weeks. The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is only the fourth film to earn $100 million in its second weekend, along with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($149.2 million), “Jurassic World” ($106.6 million) and fellow MCU movie “The Avengers” ($103.1 million).

Kristin Chenoweth has been cast as Lavinia Peck-Foster in the second season of NBC’s irreverent comedy series “Trial & Error." Photo by Trae Patton, NBC

Kristin Chenoweth has been cast as Lavinia Peck-Foster in the second season of NBC’s irreverent comedy series “Trial & Error.” Photo by Trae Patton, NBC

Kristin Chenoweth tapped for Season 2 of NBC comedy ‘Trial & Error’

Multi-talented Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth has been cast as Lavinia Peck-Foster in the second season of NBC’s irreverent comedy series “Trial & Error.”

As I reported on my BAM’s Blog, the series is a spoof of crime documentaries that in Season 1 centered on the arrest and trial of a beloved poetry professor (played by John Lithgow) from the fictional small town of East Peck, South Carolina, who was accused of brutally murdering his wife, and the young Northeastern lawyer (Nicholas D’Agosto) hired to defend him. The first season also starred Jayma Mays, Steven Boyer, Krysta Rodriguez and Sherri Shepherd.

Here’s what NBC has revealed about Chenoweth’s character in a news release:

Who is Lavinia Peck-Foster? The first lady of East Peck is a larger-than-life grand dame — at least in her own mind. She is an eccentric heiress known for her flamboyant outfits, large hats and hairless cat, Fluffy, who has not left the confines of Peck Gardens in ages. Lavinia calls on Josh Segal and Associates — the team that got off Owl Murderer Larry Henderson — to defend her after she was found with her husband, Edgar, stuffed into a suitcase in the back of her car.

And that sounds like a ridiculous amount of fun.

“I’m excited to slip into a role that feels very right for me at this time,” Chenoweth said in a statement. “Plus, I’m surrounded by genius comedic actors and brilliant writing. I admire John Lithgow so much and want to make him proud by continuing what he began.”

“We are delighted to have such a comedic powerhouse join our show,” said executive producer Jeff Astrof in a statement. “When we decided we were doing a murderess, we knew there could be only one person big enough to fill John Lithgow’s skates. She was our first choice all along and thankfully for us became available at the right time. Murdering and karaoke in East Peck will never be more fun.”

Chenoweth is known for her commanding presence on both stage and screen. As a Broadway star, the Oklahoma native received a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She was also nominated for both her iconic original role as Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked” and for playing Lily Garland/Mildred Plotka in “On the Twentieth Century.”

On television, Chenoweth earned an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Pushing Daisies” and received a nomination for her guest-starring role in “Glee.” She was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble for the Emmy-winning drama series “The West Wing.”

The premiere for the second season of “Trial & Error” will be announced at a later date.

Storm Reid stars in "A Wrinkle in Time." Disney photo

Storm Reid stars in “A Wrinkle in Time.” Disney photo

Partnership providing free tickets to ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ for underprivileged children

Color Of Change and the AMC Theatres chain are partnering to provide tickets to underprivileged children for screenings of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” opening in theaters March 9.

According to Variety, the tickets are being offered through the “Give A Child The Universe” initiative, which encourages individual and group benefactors to purchase and donate tickets to the movie. Using the donations, Color Of Change will distribute tickets to local partners, schools and community-based organizations for showings at AMC locations.

Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s acclaimed children’s book, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mindy Kaling, and Storm Reid as the teenage heroine, Meg.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, penned the adaptation of the 1962 sci-fi novel. As previously reported, Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma” and the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th,” was hired by Disney for the gig in early 2016, making her the first woman of color to helm a $100 million-budgeted movie.


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