WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: ‘Supergirl’ to soar onto the big screen, Gal Gadot joins ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet,’ SAG-AFTRA to offer workplace sexual harassment counseling

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Warner Bros and DC are developing a feature film based around Supergirl. DC Comics image

Warner Bros and DC are developing a feature film based around Supergirl. DC Comics image

Look! Up in the sky and on the big screen: Warner Bros and DC are developing a feature film based around Supergirl.

Deadline Hollywood reports that the similarly superpowered cousin of Superman, will finally get a chance at silver-screen redemption after her widely planned 1984 film starring Helen Slater.

The character, who debuted in 1959 in the comics, is soaring into its fourth season on the small screen, with the TV series “Supergirl” on The CW, starring Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El, who was teenager when she escaped the doomed planet Krypton along with her infant cousin, who grew up to be Superman.

As Mike Fleming Jr. reports on Deadline Hollywood, it isn’t clear whether Superman will appear in the new movie, but if the rumors are true that Warner Bros and DC Entertainment are looking to create a new template for future Superman movies, this would seem a likely place relaunch Superman, who has been played by Henry Cavill since 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Oren Uziel is working on the script, and Fleming predicts that the will probably search for a female director to helm the project. One can only hope.

A “Supergirl” feature film reflects a couple of changes in priorities in DC Extended Universe as executive Walter Hamada is now guiding the film part of that universe. One of them is embracing female superheroes, undoubtedly because of the commercial and critical success of Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster “Wonder Woman.” Along with Jenkins’ sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984,” Warner Bros. is working on a movie for “Batgirl” and has multiple projects percolating starring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in development, including Cathy Yan’s film based on the comic “Birds of Prey.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Richard Newby writes that a “Supergirl” movie “doesn’t just have the power to boost the cinematic power of DC’s leading women; it also has the potential to open up the world of Superman on film in a way that hasn’t been done before”:

“Supergirl also opens the door for other Superman supporting characters to be introduced and eventually receive their own films. Superboy, a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, seems like a ready-made conflict for Kara to encounter. Steel, an engineer who builds a metal suit and protects Metropolis’ inner city, and who was infamously the star of the 1997 Shaquille O’Neal dud, is another viable property Warner Bros. could tap into to give Metropolis just as much weight and points of interest as Gotham City. There’s also the added factor of Supergirl’s position as a teenager, which could create interesting superhero dynamics outside the Justice League as she encounters the Shazam family and Batman’s sidekicks, and it could perhaps pave the way for the Teen Titans or a similar equivalent. Supergirl could not only change the scope of DC’s film but pave the way for additional tonal avenues these films could take.”

As Fleming notes for Deadline, “Supergirl” likely represents a another shift in Warner Bros. approach regarding DC Comics movies: With the notable exception of “Wonder Woman,” too many films in the DCEU have been leaden, dark, and not that fun. Plus, they’ve been expensive — “Man of Steel,” “Batman Vs Superman” and “Justice League” carried around $800 million in production budgets to gross a collective $2.1 billion, according to reported budget estimates. Hamada guided many of New Line’s genre film hits before moving coming over to the DCEU when the entire DC brain trust was dismantled after the lackluster reception for “Justice League,” which grossed $615 million worldwide on a reported $300 million budget.

The next DC releases are “Aquaman” and “Shazam,” and from the looks of the trailers, significant effort has made to at least sell these films as more fun and less brooding. Apart from the previously mentioned femme-centric films planned, other planned DCEU installments include “The Joker,” the Todd Phillips-directed film that will star Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain, with Robert De Niro playing a talk show host who is a formative influence on the character; that film shoots in New York next month and debuts Oct. 4, 2019. “The Flash” starring Ezra Miller, with Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (“Game Night”) directing, starts production in February, and “War For The Planet of the Apes” helmer Matt Reeves is developing the next cinematic appearance of “Batman.”

Here’s hoping that Warner Bros. will give its new “Supergirl” film the necessary resources to soar as high as the character has deserved all along.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Gal Gadot joins ‘Wreck Ralph’ sequel voice cast

Speaking of “Wonder Woman,” the actor who plays the icon, Gal Gadot, has revealed that she is voicing the character Shank, a tough and talented driver in an intense and gritty online racing game called “Slaughter Race,” in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which hits theaters this Thanksgiving.

“Shank is amazing at driving cars and has this bad-girl vibe to her. But as the movie goes on you realize how fun, wise and warm she really is on the inside, which is what I like most about her,” Gadot said in a statement.

In the sequel to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) encounter Shank and her unusual cohorts when they venture to the internet in search of a replacement part for Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush.” Shank, a tough-as-nails street racer, takes her role and her tricked-out car very seriously and doesn’t like to lose. When Vanellope finds herself in a street race with Shank, her “Sugar Rush” driving skills are put to the test—and Shank is impressed.

“She is the coolest character in this world of Slaughter Race,” said director Rich Moore in a statement. “Shank’s lived a lot, she’s seen a lot, yet she’s got nothing but kindness in her heart—that’s the duality of that character.”

According to director/writer Phil Johnston, Gadot adds extraordinary dimension to the character. Shank’s approach to racing—and life in general—opens Vanellope’s eyes to the limitless possibilities of the internet and the excitement of a new world that feels like home to her.

“There’s so much texture to her voice and so much living in her voice,” he said in a statement. “If Ralph is Vanellope’s big-brother figure, we wanted a big-sister figure. We wanted someone that Vanellope would look up to, and Gal is definitely someone kids—and a lot of adults I know—aspire to emulate. I can’t imagine anyone else embodying that part.”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 21.

Gabrielle Carteris is president of SAG-AFTRA. Courtesy photo

Gabrielle Carteris is president of SAG-AFTRA. Courtesy photo

SAG-AFTRA to offer workplace sexual harassment counseling

SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation have announced they are jointly working together to bring workplace sexual harassment counseling services for members of the union.

Now available, the services are administered by trained counselors at The Actors Fund, a national human services organization for entertainment, media and performing arts professionals, according to a news release.

“SAG-AFTRA is proud to introduce this important service to our members. While our existing Safer Set hotline assures workplace safety issues are addressed, it has become imperative that we make available counseling to our members who have or are experiencing workplace harassment,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement. “We are grateful to partner with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation as well as The Actors Fund and their team of professional counselors to meet this need. In addition to enhancing the union’s capacity to process workplace harassment reports in recent months, being able to offer counseling to our members is one more step in our ongoing efforts to address the sexual harassment epidemic in our industry.”

The confidential, supportive services for SAG-AFTRA members impacted by workplace sexual harassment include assessment, crisis and short-term supportive counseling, education on individual rights and legal avenues, referrals to related resources and when needed, referrals for other clinical services.

“For more than 30 years, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has been providing a vital safety net to SAG-AFTRA professionals who have fallen on hard times, been impacted by natural disasters, or been hit with unexpected illness or injury. This past year has been a reckoning for sexual harassment abuses in our industry. Our three organizations have come together to ensure that workplaces and working environments in this industry will be safe and secure. No SAG-AFTRA performer should ever feel alone or without recourse when it comes to sexual harassment or assault. We want all SAG-AFTRA professionals to know that they are not alone in this business,” said SAG-AFTRA Foundation President JoBeth Williams in a statement

The service is open to all SAG-AFTRA members and is available nationally by phone, as well as in person at The Actors Fund’s offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.

“Throughout our history, The Actors Fund has always responded quickly to the needs of our community. In the past year, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought issues of sexual harassment and assault to the forefront of the performing arts and entertainment industry. We’re proud to partner with SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation to provide counseling services to people who have been subjected to sexual harassment or assault, and we will continue our outreach so that everyone in our industry knows that these services are available to them,” said The Actors Fund Chief Operating Officer Barbara Davis in a statement.

To access services over the phone or in person, SAG-AFTRA members can contact The Actors Fund regional office nearest them in Los Angeles, (323) 933-9244, ext. 455; New York City (212) 221-7300, ext. 119; or Chicago (312) 372-0989.

-BAM

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