AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, November 6, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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The Super Bowl for women will be hosted by men, what’s so mysterious about women, and more.

TWO WHITE GUYS WALK INTO THE OSCARS… The debate was shortlived: Hugh Jackman had declined to host the Oscars again next March, so who would take over the job? It was only a few days later that the announcement came: the cohosts of the 2010 telecast would be Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

My first thought was, Alec Baldwin should kiss Tina Fey’s feet for making him cool again via ‘30 Rock.’ And then I thought, Hey, why isn’t Tina Fey cohosting with either Baldwin or Martin… or even on her own?

Seems I’m not the only industry watcher to whom this occurred. Nicole Sperling intereviewed Oscar director/choreographer Adam Shankman at Hollywood Insider, and she asked the same thing:

We’ve also heard you guys went to Tina Fey and Steve Martin together and Tina said no. Is that true?

Once again, it was a really quick discussion and it was mostly about “do you think that could work?”‘ It wasn’t that she turned us down but her work schedule right in that time, she’s writing the last of her shows, and we realized then that it wouldn’t work. But they were so great on the show together (the Oscars last year) and he’d done 30 Rock. Once again there were lots of discussions in there.

So, it was never really a serious consideration to get Fey onboard, then? What about another woman as a cohost for either Martin or Baldwin?

Are you worried at all that the critics will find fault with you choosing two white males? That you’re not deviating from the norm at all?

Believe me, I’m the guy who made Hairspray so there shouldn’t be any question about what I want to do. There will be all sorts of people of multiple ethnicities that will be involved in meaningful ways in the show. This just happened to be a funny pairing. There was no consideration past the comedic possibilities. There will certainly be a multi-racial presence at the show. Remember, also, I made Bringing Down the House, which was also a slam on racism. There’s been a constant theme in my work to be against racism.

“There will be all sorts of people of multiple ethnicities that will be involved in meaningful ways in the show.” But not as host — not as the headliner. But if Shankman wants to bring up his cartonishly racist flick Bringing Down the House as an example of what he wants to do, why not give us Martin and Queen Latifah as cohosts? Their pairing in House was the only good thing about the film: they’ve got fantastic comedic chemistry. Was Latifah considered?

I have no doubt that Martin and Baldwin will be highly amusing together and separately in their hosting duties. But though there have a few women, a few nonwhites, and even a couple nonwhite women as Oscar host, the history of the job is overwhemlingly white and male. It’s hard to imagine that there weren’t other popular, talented entertainers who were available and interested in the job, and who aren’t white and male. No?

WHAT’S SO MYSTERIOUS ABOUT WOMEN? Sebastian Gutierrez’s low-budget indie Women in Trouble opens next week, and he discussed the project with The Los Angeles Times:

It’s nothing new that women don’t get to do much in Hollywood. They usually get stuck playing the girlfriend, so they can be the good girlfriend or the bad girlfriend and that’s the extent of it. And I don’t know any women like that, the women that I know are smart and sexy, confident and confused, just full of contradictions…

Which sounds great! A man who gets that women are human! He’s making a movie about women as people! Hoorah!

And then he shows that he doesn’t get it at all, when he concludes:

…which is why they are interesting and mysterious.

Interesting? Sure. But mysterious? Mysterious? Didn’t you just explain, Gutierrez, how women are not “mysterious”? Are men “mysterious” when they are smart, sexy, confident, confused, and full of contradictions? Or are they just, you know, people?

Does it make men feel better to think that women are “mysterious”? Or is it just a copout for when they don’t want to bother even attempting to see women as people?

LIAR, LIAR, LIBEL ON FIRE. Kate Winslet has won a libel suit against the British newspaper The Daily Mail, which had made her look like a hypocrite regarding her very public stance on women’s body issues. According to People magazine:

In January, Winslet told reporters she was going “easy” on herself and not exercising at all during the hectic awards season.

The Mail subsequently “reported” that she was lying about that, and that she was, in fact, exercising.

It seems like such a little thing, and hardly worth suing over, but Winslet makes an excellent point, in a written statement quoted in People:

I strongly believe that women should be encouraged to accept themselves as they are, so to suggest that I was lying was an unacceptable accusation of hypocrisy… I am delighted that the Mail have apologized for making false allegations about me. I was particularly upset to be accused of lying about my exercise regime, and felt that I had a responsibility to request an apology in order to demonstrate my commitment to the views that I have always expressed about body issues, including diet and exercise.

Good for her.

OPENING THIS WEEK. Women are all but absent from Disney’s A Christmas Carol and The Men Who Stare at Goats, but they’re headlining the thrillers The Box and The Fourth Kind. In fact, you’d never guess that The Box’s male star, James Marsden, shares equal screen time with Cameron Diaz, because he’s been left off the film’s poster entirely. (That’s too bad for Marsden, but it’s a fate that many a female costar has suffered over the years.)

On the indie side, the much-buzzed Precious debuts — the story of a horrifically abused Harlem teenager who finds the strength to reclaim her life is a tale the likes of which we don’t often see.

(The AWFJ’s regular rundown on the week’s new releases is here.)

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).