THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: RIP Mary Tyler Moore; Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Lily Tomlin honored; Kristin Chenoweth praises ‘Lion’

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Mary Tyler Moore appears on the "Mary Tyler Moore Store." CBS photo

Mary Tyler Moore appears on the “Mary Tyler Moore Store.” CBS photo

RIP Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore, whose iconic CBS comedy series “Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77) forever changed television and how women were presented in the workplace, died Tuesday. She was 80.

As I reported on my BAM’s Blog, the Emmy Award winner also starred in such series as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-66); “The Mary Tyler Moore Hour” (1979); “Mary” (1985-86); and “New York News” (1995).

The influential TV icon forged a 50-plus-year career that spanned award-winning films, groundbreaking television series and Broadway shows.

Moore started her career in 1955 as a dancer in commercials airing during “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and soon transitioned into acting, landing a role on “Richard Diamond, Private Detective.” Her career took off when she was cast as Dick Van Dyke’s wife Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

During her long career, she won seven Emmy awards and was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of a wealthy mother whose son is accidentally killed in 1980’s “Ordinary People.”

Moore also used her star power to raise awareness of type I diabetes. Her personal experience of living with the disease prepared her for the role she filled as the international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Moore was also an advocate for animal rights, supporting the fight to end animal euthanasia.

She named SAG-AFTRA’s 48th Life Achievement recipient and accepted the honor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2012.

“Mary was a television legend, but more than that, in her most iconic role she was both an agent of change as well as a reflection of our changing society. At a time when independence for women was not the social norm, both the fictional Mary and the real-life Mary set an example, showing that women could take control of their lives and their careers,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “She will be dearly missed.”

To mark her passing, the documentary “Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration” is currently streaming on and on member station websites here.

Hasty Pudding Theatricals honors Octavia Spencer

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, welcomed Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer (who was nominated for a second Oscar last week for “Hidden Figures”), Thursday to Harvard University, where she received her Woman of the Year award.

The Woman of the Year is the Hasty Pudding Theatricals oldest honor, bestowed annually on performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment, according to a news release. Established in 1951, Woman of the Year has been given to many notable and talented entertainers, including Meryl Streep, Debbie Reynolds, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Dame Helen Mirren, and most recently Kerry Washington. Spencer paid homage to previous winner Mary Tyler Moore as she accepted the honor.

The Woman of the Year festivities began with a parade through the streets of Cambridge. Following the parade, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals hosted a celebratory roast for the actress at Farkas Hall, the Hasty Pudding’s historic home in the heart of Harvard Square since 1888. Before she was able to receive her pot, Ms. Spencer had to work her way off the “naughty list”, which she was placed on due to her roles in the “Bad Santa” movies.

First, she referenced her infamous pie scene from “The Help” by choosing one of three people to pie in the face. Her choice was a Hasty Pudding member dressed as Presidential Counselor, Kellyanne Conway. She also proved her fealty to her alma mater, Auburn University, by tackling an archrival, University of Alabama fan onstage. Due to her fondness for pink nail polish, she was charged with giving another cast member a makeover with an oversize tube of nail polish. Finally, she rounded out her roast by singing a duet of James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” in reference to her role in “Get on Up.”

The Hasty Pudding award will be a nice side dish to go along with “Hidden Figures” win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture – the equivalent of best picture – at Sunday’s 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Viola Davis sets SAG Awards record

Viola Davis managed to set two records in the course of a week with her win Sunday night at the SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for “Fences.” As Essence reports, Davis became the first black actress to receive five SAG Awards with the win.

Davis previously earned two Actors prizes on the TV side, winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 2015 and 2016 for “How to Get Away with Murder.” In 2012, she garnered two Actors for the hit movie “The Help,” winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and sharing in the film’s Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture prize.

As previously reported, Davis on Tuesday became the first black actress to have scored three Academy Award nominations with her new nod for “Fences.” She was previously Oscar nominated in 2009 for her performance in “Doubt” and again in 2012 for “The Help.”

Lily Tomlin, right, and Julia Garner appear in "Grandma." Sony Pictures Classics photo

Lily Tomlin, right, and Julia Garner appear in “Grandma.” Sony Pictures Classics photo

Lily Tomlin offers humor and advice in SAG Awards speech

Speaking of the SAG Awards, as previously reported, Lily Tomlin received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday’s ceremony. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she delivered lots of advice and laughs in her speech, which, not surprisingly, occasionally included punch lines referencing President Donald Trump.

“Live your life so that when you are being honored for your achievements, the people called upon to make laudatory comments can feel reasonably honest about their comments. Otherwise, in these times, all their words of phrase might be perceived as ‘alternative facts,’ or worst yet, ‘fake news,'” Tomlin said, using Trump’s terms.

Tomlin’s “9 to 5” co-star Dolly Parton presented the honor to the “Grace and Frankie actress,” who also was nominated for best actress in a TV comedy at this year’s SAG Awards. Although she didn’t win, Tomlin becomes the first SAG Lifetime Achievement Award honoree to also compete in a category, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Lily is receiving an award I’ve spent my whole life trying to avoid — ‘sag’ award?” joked Parton, who was initially set to present the award alongside Jane Fonda, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Parton praised Tomlin, noting, “She goes right up to the line and then she just races right over it, and that’s why actors and audiences love her.”

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists honored Lily with the 2015 EDA Award for Actress Defying Age and Ageism. Plus, Elle Reid, the character she played in 2016’s “Grandma,” made it on our 55 Best Fictional Female Characters list.

To read more about the SAG Awards winners, click here.

Emmy- and Tony- winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth. Photo provided

Emmy- and Tony- winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth. Photo provided

Kristin Chenoweth praises ‘Lion’s’ handling of adoption

Emmy and Tony Award winner (and fellow Oklahoma native) Kristin Chenoweth, who is adopted, has written a heartfelt essay for the Huffington Post praising the Oscar-nominated film “Lion,” noting that “nothing has quite captured the truth, both the good and the ugly, of adoption like the film.”

Directed by Garth Davis (in his feature debut) and written by Luke Davies, “Lion” is based on the memoir “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley. It tells the true story of Brierly, who at age 5 got lost on a train in his native India and wound up on the streets of Calcutta before he was ultimately adopted by an Australian couple. As an adult, he uses Google Earth to find his birthplace.

As previously reported, the film is nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor for Dev Patel, best supporting actress for Nicole Kidman, best adapted screenplay for Davies, best cinematography and best original score.

“Without getting on a soapbox, the film stands up to some commonly held misperceptions about adoption, the stigma many families deal with and supports the often life changing impact it can have,” Chenoweth writes in her Huff Po essay. “When it comes down to it, ‘Lion’ is a story of love and family, and the idea that we are shaped by both our environment and our DNA.”

Kerry Washington encourages courage at Sundance Film Festival

Kerry Washington last week spoke to a group of women at the Sundance Film Festival’s annual Women in Film Brunch, telling them that progress for women and people of color in the movie business is going to take “courage on all of our parts,” according to the New York Daily News.

“Sometimes the people who are in charge of those rooms, they want us to feel lucky to be in the room. And we are because we’re all really blessed to be doing what we do … but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get to bring other people with me,” Washington said. “Being alone in the room is exhausting … you feel like you have to stand up for the entire gender or race.”

Washington declared that it’s not a risk to make movies for and about women and people of color. (As previously reported, that’s something that “Hidden Figures” has proved in its successful box-office run.)

“Why do we allow this myth of risk to remain?” she asked. “And if it doesn’t work, who cares? So many movies don’t work.”


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