THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: Judi Dench to receive Kirk Douglas Award, Diane Kruger to produce and star in Hedy Lamarr miniseries, Linda Hamilton to return to ‘Terminator’ franchise

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Judi Dench appears in a scene from the new movie "Victoria and Abdul." Focus Features photo

Judi Dench appears in a scene from the new movie “Victoria and Abdul.” Focus Features photo

Dame Judi Dench has been designated this year’s recipient of the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, presented annually by the Santa Barbara (California) International Film Festival, reports Deadline Hollywood.

The Oscar winner, who will turn 83 on Dec. 9, will receive the honor Nov. 30 at a black-tie dinner at Bacara Resort & Spa.

The Douglas award has been presented since 2006, and past honorees include Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, Quentin Tarantino John Travolta and last year’s recipient, Warren Beatty.

“I am especially delighted to learn that Dame Judi Dench will accept the award that bears my name,” said Douglas, who shares Dench’s Dec. 9 birthday, and will turn 101 this year.

“She is a consummate artist of stage and screen who is a particular favorite of mine. I wish I could have had the joy of working with her, but I am happy for the pleasure of seeing my name coupled with hers in support of the Santa Barbara Film Festival.”

Dench won her Oscar in 1999 for her supporting role as Queen Elizabeth in “Shakespeare In Love.” She has been nominated a total of seven times: for lead actress in “Mrs. Brown” (1997), “Iris” (2001), “Mrs. Henderson Presents” (2005), “Notes On A Scandal” (2006) and “Philomena” (2013), as well for best supporting actress in “Chocolat” (2000).

She has also won an impressive 11 BAFTA awards out of 26 nominations, as well as two Golden Globe awards, among many other career honors. She also has become well known for playing M in no fewer than seven James Bond films from “Goldeneye” through “Skyfall.”

The Douglas award celebration at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival often viewed as a precursor of awards season glory, and Dench is once again in the mix: Twenty years after playing the monarch in “Mrs. Brown,” she reprises her portrayal as Queen Victoria in “Victoria & Abdul,” which opened Friday, and she will appear in Kenneth Branagh’s  star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express,” due in theaters Nov. 10.

Diane Kruger appears in her Cannes Film Festival award-winning film "In the Fade." Magnolia Pictures photo

Diane Kruger appears in her Cannes Film Festival award-winning film “In the Fade.” Magnolia Pictures photo

Diane Kruger to produce and star in Hedy Lamarr miniseries

Diane Kruger (“Inglorious Basterds,” the “National Treasure” movies) is teaming with Straight Up Films to tell the remarkable story of silver screen legend and communications technology pioneer  Hedy Lamarr.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kruger is producing with the intent to star in what is planned to be a TV miniseries adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes book “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”

Google and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are also collaborating on the development of the project.

The Austrian actress lit up American cinema in the late 1930s and 1940s, starring in “Comrade X” with Clark Gable, “Tortilla Flat” with Spencer Tracy and “Samson & Deiliah” with Victor Mature.

She first married when she was 18, to a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer with ties to both governments in Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. While her husband ruled their marriage with an iron fist, he introduced her to scientists working in the military, sparking her latent curiosity so that she worked on inventions in her off-hours even when she made her way to America.

During World War II, while under contract with MGM, Lamarr and a friend invented a frequency-hopping radio signal that they patented. They approached the military, who at the time turned them away. It was only a generation later that the military began looking at it and using it. The technology, called Spread Spectrum Technology, now underpins Bluetooth and WiFi use.

Her technological contribution wasn’t recognized until late in life, and in 2014 she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“I am fascinated by Hedy Lamarr,” said Kruger in a statement. “She was a smart, witty, visionary inventor, way ahead of her time, who also happened to be a major movie star. I cannot wait to tell her story to make sure her legacy will live on forever and inspire others.”

As previously reported, this isn’t the first project celebrating Lamarr’s fascinating life and accomplishments. Executive produced by Susan Sarandon, the documentary “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won a best of the fest prize at the Nantucket Film Festival. It was directed by Alexandra Dean and produced by Adam Haggiag and will open at the IFC Center in New York on Nov. 24, followed by a nationwide rollout.

A Germanynative, Kruger picked up the rights to Rhodes’ book and will produce with Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Sandra Condito of Straight Up Films, which boasts “Jane Got a Gun” and “Transcendence” among its credits. Abi Harris and Jason Weinberg of Untitled Entertainment will also produce, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Gene Kelly and Rose Ganguzza will executive produce with the collaboration of Rhodes and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, an organization focused on science and technology that been celebrating Lamarr, giving Rhodes a book grant, a production grant for “Bombshell” and will support Kruger with a screenwriting development grant.

Kruger, who won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year for the German-language drama “In the Fade,” recently wrapped writer-director Justin Kelly’s “JT Leroy” opposite Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern. According to IMDB, she is now working on Robert Zemeckis’ drama “The Women of Marwen,” alongside Eiza González, Gwendoline Christie, Janelle Monáe and Steve Carell for Universal.

Linda Hamilton appears in 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Tristar Pictures photo

Linda Hamilton appears in 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” TriStar Pictures photo

Linda Hamilton returns to ‘Terminator’ franchise

She’ll be back.

After more than 25 years after departing the “Terminator” franchise, Linda Hamilton is returning to her iconic role of Sarah Connor and the near-future war against the machines of Skynet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hamilton will reunite with James Cameron, the creator of the sci-fi franchise, for the new installment being made by Skydance and Paramount.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cameron made the announcement at a private event celebrating the blockbuster franchise, saying, “As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return.”

With Hamilton’s return, Cameron said he hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies.

“There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys,” he said, referring to aging male actors still anchoring movies, “but there isn’t an example of that for women.”

Tim Miller, the filmmaker who broke out with 2016’s “Deadpool,” is directing the sequel, which is returning to its roots by having Cameron involved for the first time since 1991’s groundbreaking “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger is already set to return, and with Cameron and now Hamilton on board, the new “Terminator” film will once again have its original creative team. Cameron is producing along with Skydance, and the new film is based on a story crafted by Cameron.

The long-running franchised launched in 1984 with “The Terminator,” with Schwarzenegger playing the title character, a robotic killing machine sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate Hamilton’s mild-mannered waitress Sarah Connor, whose unborn son is destined to lead the human resistance in the future war against the artificially intelligent machines of Skynet.

In the 1991 sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” Hamilton’s Sarah Connor has transformed herself into a buff, hard-bitten warrior determined to protect her now-teenage son John (Edward Furlong) and prepare him for war. When a more advanced killing machine (Robert Patrick) is dispatched to destroy John, the Connors get unexpected help from a reprogrammed Terminator, again played by Schwarzenegger.

After the massive hit “Judgment Day,” both Hamilton and Cameron, who were married to each other in the later 1990s, sat out the “Terminator” installments that followed in 2003, 2009 and 2015.

Although story details are being kept secret, The Hollywood Reporter says that Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to “Judgment Day,” with the themes of the potential evils of technology once again at the forefront.

But the new movie also will pass the baton to a new generation of characters.

“We’re starting a search for an 18-something woman to be the new centerpiece of the new story,” Cameron said. “We still fold time. We will have characters from the future and the present. There will be mostly new characters, but we’ll have Arnold and Linda’s characters to anchor it.”

Of course, the news of the return of such an iconic female action hero as Sarah Connor and the promise of a new woman warrior would be much more exciting if it weren’t for Cameron’s recent bonehead comments belittling Patty Jenkins’ smash cinematic depiction of Wonder Woman as “an objectified icon” that he considers “a step backwards” from Sarah Connor. As previously noted, these comments reveal Cameron’s inability to view a female action hero as permitted to have any defining characteristic other than “strong,” and only that is achievable by utterly rejecting her femininity and wholly embracing masculinity.

Still, Sarah Conner was a cinematic hero that had a great impact on me as a young film fan, so I can’t help but look forward to her return.


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