WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: Mimi Leder directing new Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston series, Geneva Robertson-Dworet to adapt novel ‘Artemis’ for film, Disney empowering young female filmmakers with global #DreamBigPrincess video series

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Director Mimi Leder and camera operator Chris Cuevas appear on the set of "The Leftovers." HBO photo

Director Mimi Leder and camera operator Chris Cuevas appear on the set of “The Leftovers.” HBO photo

Mimi Leder is joining Apple’s as-yet-untitled morning show drama series as executive producer and director, according to Deadline Hollywood.

The two-time Primetime Emmy Award winner rounds out an all-female core creative team on the Media Res-produced series, which includes executive producers and stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston and writer, executive producer and showrunner Kerry Ehrin.

Based on an original idea by Media Res’ Michael Ellenberg, the series will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges of the women (and men) who carry out the daily televised ritual.

Ehrin and Leder will executive produce alongside Aniston through her Echo Films banner; Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter through Hello Sunshine; and Ellenberg through Media Res. Brian Stelter consults on the project, with his book “Top of the Morning” providing background material.

Working in both television and film, Leder has long flown the flag for female directors. For 22 years, until last fall, she was the last woman to win an Emmy Award for directing in a drama series, which she did in 1995 for “ER.” Leder, whose directing credits on the TV side also include “The Leftovers” and “Shameless,” has landed the most Emmy nominations for a female director in the category with five. She is one of only three women to win it best director for a drama series, along with Karen Arthur for “Cagney & Lacey” in 1985 and Reed Morano for “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 2017.

On the feature film side, Leder was one of the first female directors to be given the reins of a big-budget summer blockbuster with 1998’s “Deep Impact,” which at the time became the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman. She is currently in post-production on the feature “On the Basis of Sex,” which will be released in December from Participant Media and Focus Features.

The 2017 science fiction novel "Artemis," by Andy Weir, is being adapted into a feature film. Book cover art via Crown Publishing Group

The 2017 science fiction novel “Artemis,” by Andy Weir, is being adapted into a feature film. Book cover art via Crown Publishing Group

‘Captain Marvel’ writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet to adapt ‘Artemis’

“Captain Marvel” screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet has been hired to adapt the movie version of Andy Weir’s science-fiction novel “Artemis.”

Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing, while Simon Kinberg and Aditya Sood are producing the Fox and New Regency project. Steve Asbell is overseeing the movie for the studio, according to Variety.

“Artemis,” the follow-up novel by “The Martian” author, “Artemis” is a heist thriller set on the Moon. It takes place in the late 2080s in Artemis, the first and only lunar city.

The story centers on small-time smuggler Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara with debts to pay and a paycheck that barely covers her rent. When she can’t resist the chance to go after a huge score, she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.

Along with Marvel Studios’ hotly anticipated “Captain Marvel,” Robertson-Dworet recently wrote the MGM reboot of “Tomb Raider,” and she is also working on Sony’s “Spider-Man” spinoff “Silver & Black.”

Jennifer Lee. Courtesy photo

Jennifer Lee. Courtesy photo

Disney empowering young female filmmakers with global #DreamBigPrincess video series

Disney has announced a new global project giving 21 talented young women from different corners of the globe the chance to make digital shorts telling the stories of inspiring female role models.

The #DreamBigPrincess series will be shared across Disney’s global media platforms as part of a campaign to unlock up to a $1 million donation to Girl Up, an initiative of the UN Foundation, according to a news release.

Each aspiring filmmaker will be paired with an inspirational interview subject spanning a diverse range of professions. The young women will capture the stories of these incredible individuals, along with their advice for achieving success.

Academy Award winner Jennifer Lee (“Frozen,” “Zootopia”), who was recently named chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, is one of the talented women who will be featured in the series.

“Using the journeys of characters like Anna, Elsa and Moana to inspire kids to dream big is at the very heart of what all of us at Disney do,” Lee said in a statement. “The #DreamBigPrincess series is the perfect extension of that vision, providing a powerful platform for the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to create content about the women who have inspired them.”

Plans for the series were unveiled at the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., where the 21 participants took part in a unique workshop to give them the tools they can use to make their digital shorts.

Each video will be shot on iPhone X and will be edited using Final Cut Pro X running on MacBook Pro. The aspiring filmmakers also will participate in a unique workshop including hands-on training from Apple technical experts, mentoring sessions with female-led production company Summerjax and creative inspiration from Disney storytelling veterans.

Following the workshop, the young women will embark on their own creative journeys back in their home countries, with ongoing mentorship from Disney, Apple and Summerjax. Their videos will debut across certain social media in October, helping drive an up to $1 million donation from Disney Worldwide Services to Girl Up.

“Each young #DreamBigPrincess director brings her own unique perspective and experience but what they all share is a passion for storytelling and making a difference in the world,” said Zenia Mucha, Senior Executive Vice President of Communications for The Walt Disney Company, in a statement. “Our goal is to offer them the right mix of practical skills and creative inspiration to bring their vision to life.”

In addition to supporting young aspiring filmmakers and sharing inspiring stories around the world, the #DreamBigPrincess campaign aims to make a tangible difference for girls who face challenges in achieving their dreams. Through Disney’s collaboration with Girl Up, for each like or share of a video or photo with #DreamBigPrincess on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Disney Worldwide Services will donate US $1 to Girl Up, in support of girls’ leadership and empowerment.

The charitable effort will kick off on Oct. 10 and run until Nov. 20.

“The resources provided by Disney to empower girls and help them learn about the importance of storytelling will give them the confidence they need to achieve their own goals and advocate for others,” said Girl Up Co- Executive Director Melissa Kilby in a statement.

“Last year’s donation from Disney has already allowed us to extend the network of Girl Up Clubs outside the US by more than 50 percent, representing a huge opportunity for thousands of girls to gain the leadership skills that will help achieve future goals.”

This year’s initiative builds on the success of the #DreamBigPrincess Global Photography series, which saw 19 female photographers from 15 countries capture inspiring stories of real world women and girls to encourage kids to reach for their goals. The precedent-setting campaign reached millions of families around the world, unlocking a $1 million donation to Girl Up in less than five days. The images from the multi-award-winning campaign also were honored with an exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

To watch the #DreamBigPrincess video series launch video featuring Lee, go to https://youtu.be/w4VlJC8EOZU.


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