Monday, June 20, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Fairytales with a twist

Fredric March and Janet Gaynor in "A Star Is Born," 1937.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

MONDAY'S MASH: Is Lady Gaga Ready to be "Born" With Bradley Cooper? ... Dance, Ryan Gosling, Dance! ... "Wicked" Finally Makes it to the Movies ... and How is "Rosaline" different from other fairytale heroines? (Hint: Prince Charming Has No Chance With Her.)

“WHAT’S BEEN
done by others won’t decide who I will be!”

That’s Rosaline, the heroine of a new, four-minute animated fairytale, which can be seen on Hulu. This is, of course, a fairytale with a twist, Rosaline (voiced by Teri Polo) is gay, and rejects all the usual stereotypes — she avoids the big bad wolf, outsmarts a wicked witch and her dubious apple, and doesn’t pay much attention to her fairy godmother who wants to set her up — naturally — with a prince charming.
Although this might seem revolutionary, the classic damsel in distress trope has faded increasingly from big-budget Disney/Pixar cartoon tales such as “Brave,” “Tangled” and “Frozen” although none of those ladies were, well, lady-lovers. Simply independent and not given to pining away over any guy with a toothpaste grin and a promise of happily-ever-after.
The director of “Rosaline” is Daniel Errico, who also created another Hulu cartoon last year, “The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived.” He was not only brave, he liked other knights.

Surely, Mr. Errico is looking to branch out, and hula away from Hulu and onto the Disney studio soundstages. Why not? (He’s also looking into big-time publishers for big-time books.)
REMEMBER WHEN everything was set — sort of — for Bradley Cooper and Beyonce to star in yet another big-screen version of “A Star is Born?” Well, that fell apart. Now it’s coming together again — sort of.

Bradley Cooper is still attached and interested in playing the substance-abusing on-the-verge-of-fading star who discovers and falls in love with a young singer. Soon he is driven to despair as he watches his beloved rise as he falls. So, who is the star destined to be born? Who will follow in the footsteps of Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand — and Constance Bennett, if you count the source material of “What Price Hollywood?
Now “they” say it’s Lady Gaga. Bradley and Lady G. were spotted together the other day, in Hollywood, not running away from photographers. No romance, strictly business. The business of resurrecting “Star.”

Gaga isn’t much of an actress, at least not based on her “American Horror Story” role. But film is a director and editor’s medium. Depending on how a movie is cut, performances can be altered, for good or ill.
However, she is a fabulous singer and musician and the combo of Gaga and the popular Bradley Cooper sure sounds like a money-making idea. (Yes, money — why do you keeping saying it’s all art for art’s sake. Grow up, as the late Joan Rivers would have barked.) I wonder, though, where this leaves Gaga and Barbra Streisand’s “Gypsy?” Gaga was reportedly “practically” signed to play the fabled ecdysiast, to Barbra’s Mama Rose.

Never mind, it’s still all talk. Interesting talk, but nobody’s put their name on a dotted line yet, or asked for ten percent of the gross off the top.
SPEAKING OF big stars and musicals, I just love the one photo I have seen of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing in the upcoming movie “La La Land.” That picture alone makes me want to see it! Directed by Damien Chazelle, it’s about a jazz musician (Gosling) and an actress (Stone) who fall in love but suffer as both their careers rise.

“La La Land” opened the Venice Film Festival last Friday.
AFTER 13 years as one of Broadway’s biggest hits — and still going strong! — “Wicked” finally arrives on the big screen ... in 2019. Stephen Daldry will direct for Universal.
This is good news, but don’t get your hopes up for “Hamilton” anytime soon. The creator and star of that phenomenon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, insists that the show “might become a movie — in twenty years!”

Hmmm ... the way things are going politically, 20 years from now people might not even know who Alexander Hamilton was, or understand the precepts of real American democracy. Think about it, Mr. Miranda.
ENDQUOTE: “I love it. I will never retire from rock & roll. Rock & roll will have to retire me!” That’s what the great Ronnie Spector told David Browne for Rolling Stone recently. Ronnie has a new album, “English Heart” (released in April) on which she covers some of the big hits from some of Britain’s top artists of the '60s — The Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Kinks, the Bee Gees and the Rolling Stones. Reviews have been mixed, primarily because Ronnie gives these songs a more mellow interpretation, and doesn’t fully let loose with her still-powerful pipes.
I love Ronnie, as the hot lead singer of The Ronettes, as a survivor of marriage to Phil Spector (yes, he managed her famous sound and “made” her a star, but then kept her virtually a prisoner in the house and away from her music) and as a writer. Ronnie’s autobiography — “How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness, Or My Life as A Fabulous Ronette” — was a particularly good example of the genre; revealing, sad and funny.
Ronnie says that after all the years of confinement with Phil, she still loves to do ordinary things, like cooking and going to Shop/Rite. She also takes care to “look nice in case someone says, ‘Can I take your picture?’ I get a little bouffant going and put on some lipstick. I try to look like ‘Ronnie’.”

A “little bouffant?” Oh, no, honey. That won’t do. Be my baby and wear three falls, teased and taunted to the max, secured with three cans of toxic hairspray. And don't forget a liberal application of that iconic liquid eyeliner!

Contact Liz here.