Florence Foster Jenkins didn’t make many recordings, but they had to be heard to be believed: “We heard them at drama school, when I was a student,” said Meryl Streep. “Yeah, it was pretty specifically great!” Streep plays Lady Florence, as she liked to be called, in the new film, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” about the amateur soprano often called the world’s worst opera singer. “Most of her notes,” as one critic put it, “were promissory.” Mason said, “So many of the great singers of her time are not remembered, but she is.” “Well, that’s a tragedy, actually!” Streep laughed. By the late 1930s, Florence’s performances were notorious. Mystifyingly, the society pages indulged her with glowing notices. “Madame Jenkins’ annual recitals,” the New York Daily Mirror wrote, “bring unbounded joy to the faded souls of Park Avenue and the musical elite.” Composer Cole Porter was a fan. And astonishingly, at the peak of her notoriety in 1944, Florence took the stage at Carnegie Hall and performed to a sold-out house. The full segment can be watched in the video archive with screencaptures being added to the photo gallery.
That’s not a good month for Meryl Streep’s former film directors. A week after the passing of Michael Cimino, Argentine-born Brazilian director Hector Babenco has died. He was 70. In 1985, he was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for “Kiss of the Spider Woman”. The film, starring Meryl’s former co-star, the late Raul Julia, was also nominated for best picture and William Hurt won the Best Actor Oscar. In 1988, Babenco directed “Ironweed” with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, who were nominated for best actor and actress Oscars. A great article on the making of “Ironweed” can be found in the magazines archive.
Yesterday, Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg have attended the New York press conference for “Florence Foster Jenkins”. The film, which has had a successful run in the United Kingdom back in May, will premiere in US theaters this August. Besides a couple of pictures, a full video from the press conference has been added as well. The video can be watched here. Also, a video transcript of the DGA Theater Q&A for “Florence Foster Jenkins” with Meryl Streep and William Ivey Long has been added as well. Edit: Pictures from the New York Screening and Q&A have been added, with many thanks to JustJared.
Michael Cimino, the Oscar-winning director of The Deer Hunter as well as the infamous Heaven’s Gate, has died, the New York Times confirmed. He was 77. News of Cimino’s death was first reported by Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux on Twitter. “Michael Cimino died peacefully surrounded by his family and the two women who loved him,” Fremaux wrote, in French, on the social media platform. “We loved him too.” Cimino directed seven feature films over the course of his career, though the New York-born filmmaker got his start on TV spots for United Airlines, Pepsi, and other companies. After moving to Los Angeles, he wrote the screenplay for Magnum Force, for which he caught the eye of Clint Eastwood. Cimino later went on to helm Deer Hunter in 1978, starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale, and John Savage. The film, about friends who are tore apart by the Vietnam War, scored nine total Oscar nominations and won five: best picture, best director for Cimino, best supporting actor for Walken, best sound, and best film editing.
I’ve spent the week without an iternet connection, so most plans for “The Devil Wears Prada” related updates fell flat. But, as Miranda Priestly would have said, “Details of your incompetence do not interest me”. So, a nice btch of additional production stills and promotionals from the film have been added to the photo Gallery. Many thanks to Marci for helping me with this one.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, her mother and daughters Sasha and Malia were joined by Meryl Streep in Morocco’s Marrakesh on Tuesday on a six-day tour to try to promote girls’ education. More than a third of Morocco’s population of 34 million is illiterate – one of the highest rates in North Africa, and the rate is higher for women at 41 percent, official data shows. The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was launched during her visit and includes US$100 million to be spent on 100,000 Moroccan students, half of whom will be teenage girls. The funds come from US$450 million given by the MCC last year to boost education and employability in Morocco. Michelle Obama stepped up her campaign for girls’ education after Islamist group Boko Haram seized 276 girls from their school in Nigeria in 2014 and she highlighted their plight through a Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls. She spent Sunday and Monday in Liberia, where she visited a U.S. Peace Corps site and a school with President and Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, promoting Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative begun with her husband in 2015.
This week, on June 30 to be exact, “The Devil Wears Prada” celebrates the 10th anniversary of its theatrical release. Yes, 10! Time goes by so fast. And of course time was different back then. I remember updating the film for Simply Streep and hating the idea of Meryl doing mainstream fashion fare. After all, she was just back in the spotlight with consecutive Golden Globe wins for “Adaptation” and “Angels in America” – it was “Arthouse Streep” in the early 2000s and I couldn’t understand why she would do such light material. Of course, this opinion has changed after seeing the film, and even more after it had such an impact on Streep’s career. “Prada” would become her first box-office hit in 20 years – a success she would repeat the following Summers with “Mamma Mia” and “Julie & Julia”. Even it’s still not among my favorite films, Streep’s success today as a leading is based on the success of “The Devil Wears Prada”. In celebration of the film, Simply Streep sports a new header with the main cast. The press coverage for the film has been chronicled in a new feature for the filmography section and many more additions will be added in the coming days. Lots of media outlets are paying tribute to the film with flashback videos and interviews, so be sure to check our Twitter for links. Finally, please share your thoughts in the comments: Did you watch “The Devil Wears Prada” in the theatre? What does the film mean to you?
Yesterday, Meryl Streep paid tribute to friend and collaborator Elizabeth Swados, who passed away this January, with a special reading of “Walking the Dog” at the Barnes & Noble Union Square in New York. Pictures from the event have been added to the photo gallery. Tomorrow marks Meryl Streep’s 67th birtdhay, so make sure to watch one of her movie in celebration.
In 2014, President Obama publicly declared his affection for Meryl Streep while presenting her with the Medal for Freedom. “I love Meryl Streep,” Obama said of the Oscar winner. “Her husband knows I love her. Michelle knows I love her. There’s nothing they can do about it.” And now, two years later, both of the president’s beloveds will make a transcontinental trip together. Actually, five of the president’s beloveds will make the voyage. People reports that Streep, the First Lady, Sasha and Malia Obama, and the girls’ grandmother Marian Robinson will travel to Morocco at the end of June as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative. While in Marrakech, Streep will join Obama and actress Freida Pinto in discussing “the challenges women in the African country deal with on a regular basis.” The stop in Marrakech is just one of several planned. For the others, in Monrovia and Madrid, the First Lady will discuss the educational obstacles that women around the world face. The complete article can be read over at Vanity Fair.
On Monday, Meryl Streep unveiled Stephen Frears’ charming “Florence Foster Jenkins” in New York’s Director’s Guild Theater for an A list crowd including Renee Fleming (who introduced the film), Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin and Barbara Walters. Tony winning costume designer William Ivey Long – who’s also the head of the American Theater Wing – did a little Q&A on stage after the screening. Streep and Long met at Yale Drama School in 1972, so they had an easy rapport. Pictures from the screening and Q&A have been added to the photo gallery.