Condolences to the Fisher family so quick again after Debbie Reynolds has passed away only a day after her dauhter. Carrie Fisher, the actress and writer best known for her iconic role as Star Wars’ Princess Leia, died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack four days earlier. She was 60. The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she carved out her own idiosyncratic career as a truth-telling Hollywood wit. Frankly addressing her own problems with substance abuse and bipolar disorder, she penned the 1987 hit novel “Postcards From the Edge”, an only slightly fictionalized version of her own life as a sometimes-depressed actress and the daughter of a major, and occasionally intimidating, Hollywood star. She went on to write the book’s screen adaptation for the 1990 film version, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Whenever Fisher appeared on the Hollywood awards circuit to pay tribute to another star, she could be counted on to offer up a wry observation that provoked laughter. Speaking at the 2004 AFI Life Achievement Award given to Streep, she recalled what it was like to have the Oscar-winning actress play her. “After Postcards premiered, I began daily to see the pain and disappointment in the eyes of my family and friends every time I wasn’t Meryl,” Fisher admitted. “There’s a name for this condition as it turns out — Merylnoma Streepdecoccus.” Streep and Fisher grew close during the pre-production of “Postcards from the Edge” and remained friends and frequent red carpet companions. This is truly sad news. Rest in peace.
It’s really not a good year for Meryl’s past movie directors, as the passing of wonderful filmmaker Curtis Hanson was revealed today. Hanson was probably best known for 1997’s “L.A. Confidential”, which was nominated for nine Oscars, including for best picture and best director and won for Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mr. Hanson and his co-writer, Brian Helgeland). As Sasha Stone at AwardsDaily wrote earlier today, he was also a director of great women. Hanson had an ability to bring out fierce performances in his actresses – from Kim Basinger, who won an Oscar in LA Confidential, to the absolutely fantastic Rebecca De Mornay in the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. She should have gotten an Oscar nomination for that movie. And what can you say about The River Wild except that it’s a much better movie than it’s been given credit for, thank in large part to Meryl Streep – but also Hanson was a good director of thrillers, usually those that revolved around female characters, but he also directed 8 Mile with Eminem which came close to getting a Best Picture nomination.
It’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.
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.
Next week will see the release of “Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep”, a wonderfully research book that explores how Meryl Streep became the celebrated actress she is today. It goes way back to her upbringing in New Jersey, her training at Yale and Vassar University to her first successes on the New York stages and on tv and film with Holocaust and Kramer vs. Kramer. I have been able to read the book already and can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone interested in Meryl’s early year and the process of becoming an actor. Make sure to pre-order your copy. For Simply Streep, Mr. Schulman has taken the time to answer some questions about the book and his research. Enjoy reading:
What made you interested in Meryl Streep’s early career to write “Her Again”?
I’ve always been an admirer of her work, but mostly knew her in her current incarnation: the top-of-her-game, self-deprecating diva who’s been our “Greatest Living Actress” for over three decades. When I started contemplating a book, I began asking myself: Who was Meryl Streep before she became iconic? Was she ever just a twenty-something working actress trying to figure out what to do with her life? How did she learn to do what she does? Can it even be learned? In other words, I was interested in the Meryl Streep we don’t know. It just so happened that the story of her artistic coming-of-age was also a story about New York in the 1970s, a period I’ve always been drawn to. And, of course, it was the story of her two great loves: John Cazale and Don Gummer. This period of her life was full of great characters, inherent drama, and deep, conflicting emotions—not unlike a Meryl Streep movie.
Theatre Workshop of Nantucket announced today that three-time Academy Award winner and 19-time Academy Award nominee Meryl Streep will appear at a special benefit cabaret Saturday, July 30 at the Nantucket Hotel. The evening will pay tribute to TWN’s 60 years of performing on the island. “On With The Show – A 60th Anniversary Cabaret” will feature theater songs and stories starring Streep; John Shea, TWN’s artistic director emeritus; and actor/director Joe Grifasi, who will recreate the cabaret group they formed while classmates at Yale. Individual tickets for the cabaret will be available March 15 through the TWN box office. Article courtesy The Inquirer and Mirror.
An all-star fundraiser has been announced for legendary keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who is a founding member of Funkadelic and who has worked with the Talking Heads, Fela Kuti, Mos Def and others. Worrell was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. The benefit will take place in NYC at Webster Hall on April 4 with all-star guests like George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Living Color, Rick Springfield, Paul Shaffer, Maceo Parker, BIll Laswell, Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, B-52s’ Fred Schneider and many more, including filmmaker Johnathan Demme and actress Meryl Streep, who worked with Worrell on last year’s movie Ricki and the Flash. Tickets for that show are now on sale. Thanks to Glenn for the heads-up.
According to Variety, Clive Owen, Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska have joined Meryl Streep on the international jury of the Berlin Film Festival. Also on the jury are French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, “Sight & Sound” editor Nick James and German actor Lars Eidinger. As previously announced, Streep is the president of the jury. The festival also announced it would present its Berlinale Camera award to Tim Robbins for his achievements as an actor, director, writer and producer; U.S. producer, movie theater owner and distributor Ben Barenholtz; and German cinema operator Marlies Kirchner. The award is given to film personalities or institutions to which the festival feels particularly indebted and wishes to express its thanks. The festival opens next Thursday.
Meryl Streep will share her experience from decades at the top of the acting profession with the 300 emerging film professionals taking part in this year’s Berlinale Talents program. Streep confirmed she will hold a workshop for the Berlinale Talents on Sunday, Feb.14 during the Berlin International Film Festival. Streep is the president of the jury for the 66th Berlin festival. The 300 talents – emerging film professionals from around the world – were selected from a group of more than 2,700 applicants. They will take part in a series of workshops and masterclasses during the event, which runs Feb.13 – Feb. 18 concurrent with the Berlin fest.
Academy Award winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary, “Song of Lahore”, is gearing up for a star-studded opening in the US. According to a press release, the documentary’s New York and LA premieres will be hosted by Meryl Streep. Song of Lahore is set to release in the US this November with premieres in New York City on the 3rd of November, in San Francisco on the 6th and West Hollywood in Los Angeles on the 9th. The documentary is based on the acclaimed Sachal Studios and their journey to New York, made in collaboration with Andy Schocken. It focuses on the music community of Lahore, which until the late 1970s, was world-renowned for its music and talent. In 2004, Izzat Majeed founded Sachal Studios to create a space for traditional music in a nation that had rejected its musical roots. After convincing a number of master musicians to pick up their instruments again, they quietly released some classical and folk albums, but an experimental album fusing jazz and South Asian instruments brought Sachal Studios worldwide acclaim. Many thanks to Frank and Marci for the heads-up.