Steven Soderbergh brings the Panama Papers to our Netflix screens October 18.
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Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic hits theaters December 25.
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Ryan Murphy's Netflix musical adaptation will star Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.
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Jun 28
2020

Stacey Abrams, who made history as the first Black woman to run for governor and deliver a response to the State of the Union address, is one of numerous forces behind a new #BeCounted PSA dedicated to the 2020 Census. #BeCounted is in partnership with Abrams’ organization Fair Count and Harness, an advocacy organization founded by America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, and Ryan Piers Williams to engage artists in social change. Abrams is one of many recognizable faces, including Meryl Streep, Darren Criss, Connie Britton, Queen Latifah, Justin Timberlake, and Kerry Washington, participating in the video, which can be seen above. #BeCounted launches this PSA (in both English and Spanish) produced in partnership with NowThis to help raise awareness about the immense power and impact of the United States Census. “The census is one of the most powerful tools of progress in America, and one of the least understood. It’s how we allocate $1.5 trillion in investment every year, and it’s also how we allocate political power for a decade,” Abrams tells EW. The #BeCounted initiative is just one of many efforts Abrams is engaged in to raise awareness around the power of the census and fight for voting rights. While #BeCounted is an extension of her work with Fair Count and her voting rights organization Fair Fight, she also addresses the census in depth in her new book Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America. Abrams is also one of the subjects of And She Could Be Next, a two-part documentary series premiering on PBS on June 29, which chronicles the story of a defiant movement of women of color who are transforming American politics from the ground up. It’s not the only documentary on her docket either; she’s also featured in a still-untitled voting rights documentary from Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés, which Amazon is slated to release this fall.

Jun 13
2020

We conclude our weekly series on Meryl Streep’s films of the 1990s, which started 12 weeks ago and was originally designed with the thought that our lives would have been back to normal 3 months later. Unfortunately this is not yet the case. To all visitors, readers and friends, stay healthy and strong. And enjoy a Saturday dose of “Music of the Heart” if your’e strong enough :-)

The combination of Wes Craven and Meryl Streep in the late 1990s seemed like the most far-fetched idea Hollywood could offer around that time. After all, Craven had single handedly revived the slasher genre with „Scream“, the following films in the franchise and countless knock-offs of who did what when during Summer vacation. Of course, Craven wasn’t new to the genre – he created „A Nightmare on Elm Street“ in 1984, significantly mixed horror cliches with humor and satire and became the „Master of Horror“ for legions of fans. So, what could he possibly be filming with Meryl Streep, if it wasn’t a part of Ghostface’s crazy mother? The story behind the making of „Music of the Heart“ is a prime example to never judge a book by its cover, nevermind how bloody or gory it may be.

“Music of the Heart” tells the story of real-life teacher Roberta Guaspari as she rebounds from a painful divorce and moves to New York with her two sons to start what’s become the hugely popular East Harlem Violin Program. “I wouldn’t have the ability to play the violin. I never would have even thought about it without the gift of that program,” she said during a interview with the Los Angeles Times prior to the film’s release. „“The only reason that I’ve fought so hard through the years is that I love teaching, and I don’t want to stop. The only thing that’s changed in my life now is that I’ve got 10 more things to do all the time.” Guaspari hesitated when Miramax Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein asked to do a feature based on her life, and then told her that a man known for horror films would direct the project. “I was really frightened, to be quite honest. It was like selling myself to have to put my life up on the screen. All of my friends and family said, ‘No, don’t let them do it,’ ” Guaspari says. But she is satisfied that Weinstein and Craven kept their promise to take care of her story, though it is one that presents a slightly warmer classroom atmosphere than the more disciplined learning environment favored by the real-life instructor.

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Jun 06
2020

„Dancing at Lughnasa“ remais a curiosity in Streep’s filmography, but a lovely one. Brian Friel’s play about five unmarried sisters in 1930s Ireland was a runaway hit after ist 1990 premiere in Dublin and later London, winning the Olivier Award for Best Play, followed by its transition to Broadway the next year and winning the Tony for Best Play and a Best Featured Actress award for Brit Brennan. But besides its success on the stage, „Lughnasa“ was never a dead-ringer to become a box office hit in theatres. Streep’s casting secured the film an international spotlight and decent reviews, but it struggled to find a mainstream audience. Today, „Dancing at Lughnasa“ reigns among Streep’s fine work in the 90s, but is often forgotten to be mentioned at all.

Friel’s story explores themes which were central to Irish cinema and to Irish culture more generally in the 20th century, namely, emigration; the position of women in Ireland (rural) society, including illegitimacy, being unmarried and working at backbreaking labour; the relationship between the legacy of popular ‘pagan’ religious practice and the institutional church; and the point-of-view of a young boy recalling his childhood and the events which formed him. In 1936, five sisters live in quiet desperation in the small town of Ballybeg in Donegal.The eldest sister, Kate, a local schoolteacher is a woman of rigid beliefs. On the surface she is a formidable woman,a little feared but deeply loved by all of her sisters, especially Maggie, who has a kind benevolent heart, a wicked sense of humour and a wild fondness for life. Agnes is a quiet, deep woman with secret reserves of courage. She is devoted to Rose, who is simple, frightened of no danger because she does not know any. Rose has embarked on a relationship with a local married man, Danny Bradley much to the concern of her sisters. Christina, the youngest, has defied the strict morality of her society and given birth to a love child, Michael. All of their lives are thrown into turmoil by the re-emergence of two men. The first is their brother Father Jack, a missionary long lost to the ways of African culture who has returned home. The second man is Gerry Evans, Michael’s father – a Welsh travelling salesman who sweeps in and out of Christina’s life as if he had no cares or responsibilities in the world. He has returned to see his son and to stir Christina’s emotions up once more before leaving to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The impending arrival of a woollen factory threatens what paltry income Agnes, Rose and Christina earn from knitting gloves and falling school numbers leaves Kate without a job. As the oldest sister, Kate feels responsible to keep the family dynamics together, in the most stubborn way possible.

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Jun 02
2020

According to Page Six, the Public Theater has postponed its digital gala, “We Are One Public,” due to the protests around the country. “In this time of national trauma, when the Covid crisis has so disproportionately impacted the Black community, when the injustices of our way of life have been made so clear, it just feels wrong for us to sail ahead with our event,” a note on the theater’s website stated. “This is a time for mourning and reflection,” the statement continued. “It has taken us far too long to proclaim the simple truth: Black Lives Matter,” the New York City-based theater company further stated. “We must stand in solidarity with Black artists, Black staff members, and the Black community … The Public is determined to be on the side that fights racism and inequality manifested inside and outside of our walls.” Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Antonio Banderas, Glenn Close and more had been scheduled to participate in the event scheduled for Monday night.

May 31
2020

Some news from May 19, with many thanks to Glenn for the heads-up. Meryl Streep has made an appeal for financial donations to help Sharon Hospital and its hard-hit Nuvance Health parent company recover from the coronavirus epidemic. “Our family has relied on Sharon Hospital for decades, for all sorts of emergencies, and I think that right now, at this important time, we need to thank the staff at Sharon Hospital,” Streep said in a 90-second video posted Tuesday on social media. “We also need to step up and support Nuvance Health.” Streep is the latest celebrity to help Sharon Hospital meet a $1 million matching grant for losses incurred fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. “As someone who is personally connected to the Sharon community, I’ve seen firsthand how courageous, dedicated, professional and resilient the clinical staff are at Nuvance Health hospitals,” actor Liam Neeson said in a video posted on social media in April. “Let’s show the Nuvance Health heroes how much we appreciate their devotion and commitment to patient care.” Nuvance is the $2 billion network of hospitals in Connecticut and New York that was at the center of the state’s fight against the coronavirus during the infection surge in April. The year-old health network, which also operates Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk hospitals, was stressed but not in crisis during the surge, with enough beds, staff and supplies to fight the virus. But Nuvance hospitals lost money when they suspended elective surgery to clear the deck for COVID-19 patients. Furloughed staff and increased coronavirus expenses deepened the network’s deficit. In response, Nuvance launched a $5 million philanthropy drive, and had raised over $3 million by early April, when billionaire philanthropist Leonard Blavatnik added another $1 million donation. The Hollywood-backed appeal for Sharon Hospital is separate. “An anonymous donor came to us and said, ‘If you can raise $1 million for Sharon Hospital, I will match it,’” Nuvance spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said.

May 30
2020

Only three films remain for our coverage of Streep in the 1990s. All three fall into the category „films that wouldn’t be made today“ or “there wouldn’t be an audience at all”. Truth to the bold, it’s a miracle these films were released theatrically in the 1990s anyway, was it not a testament to Streep’s star power to greenlight projects about cancer, dancing sisters in Ireland and music teachers. Such is the case for „One True Thing“, which, on the outside, looks like a movie-of-the-week on Lifetime, a problem film for the privilegded white, or a film about noble housewives whose equally invested into flower arrangements as she is into her illness. But as the film looms on you with beautifully photographed scenery, it cuts deep – and reminds you why Streep has been recognized as one of the best character actresses of her time. In „One True Thing“, Streep delivers one of her most touching performances of the decade.

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May 27
2020

We Are One Public will include performances and appearances by Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Todd Almond, Troy Anthony Burton, Michael Cerveris, Daniel Craig, Carla Duren, Danaya Esperanza, Jane Fonda, Nanya-Akuki Goodrich, David Henry Hwang, Brian d’Arcy James, Alicia Keys, John Lithgow, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Margaret Odette, Kelli O’Hara, Suzan-Lori Parks, Phylicia Rashad, Jay O. Sanders, Liev Schreiber, Deandre Sevon and Martin Sheen. The event will be streamed on the Public’s website, YouTube and Facebook on June 1 at 8PM ET. They join previously announced stars Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, David Hyde Pierce, Anne Hathaway, Laura Benanti, Kim Blanck, Ally Bonino, Danielle Brooks, Jenn Colella, Elvis Costello, Claire Danes, Holly Gould, Danai Gurira, Stephanie Hsu, Oscar Isaac, Nikki M. James, John Leguizamo, Audra McDonald, Grace McLean, Sandra Oh, Mia Pak, Phillipa Soo, Trudie Styler & Sting, Will Swenson, Shaina Taub, Kuhoo Verma, Ada Westfall, Kate Wetherhead and more. The event is directed by Kenny Leon with music direction by Ted Sperling; Anne McPherson will serve as production stage manager. Audrey and Zygi Wilf are the gala honorees, and the artistic honoree is Sam Waterston, who has performed in 13 productions at the Public. The gala co-chairs are Kwame Anthony Appiah, Candia Fisher, Joanna Fisher, Laure Sudreau and Lynne Wheat. The gala will be complemented by an online auction which will open a week before the event. Auction items range from virtual artist meet-and-greets to master classes and private performances. For more information, head here. Many thanks to Glenn for the heads-up.

May 23
2020

A deeply personal story from America’s funniest director sheds light on a family’s struggle with a child’s epilepsy and the American healthcare system. In one of her rare appearances on television, Meryl Streep plays a tiger mother going to lenghts to find a miracle that can cure her sick child.

I don’t think any director has made us laugh more in the 1980s and 1990s than Jim Abrahams, best known as a member of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker team that brought us “Airplane”, “Top Secret”, “Ruthless People” and “The Naked Gun” series. But Abrahams’ private life took a serious turn when his young son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Charlie would convulse and lose consciousness. Medications didn’t help. As his seizures continued, his cognitive abilities slowly deteriorated. Jim, who wasn’t a medical doctor, decided to start investigating alternative treatments. After days in the library looking through books and medical journals, he found a book on childhood epilepsy written by Dr. John Freeman, the director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The book described that a diet that mimics the metabolism of starvation by cutting most dietary sources of carbohydrates and proteins could in some cases cure drug-resistant childhood epilepsy. Ignoring the warnings of the staff at the boy’s hospital, Jim transferred his son to the epilepsy center in Maryland, and Charlie was started on the diet. The young boy immediately showed improvements in his condition, and a couple of years later he became seizure free. Even the mental setback turned out to be reversible.

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May 19
2020

Brace yourself for Meryl Streep’s best performance of the year – if not the decade! (we’re quite early into the decade, I know). She has joined director Taika Waititi, who is partnering with the Roald Dahl Story Company to read the beloved children’s novel “James and the Giant Peach” across ten installments. This star-studded reading of James and the Giant Peach is part of a campaign to raise funds for the global health non-profit Partners in Health, which is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. The Roald Dahl Story Company has announced that it will match donations up to $1 million to charities impacted by the global health crisis, such as the Roald Dahl Marvellous Children’s Charity in the UK. The first two installments are both available to watch now, with remaining episodes to be released on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the second episode, Meryl and former co-star Benedict Cumberbatch take on the roles of evil sisters Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. You won’t find anything more entertaining to watch right now, so sit back and enjoy.

May 19
2020

Some of the brightest stars from Broadway and Hollywood came together last night, May 18, to celebrate Covenant House, the international charity providing housing, food and healthcare to children and youth facing homelessness in 31 cities across six countries. Funds from the benefit concert are helping Covenant House COVID-19 relief efforts to provide more food, more supplies, and to continue to provide staffing to care for sick and symptomatic youth. To donate to #endyouthhomelessness, visit safeplacetosleep.org.

In 2019, the talented cast of BKLYN: The Musical reunited for one night only for a 15th anniversary reunion concert to benefit Covenant House. The show follows a group of homeless musicians known as the City Weeds who transform a street corner under the Brooklyn Bridge into their play space. The cast – Quentin Earl Darrington, Eden Espinosa, Ramona Keller Karen Olivo, Julie Reiber, Will Swenson, and Caren Tackett – reunited once again (virtually) to perform the show’s anthem to empathy, “Heart Behind These Hands” Their performance was coupled with Covenant House alumni testimonials read by Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep.