Magazine article Variety

Greenlight Is Next Gender Parity Fight

Magazine article Variety

Greenlight Is Next Gender Parity Fight

Article excerpt

THE #METOO AND TIME'S UP movements have galvanized powerful women in the entertainment industry to work harder to effect social change and combat sexual misconduct in the workplace. But on the heels of a historic night at the Golden Globe Awards, insiders are still questioning whether that progressive spirit will extend all the way up to the most supreme power in Hollywood: the greenlight.

It was impossible not to notice that the five big winners at the Jan. 7 ceremony were all female-led productions: movies "Lady Bird" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" on the film side and "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Big Little Lies" in the TV series races.

The triumph came on a night when the vast majority of Globes attendees wore black in solidarity with women throughout the country who have experienced harassment and assault on the job. The Time's Up initiative, spearheaded by a slew of bold-faced names - Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes, to name a few, has helped move many in the business from outrage to action.

"I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories," Winfrey said in a stunning speech after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award that had many in the crowd hoping she'd make a run for political office.

One of the most insidious examples of gender bias in the industry remains the "chick flick" discount. It has been axiomatic from the days of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks that stories revolving around female protagonists typically aren't as commercial as projects toplined by men. Female viewers will dive into a tale about a man more readily than males will watch a woman's story, or so the thinking goes. It's an especially pervasive mind-set when it comes to assessing a project's foreign sales prospects.

On the film side, Globes watchers have to go back to 1984 to find an example of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. selecting two female-centric movies - "Terms of Endearment" and "Yentl" - for its best-picture winners. "Yentl," as presenter Barbra Streisand noted with some bewilderment at this year's show, represents the one and only time the HFPA has awarded a female filmmaker its best-director prize. Despite a wealth of choices, no women made the cut for a best-director nom at this year's fete - a glaring omission that was pointed out Sunday night by presenter Natalie Portman.

Still, the 2018 Globe winners circle highlights productions that challenge conventional wisdom. "Big Little Lies" has been a glossy triumph and awards magnet for HBO and producer-stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. The Oscar winners banded together to get the project offthe ground specifically because they were frustrated with the lack of meaty material for women coming across their desks.

"Lady Bird" and "Three Billboards" are both convention-defying stories fueled by female protagonists, with no skimpy outfits in sight. The overwhelmingly strong reception for "Lady Bird" has vaulted actress Greta Gerwig into the ranks of rising- star directors with her helming debut.

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," starring Rachel Brosnahan, has quickly become a signature show for Amazon, keeping it in the awards conversation that is so important to streaming services. The same is true for Hulu and "The Handmaid's Tale," a Cinderella story that led the smallest of the three domestic streaming heavyweights to be the first to land an Emmy for best drama series. …

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