A Media Snapshot of What’s to Come

     It is that time of year again to talk about upcoming summer films and television shows (and at least one currently airing as well). So to mark my final contribution to The Waltonian, here is a look at some of the films and shows I am looking forward to.

      Cake on the makeup and settle in to watch FX’s “Feud: Bette & Joan.” This dramatization of the original Hollywood feud is about actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their animosity toward each other making the horror films “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” and “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” in the early 1960s, when studios turned their backs on them. The show is a personal look into the lives of these women and the challenges of sexism and ageism that they endured. Jessica Lange portrays Joan Crawford, intense eyebrows included. The show also stars Alfred Molina as the director, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia De Havilland, Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell, Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page and Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper.

      The standout role arguably goes to Susan Sarandon’s portrayal of Bette Davis. If you can separate her politics from her acting, you can stomach her in this. She nails every single aspect of Davis perfectly, from the accent to the mannerisms; she eats up every single scene she appears in. Her eyes are also similar to Davis’. Her performance is garnering rave reviews, ironically similar to  the real-life praise Davis received for “Baby Jane.”

      The show nails every infamous moment that (allegedly) happened in real life, from Davis installing Coca-Cola machines on the studio lot to spite Crawford (the chairwoman of Pepsi at the time), to Crawford wearing weights in a scene in which Davis had to drag her across the floor, to Davis kicking Crawford repeatedly in a scene, breaking Crawford’s ribs in the process. One episode even focuses on the infamous Oscars ceremony in which Davis was convinced she would win for “Baby Jane,” yet unbeknownst to her, Crawford had called every nominee beforehand and told them she would accept the award for them. Anne Bancroft won, and Crawford infamously swept past Davis to accept the award. Let the wig-snatching begin.

      HBO has never shied away from television biopics, and they currently have two coming up. The first is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on the biography of the same name by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who checked into a hospital in the early 1950s, where it was discovered she had cancerous cells on her cervix. Doctors took her cells without asking, and it was discovered that her cells were a unique strain that could never die. After Lacks succumbed to the cancer, the doctors began using the cells, and they have been used to this day in radiation, makeup and even the first AIDS cocktail. Her family never received a dime or a notice that this was going on, which certainly violates HIPAA today. Lacks’ daughter Deborah, portrayed by Oprah Winfrey, goes on a journey to get answers; tagging along is Skloot, portrayed by Rose Byrne. Lack is portrayed by Angelica Schuyler herself, Renée Elise Goldsberry.

      The next film, premiering in May, is “Wizard of Lies.” Based on the bestselling nonfiction story of the same name, the film chronicles the rise and fall of the Madoff clan. Bernie Madoff scammed investors in various Ponzi schemes, and he currently sits in prison, a broken man. Robert DeNiro portrays Madoff, so expect him and Sarandon to win big. My goddess, Michelle Pfeiffer, makes a triumphant return to television as wife Ruth Madoff. Ruth is the only surviving member of the main family, as both of her sons are dead: one a suicide, the other to cancer. The story of the family is a real-life Shakespearian tragedy in scope. DeNiro and Pfeiffer physically have transformed themselves to play the real-life figures, and Pfeiffer even met with Ruth Madoff to get her story. I expect she shall emerge victorious for Supporting Actress because I was robbed by Kiki Dunst not winning for “Fargo.”

      I must say I am looking forward to these shows and films to come.

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