Just in time for Sunday’s debut of the final season of Downton Abbey in the U.S., a new biography of one of the show’s favorite stars, Maggie Smith by Michael Coveney (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) is published today.
Like it’s subject, says the Washington Post review, it reveals little about her personal life, but much about her acting career, pointing readers to some of her lesser-known, but “superb” films like A Private Function (1984), the “heartbreaking” The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987) and her monologue, Bed Among the Lentils for the 1988 BBC TV series Talking Heads. Quite different from her role on Downton Abbey, it shares its dry humor.
An embargo prevented pre-pub reviews for Jon Meacham’s newest Presidential biography, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).The media managed to get their hands on the book, however, and the story that the elder President Bush called Dick Cheney an “iron-ass” became the talking point of last week’s 24-hour news shows. As a result, holds are generally topping 5:1 in places we checked, with local spikes running much higher.
Now that the book has been released, reviews have begun to appear. The newest daily NYT reviewer, Jennifer Senior, calls the biography “absorbing” and “artful” and says that Meacham is “clearly possessed of the same judiciousness and diplomatic skills as his subject.”
But Senior pulls no punches when Meacham “turns a blind eye to unflattering events,” offering a number of examples including the following about the fallout after Katrina:
“Forget whether this blistering attack was justified. What’s interesting here is the incident Mr. Meacham does not mention: that the former first lady Barbara Bush, after touring the Houston Astrodome and seeing thousands of evacuees living in squalor, told NPR, “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.” How could he have left that out?”
“Meacham’s access and lack of ideological fervor allow him to paint Bush the man in unusually subtle colors … Destiny and Power reflects the qualities of both subject and biographer: judicious, balanced, deliberative, with a deep appreciation of history and the personalities who shape it. If Meacham is sometimes polite to a fault, Destiny and Power does not suffer for it. His kinder, gentler approach succeeds in making George H. W. Bush a more sympathetic — and more complex — figure.”
A book with an unlikely beginning, as a Tumbler blog about an unlikely subject, a Supreme Court Justice, is now an unlikely hit.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Harper/Dey Street Books; OverDrive Sample), is on the rise, reaching #52 on the Amazon rankings.
Holds are well beyond a 3:1 ratio in many libraries we checked as well, with at least one spiking over 7:1.
A collection of images of Ginsberg, The New York Times describes it as “cheery curio, as if a scrapbook and the Talmud decided to have a baby,” but one with a serious start and a serious heart:
“Notorious RBG began in 2013 as a saucy Tumblr blog by Shana Knizhnik, then a law student, shortly after the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, which discarded a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act. (For the hip-hop unlettered, Notorious RBG is a play on the Notorious B.I.G., the rapper who was murdered in 1997.) Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, which in the genteel, marbled universe of the Supreme Court, is most unusual — the equivalent of shaming your spouse in front of dinner guests.”
Coverage of the title was widespread upon release and is still going strong. Sunday’s NYT featured Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem in an interview about women’s rights, starting the conversation with the book (curiouslyhe piece leads the “Fashion & Style” section) and New York Magazine listed it as one of the “9 Books We’re Reading Right Now.”
It is a graphic biography Nancy thinks would be perfect for middle and high school students, making it an alternative tie-in to the upcoming biopic based on Walter Isaacson’s 600+ page tome about the computer legend.
Filled with black, white, and gray free-flowing images and text that often breaks out of speech bubbles, the nonfiction work details Jobs’s achievements and personality. Hartland’s website gives a quick glimpse of her style.
When asked by host Marcie Sillman, Nancy said that she thought Jobs would adore it, as she did, putting her on the hunt for Harland’s previous graphic biography, Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child (RH/Schwartz & Wade, 2012).
From the goofy dad on the Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle to the chilling meth kingpin on AMC’s Breaking Bad and LBJ in Broadway’s All the Way (also set for an HBO adaptation), Bryan Cranston has shown a broad range. Next, he plays Dalton Trumbo in a biopic about the screenwriter who fought against the Hollywood blacklist in the 1940’s, to be released Nov.6 . The trailer has just been released.
Based on the book of the same title by Bruce Cook (S&S/Scribner, 1977), the movie also stars Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife, Cleo, Elle Fanning as their daughter, Nikola, Helen Mirren as Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, along with John Goodman and Louis C.K.
Now comes news that Paramount Pictures has bought the rights to the book and will cast Rousey in the starring role – playing herself. According to Variety Mark Bomback, who adapted Insurgent for the screen, will work on the script and serve as executive producer. Mary Parent (one of the people behind Noah and Godzilla) will produce along with Rousey. A start date has yet to be determined.
The book and the movie are based on interviews with the normallly press-averse David Foster Wallace (Jason Segal in the movie) by Rolling Stone journalist Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) conducted when Wallace toured for his novel Infinite Jest. (Hachette/Little, Brown, 1996).
As a result, Wallace’s book, not Lipsky’s, is rising on Amazon sales rankings.
For a while it looked like the movie might not come together at all. Directors were changed, several potential leads dropped out (including Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale). As Entertainment Weekly reports, once Michael Fassbinder was on board, the rest fell into place quickly.
Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire 2008), the script is written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The Newsroom, The Social Network). The screenplay reportedly is in three acts, each based on one of Jobs’s major launches. Kate Winslet, who plays one of the original Apple employees, said in a recent interview, “Each act is continuous 45 minutes backstage of real time at each launch that Steve Jobs made during those time periods — ‘84 was the launch of the Macintosh, ‘88 was the NeXT computer, ‘98 was the iMac. Each act takes place backstage and literally ends with him walking from the wings on to the stage to rapturous applause.”
Her autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, (S&S/Touchstone; Tantor Audio), was published in hardcover last year and is also available in trade paperback.
She also published a children’s picture book, Firebird, illus. by Christopher Myers, (Penguin/Putnam) picked as a best book of the year by NPR:
“The book is for very young dancers who may not see many people who look like them in the world of ballet. It’s illustrated by Christopher Myers, whose collagelike work is painterly, vivid and emotional. Copeland’s writing and Myers’ art draw you into a beautiful world, rich with color, texture and drama. For all budding young artists who maybe don’t have role models they can relate to, this little book provides some inspiration.”
Based on the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell, often called “the female Lawrence of Arabia,” the international trailer has been released for Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, leading up to its opening in Germany this fall (no U.S. release date has been announced).
The movie stars Nicole Kidman as Bell, with Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence. Also starring are James Franco and Damian Lewis.
Reviews were not kind when it was shown at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. IndieWire ‘s headline stated unequivocally that it’s “Werner Herzog’s Worst Movie in Years” and Variety complained, “Herzog has seldom been accused of subtlety, but this particular narrative is actually so understated, it will have to be handled as a specialty title in most territories.”
The movie is not based on a specific title, but several recent bios of Bell are available, as well as her own writings. Penguin is releasing a collection in August that refers to the movie:
If you were wandering the streets of Queens yesterday, you may have seen a production crew at work on ABC’s limited TV series, Madoff, based on The Madoff Chronicles by Brian Ross (Hyperion, 2009). The subject of the series, Bernie Madoff, now incarcerated for developing an infamous Ponzi scheme, was born in Queens.
No release date has been announced, but in November the Disney Book Group plans to release a new paperback version that “will serve as a tie to the ABC drama starring Richard Dreyfuss.” (it and other tie-ins are listed in our Upcoming Movie and TV Tie-ins).
The movie Steve Jobs has a multitude of high-profile names attached to it, including director Danny Boyle, screen writer Aaron Sorkin, lead actor, Michael Fassbender and the author of the bio it’s based on, Walter Isaacson. It was teased in appropriate fashion with a spot on last night’s high-profile final episode (the “final episode EVER” as we were continually reminded) of AMC’s Mad Men.
The trailer is less than a minute long, but that gave critics enough to work with, from the New York Times(“seems to be courting Oscars right out of the gate”) to the L.A. Times (“As befits the legacy of Jobs — an inveterate showman who whipped the Apple faithful into a frenzy by keeping the company’s creations secret until just the right moment — the teaser is enigmatic and intriguing”).
The movie arrives Oct. 9. A tie-in has not been announced.
The movie that went through so many changes that many wondered if it would ever become a reality, Steve Jobs, based on Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of the same title (S&S, 2011), is now set for release on Oct 9, a date that, as Variety notes, is “just in time for awards season.”
Currently shooting in the San Francisco area, it stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs, in a role originally intended for Leonardo DiCaprio and then for Christian Bale. Seth Rogen plays Steve Wozniak, Kate Winslet, former Macintosh marketing head Joanna Hoffman, and Jeff Daniels, Apple CEO John Sculley.
We envy this headline from New York magazine’s Vulture blog, “Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Movie Begins Filming With Cast Full of People Who Haven’t Dropped Out Yet.”
Yes, the movie based on Walter Isaacson’s biography has suffered through many changes. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale were breathlessly announced as stars, only to drop out. It has also changed studios (from Sony to Universal) and directors (from David Fincher to Danny Boyle) and had to endure another film being released with a similar title, Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher.
Universal’s announcement this week that production has begun in San Francisco may raise skepticism, but the company insists that Michael Fassbender is set to play Jobs, with Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Kate Winslet as former Macintosh marketing head Joanna Hoffman, Jeff Daniels as Apple CEO John Sculley. Boyle is still directing.