Wednesday, May 12
Hadley Davis, 27, knows how to get ahead in TV. Basically, her formula is this: master one job, then move on to another area of the business, starting at the bottom. Now, with her eye on a career as a show-biz macher , she has landed a job writing for Dawson’s Creek .
She used to be a New York-based development girl. (What’s that, Bill?) Well, development girls (and guys) read scripts, comb magazines and newspapers and attend plays looking to rip off, uh, procure new material for Hollywood studios.
Ms. Davis grew up in Boston; attended University of Pennsylvania, majoring in English; saw an article in a woman’s mag about doing development for a living; called Warner Brothers on the phone; spoke
to a “really nice woman”; got an interview; got an internship; became a script reader; went to work helping to raise money in New York on Warner Brothers’ New Victory Theater project; got a new job at Wind Dancer Films, which is responsible for Home Improvement .
“I started over again,” she said. “I was an assistant there and I gradually worked my way up.”
Did she ever. While working for Wind Dancer, Ms. Davis had an incredible office on the 56th floor of Carnegie Towers on 57th Street. “Tina Brown has my office now. She even has my extension. During the summer, I got a call from an agent’s assistant from one of the ‘Big Three’ saying, ‘Hadley, we’ve been trying to reach you and Tina Brown’s got your number.’”
Like any ridiculously motivated young person, Ms. Davis took advantage of the situation and wrote a small humor piece about the whole hullabaloo, which she promptly sent off to Ms. Brown for appraisal. “She thought it was funny and had someone take me out to lunch.”
Aaah, Tina. Aaah, lunch!
She’s already written a peppy guidebook about how to become a development girl called Development Girl: The Hollywood Virgin’s Guide to Making It in the Movie Business . Anyway, while Ms. Davis was trying to sell the book she teamed up with a friend, Bonnie Schneider, and pitched a sitcom based on her life as a development girl and sold the options to ABC. The show never got made. But now Ms. Davis is trying to get a movie made based on her book.
“There were lot of promises made,” Ms. Davis recalled. “They promised us everything at first, then they promised us a lot less. At first we could write and then we couldn’t and so on. We realized we needed to have credentials as writers to have a show.” So the team wrote two “spec scripts” for the HBO series Sex and the City and Felicity , “because they were our two favorite shows.”
Then they found an agent who handles so-called “baby writers.” “We wanted someone who was as hungry as we were,” she said. “He said he was looking for a house in Malibu and I told him, ‘We want to buy you that house.’”
That’s it, right there. Learn to talk like that and you, too, can be a TV big shot. Until then, watch Dawson’s Creek like the rest of us shlubs. [WPIX, 11, 8 P.M.]
Thursday, May 13
This season’s next-to-last episode of Friends finds Joey and Chandler traveling together to the desert outside of Las Vegas where Joey is to star in an independent film. Rachel is being neurotic about an eye infection and Phoebe is angry with Ross. To recap: So far on Friends , the constants have been the friendship between Chandler and Joey and the fact that Monica and Ross are brother and sister. Beyond that, well, it has been like a course in advanced topology: Ross has loved Rachel when Rachel has not loved Ross; Ross has loved Rachel when Rachel has loved Ross; Rachel has loved Ross when Ross has loved someone else; Chandler and Monica have been indifferent toward each other; Chandler and Monica have been passionate with each other; and Joey and Phoebe have yet to have sex with any of their fellow Friends . Meaning there’s still some room for another few seasons.
[WNBC, 4, 8 P.M.]
Friday, May 14
Quietly, Showtime’s weak sci-fi show, The Outer Limits , has plowed along with its Twilight Zone -like premises. The difference is that The Twilight Zone ‘s primitive special effects actually adds to the strangeness while The Outer Limits ‘ more advanced technology just looks silly. Tonight’s fun begins at 8 o’clock, when Showtime rebroadcasts the first episode, “The Sandkings,” followed by “Tribunal,” about a time traveler who witnesses Nazi atrocities. [Showtime, 48, 8 P.M.]
Saturday, May 15
Special guest writer Jim Windolf supplies the following: Do you read Tom Shales in The Washington Post ? Great, great TV critic, right? Writes like he invented TV criticism, or at least thinks he does. Anyway, didn’t you think his May 10 review of Saturday Night Live ‘s Monica Lewinsky episode was a little strange? Not only did the usually tough Mr. Shales praise Ms. Lewinsky’s performance, but, more puzzlingly, he tossed in a few bitchy asides about her weight.
“If anything was shrinking,” wrote Mr. Shales, “it was her clothing; she looked extremely chubby of face and fanny.”
This aside and others like it seemed out of place in the review. Why? Because Mr. Shales is a chubster himself.
But who are we kidding? “Chubster” doesn’t really begin to describe it. As anyone who caught his stilted guest appearance on Siskel & Ebert knows, Mr. Shales is just plain fat. How fat is he? Well, Tom Shales is so fat, he made Ebert look like Siskel! Tonight on Saturday Night Live : thin starlet Sarah Michelle Gellar.
[WNBC, 4, 11:30 P.M.]
Sunday, May 16
If you lived in a more TV-friendly part of the country, you would be afforded the privilege of forking over a little more money for HBO Signature, which would actually give you something worth watching–like tonight’s Human Remains , a documentary by Jay Rosenblatt. The half-hour show features five-minute video-clip montages devoted to the century’s worst dictators–Hitler, Stalin, Mao, others. The soundtrack consists of diary-like monologues based on real quotes and biographical information. It’s harrowing stuff.
“I came across a clip of Hitler eating,” said Mr. Rosenblatt, 44, who in his work as a documentary filmmaker deals with a lot of archival film, “and it felt really disturbing. I only thought of him as a monster and when I thought of him as a human being, it made it even more horrible, his humanity. So I decided to expand the film to include others. It took about eight months of research. I had to find imagery that made them look human, no uniforms and no hats. I also manipulated the images on an optical printer, turning medium shots into close-ups. The whole tension of the film is that we know them and what they are not saying. So a lot of the effect is achieved by the omissions. It’s a creepy film.” Unfortunately, you can’t get HBO Signature here.
Monday, May 17
Khaki swing? Khaki-a-go-go? Khaki soul? Khaki country? Khaki groove? Khaki rock? Sure, the images of the dancers are gorgeous–sometimes they even stop my heart–but they cannot change the fact that, if you’re going to meet your grandma for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, it’s khakis you’ll be wearing. So I called up Lisa Prisco, spokesman for the Gap, to tell her that, sorry, khakis just aren’t cool.
“I don’t think so,” Ms. Prisco said. “For a long time, khakis had this image as being sort of square. But we have so many styles, there’s plain front, pleated and so on. I think you can dress in khakis and go out on the town.”
O.K. I’ll try it, lady, but I don’t think I’m gonna like it very much. [MTV, 20, Gap commercials all day long.]
Tuesday, May 18
$ Wendie Malick plays the surly, pretentious ex-model Nina Van Horn on Just Shoot Me . You may remember her as Judith Tupper Stone in the HBO boutique series Dream On .
Ms. Malick began life as a gofer for then-Representative Jack Kemp. “That’s become a dirty occupation these days,” she said of her former job. “But there was none of that . I basically ran errands for him. Occasionally, he would let me take notes during the Senate hearings. He was a good guy.”
After working for Mr. Kemp, Ms. Malick became a model for the Wilhelmina agency, traveling to Paris, New York and London. “I started modeling when all the Aryan blonde girls were hitting it big and I was a dark girl with Egyptian blood,” she said.
Ms. Malick says the atmosphere on the set of Just Shoot Me is great and everybody gets along real well. Because the show was a late-season replacement, she says, the show was allowed to grow at its own pace. “We had a chance to break in without the pressure from the networks,” she said.
Ms. Malick is working on a movie with a pal of hers, Claudia LaCava, who’s written a few scripts herself (they haven’t been produced yet). The screenplay is a vehicle for … guess who? Wendie Malick! “It’s a very cool idea–it’s about women,” she said. “We’re kind of jamming on it, but I don’t want to tell you about it because I don’t want anyone to steal it.” [WNBC, 4, 9 P.M.]
Peter Bogdanovich’s Movie of the Week
Which picture did Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden and Ann Miller all appear in together? It was the funny and touching 1937 adaptation of Edna Ferber’s and George S. Kaufman’s Broadway success about a bunch of struggling actresses in a New York women’s boarding club, Stage Door [Wednesday, May 12, 8 A.M., and Thursday, May 13, 9:30 P.M.,Turner Classic Movies, 82; also on videocassette] . Directed with a discreet and delicate touch by Gregory La Cava (whose Carole Lombard-William Powell classic, My Man Godfrey , had come out the previous year), this comedy-drama–remember those?–has boundless energy and charm, thanks mainly to his sure hand and the superb ensemble performances he inspires from a once-in-a-lifetime cast. Critics of the period praised the script by veterans Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiller as being an improvement on the original play, and although time has somewhat dated a couple of plot points, the overall work still has affecting contemporary relevance and resonance in its look both at women and their place in show business. Seen today, it isn’t surprising the film received four major Oscar nominations: best picture, best director, best screenplay, and best supporting actress for lovely Andrea Leeds, who carries the picture’s most dramatic aspects.
Ms. Hepburn had already, four years earlier, won an Academy Award for playing an aspiring stage actress in the now fairly creaky Morning Glory , so it’s a tribute to her unselfish artistry that she would take a generically similar role in such a group effort. She gives Stage Door its greatest solidity in an unmannered, self-effacing performance as the newcomer to the “Footlights Club,” secretly an heiress whose millionaire father (Samuel S. Hinds) strongly disapproves of her theater ambitions. The lengths to which he goes (a bit far-fetched) to prove her a failure makes him definitively unlikable, though in fact all of the men come off badly here. The smooth Broadway entrepreneur and incorrigible lothario, deftly done by Adolphe Menjou, is the most blatantly despicable, while the other guys who appear briefly in the story–Jack Carson, Franklin Pangborn and Grady Sutton play them–are either sycophants or boobs.
But then it’s the women’s picture from beginning to end, and what a kick to see them all so young and yet so fully realized. Ginger Rogers is the wisecracking hoofer–she does a few quick but tantalizing turns dancing with Ann Miller–and is effectively restrained in her dramatic moments. Ms. Miller, Lucille Ball and Eve Arden had their first really sizable screen roles here and they each have total authority and instantly recognizable personas on which they would play variations for the rest of their long careers. Equally effective are veterans Gail Patrick (as the cool, sophisticated lady) and Constance Collier (as the ultra-theatrical stage doyenne).
The movie’s most famous (and often impersonated line) is Ms. Hepburn’s opening speech for the character in a play she ends up doing: “The calla lilies are in bloom again,” which she does stiffly and by rote until life teaches her a tragic lesson and then she acts it with tremulous, poignant emotion. However, the essential theme of the whole picture is summed up awfully well in another line Ms. Hepburn virtually throws away right before the end. Talking to Ginger, she says, “We’re probably a different race of people.” In context, this seems to be meant as referring to theater folk, especially actresses, but it could just as easily be interpreted as an intriguingly ambiguous comment on women in general.