Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Apologies, thanks, news and cuteness

Apologies for the missing post everyone - the unfortunate consequence of multiple crises on both sides of the big pond!
  • Firstly, a thank you to the tagboarder who sent us the gorgeous photo above. From Journal Now, it shows a two year old Jennifer Ehle in 1972, the year her father received the North Carolina Award.

  • A second thank you to all of you who alerted us to the deleted scenes on the DVD of Michael Clayton, in which there are brief snippets of Ms Ehle as Brini Glass. Courier Post Online lists the DVD extras as consisting of 'a commentary track and deleted scenes, including a subplot involving Jennifer Ehle as Clayton's girlfriend'. The Morning Call adds a reassurance from director/writer Tony Gilroy:
[...] ''The sequence wasn't cut for quality,'' said Gilroy, who excised any hint of the relationship because it made our anti-hero seem less desperate. [...]

Post-Gazette Now also comment briefly on the film. The Cambridge Student Online have interviewed Tom Wilkinson - one of the stars of the film - if you are interested. There is one mention of Ms Ehle, but no discussion of her deleted role. As you may know, Michael Clayton won an Oscar this week, and can now be purchased.

In other news:

[...] I noticed the wonderful Tony-winning Jennifer Ehle (Escape from Utopia) starring in a recent "Hallmark Hall of Fame" film "The Russell Girl". ... Ehle was once again outstanding. [...]

[...] Gavin O'Connor...wants answers. [He is] blaming the AWOL status of his movie on New Line chairman Bob Shaye. The writer-director is so incensed that he said he will withhold "Warrior," a script he's due to deliver to the studio in the next few weeks, until he knows the fate of his film. The director is also exploring the possibility of extricating "Pride and Glory" after New Line told him the picture wouldn't likely be released until next year. ... Trailers for the film have been running since fall before "No Country for Old Men," "Atonement" and "American Gangster." ...

"It was a joy making the movie, but then something happened internally at that company," O'Connor said. "I don't think Bob Shaye believes in it, and he's decided he'll only release (sure bet) films. He never had the decency to call me. We've delivered something special and unique, a film that's not for everybody but has something to say." ...

"Pride and Glory" was screened at CAA headquarters late last week to begin getting word out that it may need a new home, though getting another distributor to pay full price to adopt a $30 million orphan won't be easy. [...]

Members of the cast have also given their thoughts. Ed Norton argues:
[...] "This isn't about New Line not knowing the film is strong; I just think there is a paralysis right now that has to do with much bigger issues than any particular film. We're a victim of the moment, and I just hope they will either find a way to give the film its due or graciously let us do it with someone else." [...]
Colin Farrell and Jon Voight say, respectively:
[...] "This is the first time it's happened to me, where a film I believed in so strongly, not only as entertainment but for its pertinent message and great performances, sits on a shelf. This is bizarre."

"It ain't over till it's over," ... "Obviously, things are going on over there, and I've seen this situation before, where a studio dilemma created hardship for a film of quality. You don't want to put it aside for long, though, because you can lose your momentum." [...]
  • In terms of Pride and Prejudice, the re-showing in America may have come to an end, but thankfully the discussion about it most certainly has not! Jane Austen Today draw our attention to a critique written on the 1995 adaptation printed in Literature Film Quarterly back in 1999. On a less serious note, visit Stardoll if you fancy dressing a virtual Lizzy Bennet and Darcy from a selection of items in the Austen era wardrobe. Alternatively, check out this novel, about a woman with a 'fairly serious addiction' to the 1995 adaptation who ends up at a 'resort' for Janeites called Pembrook Park. See the author's website for more information and Austen-related amusement.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unconditional love for Lizzy

Jennifer Ehle was one of the many actors who attended the opening night party for Unconditional on Monday, at Colors and The Public Theater in New York. These lovely photos are from BroadwayWorld, while WireImage have an additional one. If you want to know about the play itself, see Playbill or this ad by the Labyrinth Theatre Company.

Also, thank you to the reader who let us know about the 'Making Of' feature included on The Russell Girl DVD. A reminder that the DVD can be purchased from Hallmark, or alternatively there are a few copies on Amazon. (Without giving everything away, the blisters in the rosebush scene were not stick-ons!)

Now for the latest in all things Austen:

  • Mercury News talk about adaptations old and new as well as the Jane Austen House Museum in England. There is also some brief quotage from 1995 Pride and Prejudice director Andrew Davies.
  • Lights, Camera...History! have included Lizzy Bennet/Jennifer Ehle in their un-ordered list of Top Ten Historical Heroines. Reminiscent of a similar comment quoted in our last post, they say:
[...] No favorite heroines poll could exist without Lizzy. Her path to love was not easy but she and Darcy were made for each other from the start. How could anyone resist her wit, her intelligent or even her eyes… Jennifer Ehle’s performance is magnificent and sometimes it’s even hard to think that she is not our Lizzie. [...]
[...] Elizabeth is Austen's finest character in what I think is her finest book. And it's not just that Elizabeth is witty, she's got an aggressive, independent, edge to her, though all, of course, within the confines of proper behavior. Again, I'm grateful to writer Andrew Davies, actress Jennifer Ehle, and director Simon Langton for capturing all of that so well. [...]
  • Another writer describes the 1995 adaptation as the 'crème de la crème' of the Complete Jane Austen offerings, but spares a thought for the thousands of American Austenites consequently suffering from sleep deprivation at the moment.

The Masterpiece extravaganza has also reignited the fire of Pride and Prejudice discussion in the blogosphere. Comments made over the last few days from ordinary viewers include:


[...] I was most fascinated by Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth and how she was without a doubt born to play the role of Elizabeth Bennet - the way she captured her was nothing less than astonishing. [...]


[...] As for Jennifer Ehle, she plays Lizzie exactly as she is written in the book - with a sparkling personality, opinions, wit, charm, someone anyone would want for a best friend (never mind Darcy's wife). [...]


[...] Jennifer Ehle really encapsulates Eliza as I picture her, aside from appearing older than 20. [...]

Lastly, in LRN (Loosely-Related News):

So, for Pride and Prejudice-ers in America, it is two down, one to go. Regardless of where you are however, see how many of these apply to you....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

P&P Part II + "studio purgatory"

Make haste, make haste!
What: Pride and Prejudice
When: Sunday, February 17, 9pm (check local listings)
Where: The sofa in front of your TV (USA)
Be there or be square.

If you haven't had your fill of Pride and Prejudice chatter, turn your attention to blogger Annette's thoughtful discourse on the superiority of the BBC production. You know her opinions are to be trusted when she says:

[...] [Jennifer Ehle's] performance makes Lizzy real and down to earth. Her personality comes through so clearly that again, it’s hard to believe that she’s NOT Elizabeth Bennett. The performance has a lot of depth as well. Her anger at the proposal scene is a controlled simmer, not an explosive one, which would have been easier to perform, I’m sure. But this way it’s a more powerful moment. Her eyes are so expressive that you sometimes feel as if you could read her soul.

That’s good acting. [...]

Good acting indeed! As for the realm outside of Pemberley:
  • If you are curious to know when Washington Square was actually recorded, the good folks at silksoundbooks explained to me, "The recording sessions took place in New York in September/October of last year. Editing was done in London shortly afterwards." If you have already listened to the audiobook, pray tell us your thoughts either at the forum or in the shoutbox (located towards the bottom of the side bar).

  • The George Street Playhouse has updated their blog with photos of Rosemary Harris visiting the Bristol Myers Squibb Children's Hospital, which sponsored the (now closed) production of Oscar and the Pink Lady. What a lady!

  • Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, who recently discussed Pride and Glory's postponement (and formed some pre-judgments about the film), received a heartfelt and respectful reply from director Gavin O'Connor. Here is a snippet of O'Connor's response:
    [...] I've been trying to realize this movie for over seven years, and though an amazing experience making the film at New Line, it has now become heartbreaking, watching it get caught up in corporate maneuvering, where bookkeeping seems to take precedent over filmmaking. My film is living in some form of studio purgatory, so it hurts to read negative comments about it before it's ever been released. [...]
  • Things aren't looking good for New Line Cinema. Variety reports on the studio's legal troubles, which are also being discussed at Ben's Daily Movie News.

Oh well, all good things are worth waiting for. In the meantime, enjoy spending time in Regency England tomorrow evening!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pigs, Pennies and Mantras

Greetings all!

  • Firstly today, Heidi Benson of the San Francisco Chronicle talks to a prominent member of the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) about all things Pride and Prejudicial:

First on the agenda are unhappy thoughts about the 2005 version. It seems that the 1995 adaptation not only has Ms Ehle, but has greater historical veracity than its revamped counterpart:

[...] It wasn't the sex in the sexed-up, big-screen version of "Pride & Prejudice" that bothered Virginia Solomon: It was the pig in the parlor. "It was historically and culturally inaccurate ... The filmmakers exaggerated the class difference between Lizzie and her love interest, Mr. Darcy ... They portrayed her as dirt-poor, the daughter of a farmer," she says, and depicted a threadbare Bennett estate, "with peeling paint and battered furniture and pigs running in the house." [...]

The article also gives an insight into the 'other' lives of JASNA members:

[...] On Sunday evening, Solomon, with her husband, William, and son David, all wearing Regency regalia of her design, joined 20 members of the society - who range widely in age (16-80) and background (lawyer, event planner, stay-at-home mom) - in an elegantly appointed meeting room at San Francisco's Four Seasons Hotel, where they sipped tea and viewed on a wide-screen TV the version of "Pride and Prejudice" they favor. ...That would be the Emmy-winning 1995 BBC production, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. [...]

Evidently though there is some Austen overspill into everyday life, as another member explains:

[...] "We have a mantra - WWJD - what would Jane do? ... In tough situations, we can look back at the ethics of a time when honor and loyalty and respect meant something ... Fundamental human relations and morality don't change." [...]

See the rest of the article for quotes by various JASNA members about why they love the Society, why they adore Jane and what indeed they wear for these capital occasions!

For more information, visit some of the JASNA equivalents, such as societies in the UK, Australia and Argentina.

  • If the P&P part of you is still not satisfied, Jane Austen's World have an excellent piece on Pride and Prejudice Economics, complete with currency converted table, which usefully makes Austen figures digestable for us modern readers. (For example, Mr Darcy goes from a man of £10,000 a year to a man of £339,600 a year!) Also see the AustenBlog for some nice glimpses of a P&P first edition.

In terms of other bits and bobs:

  • Variety very briefly report Metrodome's full acquisition of the UK rights to Before the Rains, noting the company is 'eyeing a summer theatrical release'.
  • The lauded series Holocaust (1978) - starring Rosemary Harris as Berta Palitz Weiss - can now be pre-ordered on Amazon. (Region 1 only). It will be released on May 27. Also now available on Region 1 is Alpha Male, to be released by Amazon on March 18.
  • Also rouble-related, eBay have a programme of the 1992 Chichester Festival Theatre production of Breaking The Code, which starred Jennifer Ehle as Pat Green.

In terms of Utopians:

  • The New York Times have an amusing chat with Mr Hamilton and Ms Plimpton about collaborative and independent projects of the past, present and future.
  • TheaterTalk meanwhile have a preview video of their interview with Tom Stoppard, which was broadcast on February 8. The UK Times also converse with Sir Tom on the art of screenwriting. On play-to-film adaptations, he explains:
[...] Many people have asked me to adapt my own plays for film. But one seems to fall between two equally awkward stools: you film the play and end up not satisfied with the film, or to make the film you leave out two thirds of the play, so why make it as a film in the first place? [...]

And, interestingly:

[...] People have often wanted to make The Real Thing into a film, but I’ve resisted because I have no appetite to do it myself and I couldn’t bear to have anyone else do it. [...]

Alright then, Coast of Utopia: The Movie, anyone?! WWJD?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Prepare to swoon, Austen fans..."

...says Robert Bianco of USA Today. He is referring, of course, to the upcoming broadcast of our beloved Pride and Prejudice. Masterpiece Theater will be showing the movie in three parts beginning Sunday, Feb 10 (PBS, 9 ET/PT, USA). Woot! If this is the first time you've heard of this, then you've been living under a giant rock.

As part of "The Complete Jane Austen" hoopla, Masterpiece Theater has arranged for fans to submit questions to screenwriter Andrew Davies:
Masterpiece gives you exclusive access to screenwriter Andrew Davies! Ask Davies your question about any of his adaptations (Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility) featured in The Complete Jane Austen.

Enter your name, e-mail and question below then submit. We'll pick the best questions, and answers will be posted here to coincide with the premiere of Sense and Sensibility March 30, 2008.
Additionally, you can watch video clips of his responses to previous questions. Good stuff!

Also in honor of the event, Jane Austen's World has put together some "Fun Facts." Note that a certain blog is mentioned in reference to a certain Interview.

Laurel Ann of the Janites on the James blog hilariously comments on "The Men of Austen" poll going on over at the Masterpiece Theater website:
I'm having a good giggle from reading the results of the 'The Men of Austen' poll...Darcy still rules, and John Thorpe drools! Ha! I am just amazed that the drippy Mr. Collins is seventh in the poll out of a possible 16 candidates! Really, Janeites, have you all gone all Charlotte Lucas on me? [...]
I am just amazed by the 46,514 votes that this is based upon. Speaking of 'the men of Austen'...lookie, there is now a Colin Firth fan blog. Is this the yin to our yang?

Moving away from Pride and are a few links to information about Washington Square, the novel that Jennifer Ehle has recorded with Silk Sound Books:
  • The Literature Network has a bio of the author, Henry James, as well as a summary of the novel.
  • Classic Notes includes a discussion of themes, characters, etc. in addition to a detailed plot synopsis, which has been divided according to chapters.
  • There is a review of the novel at Blog Critics.
  • Bookrags provides us with this interesting detail:
    [...] The book is often compared to Jane Austen's work for the clarity and grace of its prose and its intense focus on family relationships. James was hardly a great admirer of Jane Austen, so he might not have regarded the comparison as flattering. [...]
  • And, Washington Square has its very own fansite.

Lastly, here are a few loosely related links:

  • It has been announced that Richard Easton will play Polonius in the Public Theater's upcoming production of Hamlet, which will run from May 27 through June 29 at the Delacorte Theatre. See Variety and for more information. (It seems that Shakespeare in the Park is a popular venue for Utopians!)
  • According to Playbill, Rosemary Harris is slated to take part in a gala honoring another Ms Harris -- Julie Harris. Julie Harris will be honored by The Actors Company Theatre on March 3 at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan.
  • And, attention aspiring actors: the Actor Nation blog claims that Rosemary Harris recommends the book How to be a Working Actor, available for sale at

Happy fine eyes-gazing on Sunday night, P&Pers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fancy a bedtime story?!

  • Firstly, if you like Henry James, you may be interested to know that Silk Sound Books are selling an audiobook of Washington by Jennifer Ehle! (Thanks to the person who let us know). Click the link to listen to a nice little clip. From that page you can also purchase the 6hr 55min audiobook for £7.95. Here is their synopsis of the story:
[...] Washington Square: The battle between a father and a daughter is usually portrayed in literature as a struggle between a headstrong but feisty girl and a tradition-bound lead weight of a father. Henry James of course had to do it somewhat differently. He tells a story of an intelligent man riding the turn of the tide in mid-nineteenth century New York, and watching what he sees as his numbingly dull and conventional daughter making the mistake of her life in her choice of husband. The fight between these two delicious characters makes this one of James’ funniest and most enjoyable of novels, with the suspense carried right up until the last page as to how the contest will end. [...]

A reminder that Ms Ehle also completed audiobooks for Witch Child and The Tempest in 2001. (Follow the links to go to their respective pages on Amazon).

  • Secondly, there is some more information regarding the Pride and Glory postponement to 2009.

The Huffington Post attribute the delay to recently-released The Golden Compass and quote Colin Farrell as saying:

[...] They pushed it just now to 2009. ... There's this rumor going around that it's because it's a...bad film. I feel the need to kind of speak up, not from my own end but genuinely for Gavin O'Connor because he wrote and directed it. It's just a really really strong piece, but I think New Line lost the b******s on "The Golden Compass," ... and they literally don't have enough money to market things.

"Pride" is a tricky one to market anyways. It's pretty dark... Gavin did a great job and you know, Jon Voight is brilliant in it, and Ed [Norton] is great in it and [it has] a really strong cast of supporting characters... It's a really strong piece." [...]

Hollywood Elsewhere give a slightly less favourable input into the debate.

  • Next, Utopian Richard Easton's Downstage Center interview is now online. Regarding the read-before-you-see debate that arose around The Coast of Utopia, he says:
[...] It was criminal what they did over Utopia - it was absolute nonsense. People were constantly saying 'I don't know if I'll be...' and I was saying 'For Heavens' sake'; ... it just enrages me, and the unfortunate publicity about it... Tom [Stoppard] started life as a journalist - he is totally a communicator, and a passer-on [...]

Discussion relating to his collaboration with Rosemary Harris and Ellis Rabb is 19 minutes in. Easton describes the former's acting at the time as 'wonderful'.

On the subject of offering advice to younger artists:

[...] I've become quite famous for this... In the cast of Utopia, there were quite a few ex students of mine...and they were talking to Plimpton...and saying that when Richard left, he left this 'Advice to Young Actors' packet...and she said what is this thing? So I dug it out and gave it to her and she had copies made... It was things like 'always be polite to the wardrobe', because that's where all the talk is...'remember that the...backstage belongs to the stagehands - not to you'...they keep the job - you're just here for this...and 'be on time, be early'...'make sure you can be heard' and...'get the laughs' [...]

On acting in The Coast of Utopia:

[...] A lot of the kids in Utopia had never done rep...and a lot of them...the joy they experienced when we added the second play - particularly if they were playing different parts. They thought 'Oh, I get it - I don't have to do it all in the first play. I can do just the character. And in the second play, I can do just that character' [...]

On the famous marathons:

[...] It was wonderful when we did those marathons - with all three in one day. They were sensational. The first play, 11 in the morning, packed of course, with people who were so proud to be there...they had got their powerbars in their socks and all that and they were just so keen! I had the first scene basically, and they laughed at everything I said - it was wonderful! In the second play they got a little tired as they wished they hadn't had that second glass of wine at lunch, but by the end...they went mad...they stood and was so exciting for us. [...]

On scenes and dialogue:

[...] It was only really difficult for Brian O'Byrne...he talked the whole time, he was wonderful, but he was the only person really who suffered. ... Ethan [Hawke] had the wonderful thing of getting into a fat suit and having his teeth blacked out and playing the 'old' him, which he so relished, and that gave him an enormous zip of energy for the end. But Billy [Crudup] wasn't even in it! ... It was amazing - a wonderful experience. [...]

Elsewhere in the news:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

More about Mrs. Morrissey

First off, in case you didn't see this in the shoutbox, LTC has kindly alerted us to this profile of George Clooney at Entertainment Weekly. Clooney attempts to explain why Jennifer Ehle's role was cut from Michael Clayton:
Clooney's divorced ''fixer'' character originally had a girlfriend. ''We shot it with Jennifer Ehle — she gave a wonderful performance,'' says Clooney. ''And the more we did it, we realized you have to isolate this character more. And having a girlfriend, he's not in as much trouble.'' Clooney wrote Ehle a note to apologize: ''I didn't cut it, but I still feel bad about it.''
More entries about The Russell Girl can be found floating around the blogosphere:
  • Jackie found herself dissolved in tears for most of the movie and was a victim of the she-must-be-Meryl-Streep's-daughter phenomenon.
  • Matt wrote a thorough review and thought that Lorraine was "well played by Jennifer Ehle."
  • Marilyn thought the movie was "pretty good," but didn't care for Ms. Ehle's character, Lorraine.
  • Herbie claimed that The Russell Girl restored his faith in television and that Jennifer Ehle and Henry Czerny gave "solid parental performances." (He too fell victim to the aforementioned phenomenon).
  • As the voice of opposition, Tivo Lady thought the movie was too "sappy."
  • In case you're interested, some of the folks at IMDb have been chewing the fat about The Russell Girl. And, please feel free to post any of your thoughts about the movie at our forum, where there is a separate thread entitled "That Russell Girl."

Here's another review of The Russell Girl from the Boston Globe (albeit a negative one) that we missed earlier.

Just a few more (slightly peripheral) items to add:

  • The George Street Playhouse blog has a new entry about Rosemary Harris and her play, Oscar and the Pink Lady, which will run until Feb 10. (Only one more week left; get there if you can!)
  • NJGUY has suggested a possible mother-daughter project for Ms. Ehle and Ms. Harris, which has fueled some discussion over at All That Chat.
  • The Soundtrack Geek blog mentions Mark Isham, the composer for Pride and Glory, and says, "Now the question is whether it is a 2008 movie anymore as LA Times reported that it had been decided for a 2009 release date." That is the question indeed.
  • According to Playbill, Richard Easton was on XM Radio's "Downstage Center" yesterday evening. The interview will soon be available online at the American Theater Wing's website.
  • Finally, Bridget Byrne of the Associated Press discusses Masterpiece Theater's Jane Austen mania. This Sunday (Feb 3), they'll be taking a break from the works of Ms. Austen in order to talk about the lady herself in the new semi-documentary "Miss Austen Regrets." describes it as such:
    [...] Based on the life and letters of Jane Austen, Miss Austen Regrets tells the story of the novelist's final years, examining why, despite setting the standard for romantic fiction, she died having never married or met her own Mr. Darcy.
    You can watch a preview of the show at (Remember that next Sunday is...drum roll please...Pride and Prejudice!)