Marilyn and Arthur: Artists in Love

The Millers at the April In Paris Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, NYC, 1957

My review of Artists In Love: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, part of a 2016 documentary series for the Sky Arts satellite channel and presented by the British actress Samantha Morton (who played an MM impersonator in the 2009 film, Mister Lonely), is published today at Immortal Marilyn.

 

‘Red Dwarf’: Marilyn in the Pop Future

Pauline Bailey as Marilyn in ‘Red Dwarf’

Over at Den of Geek, Andrew Moir takes a closer look at the many pop culture references to be found in long-running UK sci-fi sitcom, Red Dwarf – including several appearances from Marilyn (as played by impersonator Pauline Bailey, who recalls the experience here.)

“Marilyn Monroe’s star continues to shine, appearing in three different episodes in series II, III and IV. She first pops up in series 2 opener Kryten as a poster on Lister’s locker, showing she’s a recognisable part of the world. She then makes an appearance later in the series as a computer sprite in the game Better Than Life. She’d be back the next year in the form of an unconvincing kit droid for The Last Day, and again in series IV as one of the rebellious droids on Wax World.”

Marilyn’s Spirit Lingers in ‘Ray Donovan’

Marilyn plays a recurring, symbolic role in Ray Donovan, the Showtime series starring Liev Schreiber as a troubled Hollywood fixer. Her haunting presence is prominent in a recent instalment (Series 5, Episode 9, ‘Mister Luck’), as Brian Tallerico reports for Vulture. Samantha Winslow, the studio boss who enlists Ray’s services,  is played by Susan Sarandon – who starred as Gladys in Lifetime’s 2015 mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe – while Ray pursues a doomed romance with actress Natalie James (Lili Simmons), who suffers a fate not unlike Marilyn’s.

“The image of Marilyn Monroe’s garbage-strewn star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame could serve as a poster for Ray Donovan, a show about the people who clean the trash off the world’s most image-conscious people. While Ray’s journey to the dark side of Hollywood results in the death of someone close to him in ‘Mister Lucky,’ the entire Donovan clan is spiraling out of control.

Chronologically, the episode takes place months after the death of Abby Donovan, so it’s interesting that the structure of the season placed it right after the flashback episode in which we saw her die. All of the Donovans seem unmoored, slipping into their worst habits and flirting with violence. Abby was the rock of this group, and they are now adrift without her.

We pick up where ‘Horses’ ended: Terry just revealed that he helped Abby take her life and Ray knocked him to the floor. Ray pours a drink and then takes the bottle to a booth as Terry gets to his feet … After the encounter with his brother, Ray thinks he sees Abby walking down the street. He follows her to Marilyn Monroe’s star. He pays a male escort nearby to keep it clean …

A series of minor beats follow: Bridget and her dying boyfriend, Ray looking at a Marilyn Monroe painting in his apartment … The next major event comes when Ray gets a call from Lena to turn on the TV. A TMZ-esque show called Stalkerazzi has footage of Natalie and Ray together. Their affair is out in the open, and Natalie’s ex is watching the story in a bar … Most important, Ray gets to work with Natalie and she wonders if they can go public now. Natalie seems to be reaching out to Ray and he doesn’t see it. Given the episode’s tragic end, one wonders if she could have been saved if Ray simply paid attention.

While his father is having his own sexual adventure, Ray stops by a club called the Fist, where Lena discovered George has been hiding. It’s an underground gay sex club, and Ray finds George sitting in the front row for a show (which happens to co-star the escort in front of Marilyn’s star). George tells Ray that he’d make an excellent James Bond and then tells stories about Marilyn and Cary Grant.

Violence marks the end of ‘Mister Lucky’ … Ray comes back to the apartment to find Natalie’s ex on the pavement. He rushes upstairs and sees the aftermath of what looks like a murder-suicide. Natalie’s strangled corpse is on the bed. Another woman in Ray Donovan’s life has died.”

Thanks to Carl Rollyson

‘Norma Jean and Marilyn’ Stars Speak Out On Abuse

Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, who both starred in the 1996 HBO biopic, Norma Jean and Marilyn, have both spoken out recently about sexual abuse in Hollywood. While this rather inaccurate and sensationalist TV movie isn’t highly regarded by fans (and seems unconnected to the incidents in question), it’s both inspiring and poignant to see these brave women come forward about experiences not dissimilar to Marilyn’s.

Lady Gaga on Pain, Fame and Marilyn

Pop star Lady Gaga has often referenced Marilyn in her work, sometimes with insight and sympathy (as in her past interviews with Vanity Fair and Google, and her ‘Dance in the Dark‘ lyric, ‘Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia/Tell ’em how you feel girls!’) At other times, however, she has depicted MM in a shallow, even crass manner (her ‘Government Hooker‘ song and ‘Do What U Want‘ video.) While she has also experienced the dark side of fame at first hand, her knowledge of Marilyn’s life and character seems rather limited.

Nonetheless, her latest comments about Marilyn – and other stars who died before their time – are quite intriguing, as Olivia Truffaut-Wong reports on the new Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, for Bustle.

“Speaking in her new documentary, Lady Gaga reveals that her wacky fashion choices come out of a desire for control in an industry that loves to take control away from its artists … ‘What I’ve done is that when they wanted me to be sexy or they wanted me to be pop, I always f*cking put some absurd spin on it that made me feel like I’m still in control,’ she says.

In the film, Gaga opens up about how the music industry and Hollywood treats women, particularly how men in positions of power, producers for example, think that female artists are there for their entertainment. ‘That’s not why I’m here. I’m not a receptacle for your pain,’ she says. ‘I’m not just a place for you to put it.’

To counteract those expectations of what a pop star should look like Gaga explains how she decided to show ugliness in fame while performing. ‘If I’m gonna be sexy on the VMAs and sing about the paparazzi,’ she says, ‘I’m gonna do it while I’m bleeding to death and reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe, the original Norma Jean, and what it did to Anna Nicole Smith.'”

Marilyn Through the Eye of Magnum

Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, a new documentary about the legendary photo agency, will be screened for the first time in the UK tonight at 10pm on BBC4. This image, captured by Ernst Haas, shows fellow Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt among the cast and crew of The Misfits.

The Misfits was a pivotal moment in photographers’ relationship with cinema. Lee Jones, Magnum’s head of special projects in New York, decided that the film’s dream cast deserved special attention. Nine different photographers took turns over 3 months of the shoot to capture the ‘total chaos’ on what would be Marilyn Monroe’s last film.

Eve Arnold, Magnum’s first woman member, was Monroe’s trusted collaborator. Having previously worked with Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, she started photographing Monroe when they were both relatively unknown. She spent two months on the set of the John Huston movie.

Photographer Bruce Davidson remarked, ‘Marilyn is really in torment – this was the movie where it all collapsed. And the hidden homosexuality, total neurosis, drugs, the whole works (on set). This film is a turning point, and the photographs document the disintegration of a system.’

Clark Gable had a heart attack the day after filming wrapped on The Misfits and died a few days later.”

Thanks to Nikki at Marilyn Remembered

Movie Greats: Barry Norman on Marilyn

Barry Norman, the British critic who fronted a weekly film show on BBC television from 1972-1998, has died aged 83. In the late 1970s, he wrote and presented The Hollywood Greats, a documentary series profiling legendary stars. An episode about Marilyn, featuring interviews with Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder and Eli Wallach, and many others, was broadcast in 1979 – you can watch it here.

He also wrote two books accompanying the series. The latter volume, The Movie Greats (1981), includes a chapter about Marilyn.

“What she most certainly was, and what she proved herself to be time and again, was a most wonderfully gifted comedienne, a woman whose contribution of abundant physical charms – a positive cornucopia of femininity – and wistful shyness made you at once want to laugh at her and protect her. Nobody since has come even remotely close to replacing her.

If only, you think, if only someone had given her a great big hug when she was still a little girl and said, ‘Hey, listen, I love you,’ then maybe everything would have been different. But in that case she would probably never have become Marilyn Monroe and the world would have been the poorer for it because Marilyn Monroe was something rather special.

You can take every possible identifiable ingredient that she had and put them together and multiply them and add in the date and the number you first thought of and at the end of it all you’ve got is a blonde, a small girl with a sweet face and a remarkably voluptuous body. But you still haven’t got another Marilyn Monroe.”

‘Bombshell’ Headed for Broadway

After a hugely popular, one-off benefit performance in 2015, plans to bring Bombshell – the fictitious Marilyn musical from NBC’s Smash – to Broadway for real are now taking shape, as Greg Braxton reports for the L.A. Times.

“Craig Zaden and Neil Meron, the award-winning producing team behind the Oscar-winning Chicago and NBC’s live versions of The Sound of Music and The Wiz, are joining forces with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Green late for the project, with an opening date yet to be determined. Greenblatt has extensive Broadway experience, producing the musicals Something Rotten! and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.

Created by Theresa Rebeck, who also served as showrunner, Smash premiered in 2012 to critical praise. The Times’ Mary McNamara called it a ‘triumph.’ But after a strong start, the series ran into rough creative waters, including exaggerated side plots and strange song breaks. Ratings fell. When Smash returned for its second season, Rebeck and a number of characters were gone. But Smash still was canceled.

The appetite for the show has never died, Zaden said, and has found new life on Netflix. ‘It’s more popular now than when it was on the air.'”