Steinem’s Marilyn on Kindle

Marilyn: Norma Jeane, the bestselling 1988 collaboration between feminist author Gloria Steinem and photographer George Barris, has been reissued for Kindle and other ebook formats by Open Road Publishing.

While I don’t know how many photos are featured in this edition, and Steinem’s take on Marilyn’s life has proved somewhat controversial, it remains one of the most influential texts about her and is well worth a look.

Variety Reviews ‘Love, Marilyn’

Marilyn on Person to Person, 1955

Variety has reviewed Love, Marilyn, giving us a fuller picture of the cast and materials. (David Strathairn as Arthur Miller is surely inspired casting!)

“With: F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Jack Huston, Stephen Lang, Lindsay Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Marisa Tomei, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Lois Banner, George Barris, Patricia Bosworth, Sarah Churchwell, Amy Greene, Molly Haskell, Jay Kanter, Richard Meryman, Thomas Schatz, Donald Spoto.

Two unearthed boxes of diary entries, letters and whatnot (some of which were published in 2010 as Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe) provide the novelty and appeal to what would otherwise be a standard life-overview. The erstwhile Norma Jean Baker’s awful childhood, her stormy marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, the paralyzing effects of her insecurities on film shoots, her problematic alliance with the Actors Studio, her pill consumption, et al., all constitute familiar terrain that makes Love, Marilyn seem redundant at times.

The first-person testimonies are more interesting, from archival clips of Susan Strasberg, John Huston, Joshua Logan, Jane Russell, Laurence Olivier and others to excerpts from memoirs and other writings by one of her many shrinks (read by F. Murray Abraham), Miller (David Strathairn), and analysts Gloria Steinem (Hope Davis) and Norman Mailer (Ben Foster), among others. Particularly flavorful are Oliver Platt and Paul Giamatti as Billy Wilder and George Cukor, respectively, both recalling their exasperation working with the hypersensitive box office sensation. There are also present-tense interviews with biographers, critics, Actors Studio contemporary Ellen Burstyn, and close non-celebrity friend Amy Greene (who shares some salty thoughts on Marilyn’s husbands).

While there’s no question Garbus has recruited first-rate talent to pay homage here, some of the most impressive names prove heavy-handed or simply miscast in attempting to channel the love goddess’s fragile spirit; moreover, having them act against green-screened archival materials has a tacky, pop-up televisual feel. Probably most effective in their straightforward readings are Jennifer Ehle, who gets a fair amount of screentime, and (perhaps surprisingly) Lindsay Lohan, who does not.

Limiting clips from predictable movie highlights, and skipping over several well-known titles entirely, the pic tries to emphasize lesser-known materials, including numerous candid photos, behind-the-scenes footage, and one uncomfortable live appearance on TV’s Person to Person.”

Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe

The Reelz Channel in the US has just announced a new documentary, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe, to premiere on Friday, August 3rd.

“Hosted by television personality Dayna Devon, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe explores the continued and unrelenting popularity of the woman who wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously as an actress. We’ll talk to the stars of the hit television series Smash, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, whose characters are vying to be the lead in a Broadway musical based on Monroe’s life as well as Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams, who played Monroe in My Week With Marilyn about Monroe’s enduring legacy.

Fellow Hollywood icons George Hamilton and Mitzi Gaynor – Monroe’s co-star in There’s No Business Like Show Business – reveal the personal side of the woman they knew. Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe also takes a look at Monroe’s rise to sex symbol, including candid interviews with Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who discusses how Monroe’s nude photos helped launch his empire and catapult Monroe to superstar status. Also featured are interviews with photographers Lawrence Schiller and George Barris who share their personal stories of working with Monroe, including the story behind her last ever photo shoot.”

CMG Sue Over MM Image Rights

CMG Worldwide – who managed licensing rights for Marilyn’s image until 2010 – are at loggerheads with her estate, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“When the Monroe estate terminated its relationship with CMG, the parties allegedly reached a deal whereby CMG would return certain assets, including the Monroe website and Facebook page, for a cash payout.

The following year, CMG sued the estate to enforce the terms of the termination agreement. The case settled.

Neither the termination deal nor the settlement agreement is said to have addressed CMG’s representation of One-West Publishing (regarding the copyright ownership of photos by Andre de Dienes and George Barris.) CMG believes that it is permitted to carry on its work there so as to recoup its expenses to settle the One-West litigation.

This month, CMG got a cease-and-desist letter from the Monroe estate over its licensing and display of Marilyn Monroe products and services.

On Wednesday, in a very odd twist, CMG filed a new lawsuit against the Monroe estate in New York federal court, seeking a ruling that it hasn’t done anything wrong with Monroe’s likeness.”

Pop Artist Richard Hamilton Dies

The British artist, Richard Hamilton, has died aged 89. One of his most famous works was ‘My Marilyn’ (1966), one of the few pop art pieces that succeeds in showing Marilyn as a human being as well as an icon.

“In ‘My Marilyn’, Hamilton takes as his source material George Barris’ colour photographs of Marilyn Monroe published after her death. Hamilton wrote: ‘M.M. demanded that the results of the photographic sessions be submitted to her for vetting before publication. She made indications, brutally and beautifully in conflict with the image, or on proofs and transparencies to give approval or reject, or suggestions for retouching that might make it acceptable.’ From these photographs Hamilton produced a series of black and white enlargements in three formats which he arranged as a collage for the first photographic screen for the print. This was used as the basis of a series of further manipulations for different versions. Hamilton preserved Marilyn’s own marks of approval or rejection, commenting that ‘The aggressive obliteration of her own image has a self-destructive implication that her death made all the more poignant: there is also a fortuitous narcissism, for the negating cross is also the childish symbol for a kiss.’ “

George Barris to Attend Marilyn’s Birthday Exhibition

George Barris, one of Marilyn’s last photographers, will appear at the opening night of ‘Happy Birthday Marilyn’ at the Andrew Weiss Gallery, Los Angeles, on June 1st.

“These photographs are very dear and personal to me. Marilyn was much more than a photography subject, she was a friend. She had an inner light that comes through in her images, even many years later, and I am pleased to work with the Andrew Weiss Gallery to share my experience of Marilyn with her fans and the public.”

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