Michelle Williams Goes From Marilyn to Gwen

My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about her time in England, returns to Netflix today. Michelle Williams, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Marilyn, is currently starring choreographer Gwen Verdon in the HBO series, Fosse/Verdon. Born in Culver City, California in 1925, she married journalist James Henaghan in 1942, but left him after the birth of their son Jimmy. (Henaghan later interviewed Marilyn on several occasions, and wrote a tribute to her for Parade magazine in 1971, which you can read here.)

Verdon later worked as an assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, coaching stars like Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Marilyn (seen above with Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and rehearsing for There’s No Business Like Show Business.) In 1953, Verdon starred in the Broadway production of Can-Can, winning her first Tony award. (Marilyn would later be offered the lead in Fox’s big-screen adaptation, but the role was ultimately played by Shirley MacLaine.)

In June 1955, Marilyn saw Gwen performing in her latest hit musical, Damn Yankees, at the 46th Street Theatre. Gwen returned to Hollywood in 1958 to film the movie version. She married choreographer Bob Fosse in 1960, and returned to Broadway in Sweet Charity (1966.) Although she and Fosse separated in 1971, they never divorced and continued working together on Chicago (1975), and the 1979 movie, All That Jazz. She also appeared in films like The Cotton Club (1984) Cocoon (1985) Alice (1990), and Marvin’s Room (1996.)

In 1999, Gwen was the artistic consultant on Fosse, a Broadway musical tribute to her former partner, who had died in 1987. Gwen Verdon passed away in her sleep at the home of their daughter Nicole Fosse in Woodstock, Vermont in October 18, 2000. That night at 8 pm, Broadway dimmed its lights in her honour.

Alexa Bliss Inspired By Marilyn

WWE star Alexa Bliss reveals how Marilyn inspired her feisty persona in a new interview for Sports Illustrated.

“In the moments leading up to WrestleMania 35, where she served as the show’s host, witnesses caught Bliss pacing furiously in the backstage areas of MetLife Stadium. For those who were unaware, there was a transformation taking place: the kindhearted Alexis Kaufman was no more, replaced by the conniving Alexa Bliss.

‘I love Marilyn Monroe,’ said Kaufman, who is known on a worldwide scale as Bliss. ‘And there is a scene in My Week with Marilyn where she is this shy, timid person. Then she turns to the guy next to her and asks, “Do you want to see me be her?” So she turns into Marilyn and her entire demeanor changes—and everyone recognizes her. That’s what I think of Alexa Bliss: she is not me, she is the complete opposite of me.’

Bliss has the biggest heart in WWE but plays the cruelest character.

‘I love portraying a bad guy,’ said Bliss. ‘I can go the extra mile with all the creativity. Plus, you can expect a lot of sass …'”

Marilyn Biopic Producer Accuses Harvey Weinstein

David Parfitt, producer of My Week With Marilyn (2011) has accused Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul whose company distributed the film, of assault, in Working With Weinstein, a new documentary to be aired on British television tonight, as Peter White reports for Deadline.

“‘When we actually got through the main shoot and into the test, he decided it wasn’t enough Marilyn’s film and that he wanted more Marilyn,’ Parfitt said in the documentary. ‘The scores came in at the end of the test and they were very good, and I think he’d expected it to be not good. In his fury about it doing so well when he thought it wouldn’t, he physically assaulted me. We were talking at the back of the theater after the audience had left, but the Miramax crowd were around, and he pinned me up against a Coke machine and threatened all sorts of stuff. It was very scary. But he was just furious that the film in our version had worked.’

A spokeswoman released the following statement on behalf of Harvey Weinstein.

“Mr. Weinstein categorically denies Mr. Parfitt’s claims as provably untrue and outrageous fiction. Mr. Parfitt and Mr. Weinstein had creative differences and any conflict between them was solely over their different visions for the film. While they had a series of spirited arguments where Mr. Weinstein made a lot of stupid remarks that he wishes he could take back, nothing physical happened.

The original version that Mr. Parfitt screened, didn’t include the musical numbers that Mr. Weinstein fought and personally financed to have included in the award winning film. In David Parfitt’s version, the movie felt like an ensemble piece. With Simon Curtis and Harvey Weinstein putting in the musical numbers, it felt like a Marilyn Monroe story.

Michelle Williams won the golden globe for her performance in the best musical comedy category and everyone that was associated with the movie, who saw it with the musical numbers, liked it better.'”

Movie Magic: Marilyn at Pinewood

Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl.’ (Photo by Milton H. Greene)

With the opening of the BFI retrospective, there has been much talk of Marilyn in the UK media this week. There was a discussion of Marilyn’s business acumen on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday; you can listen again here.

On BBC2 tonight at 9 pm, Jonathan Ross presents an hour-long documentary, Pinewood: 80 Years of Movie Magic. As Marilyn filmed The Prince and the Showgirl at the legendary English studio in 1956, it is followed at 10:30 pm by a screening of My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about the offscreen battles between Marilyn and her co-star, Sir Laurence Olivier, starring Michelle Williams and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

Kenny Kingston: Psychic to the Stars

Kenny Kingston shows off his framed photos of Marilyn and Clifton Webb, 1970s

Self-proclaimed ‘Psychic to the Stars’ Kenny Kingston has died aged 87, reports the the Los Angeles Times. Kingston claimed that Marilyn first visited him in 1953, on the advice of her friend, actor Clifton Webb. She got out of a cab five blocks from his home and walked the rest of the way, explaining, ‘I didn’t want your reputation spoiled.’ Kingston said that they remained friends until her death – and long afterward…

According to Kingston, Marilyn’s spirit was reunited with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio following his death in 1999. During filming of My Week With Marilyn in 2011, the celebrity psychic told Yahoo Voices that MM contacted him from beyond the grave to express her approval of actress Michelle Williams.

Marilyn in Princeton

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death, the Princeton Public Library will be screening four movies over the next week: The Prince and The Showgirl (4pm) and My Week With Marilyn (7pm, both August 3rd); The Misfits (4pm, August 4); and on August 5, ‘MM: The Never-Ending Dream’, a lecture by Paul Sofian, at 3pm, followed by Some Like it Hot at 4pm.

Marilyn’s Week in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Filmhouse will screen several Monroe movies in August: Niagara and Some Like it Hot (on the 5th); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (6th); The Misfits (7th); Monkey Business (8th); The Asphalt Jungle (9th); last year’s biopic, My Week With Marilyn (10th); All About Eve and The Prince and the Showgirl (11th.)

Larry Schiller: Writing About Marilyn

Lawrence Schiller spoke to the Wall Street Journal recently about his two new books on Marilyn…

“Last summer in June I saw the ads and the Michelle Williams story in Vanity Fair on ‘My Week With Marilyn.’ There’s no question that that triggered, in my mind, the fact that one year later was going to be the 50thanniversary of her death. I did not go see the movie; I did not read any of the articles because I experienced the real person myself.

I’ve written five books, but I’ve never written a book that way. I’ve never written with my own voice, looked at the warts on my own face. In writing the autobiography, I was going to look at myself warts and all.

I was giving you a view of Marilyn that had never been given before. I wasn’t giving you my opinions, I was giving something people had never experienced before. And as much as you can be Marilyn-ed out or The Beatles-out or Elvis Presley-out, there’s always room for something fresh.”

UPDATE: You can also watch a video interview with Larry Schiller, here.

‘Nobody Else But You’ in America

Another positive review for the French-made Nobody Else But You – a comedy thriller about a Monroe wannabe, currently on limited release in the US – from Entertainment Weekly. (Is it just me, or does this sound better than My Week With Marilyn?)

“In this particularly droll and satisfying French murder mystery set in an unusually, almost hilariously cold and snowy corner of France, a local starlet famous for her cheese ads (Sophie Quinton) turns up dead. This piques the interest of a crime novelist (Jean-Paul Rouve) who happens to be in the area. Her intense identification with Marilyn Monroe intrigues him even more. Writer-director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu sustains a fresh voice influenced by the Coen brothers and the infernal snow of FargoA-“