She looks divine!
From YouTube, by ABCTheView, on July 28, 2009
Jessica Lange—The View
Jessica Lange tells the ladies what it was like wearing prosthetics and working with live animals in "Grey Gardens."
She looks divine!
From YouTube, by ABCTheView, on July 28, 2009
Jessica Lange—The View
Jessica Lange tells the ladies what it was like wearing prosthetics and working with live animals in "Grey Gardens."
I'm not sure how I feel about this yet, but, at the very least, it'll be fun!
From Daytime Confidential, by Jamey Giddens, on July 27, 2009
From La Boulaie to Grey Gardens on One Life to Live
You won't wanna miss the August 3 episode of One Life to Live, when Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati transform La Boulaie into Grey Gardens! When Blair (Kassie DePaiva) starts to worry neither she nor her meddling Aunt Dorian (Robin Strasser) will ever find love again, she imagines what life could end up like for the pair, envisioning a tragically-comic scenario inspired by Grey Gardens, the documentary and later HBO telepic about a mother/daughter pair of Bouvier relations of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who end up living in a rundown mansion after exhausting their trust funds. Isn't it inspiring how OLTL manages to continue to put out a top quality, visually appealing, creative product even in the throes of a recession?
Needless to say: I'm so jealous!
Where will Frances Hayward be moving, I wonder...
From WWD, on July 27, 2009
Manhattan Socials Move Into Grey Gardens
Grey Gardens is getting new tenants. Starting in September, Boykin Curry and Celerie Kemble, along with their children, Rascal and Zinnia, will be taking on a five-year lease for the iconic East Hampton estate. “I can’t think of a more perfect fit,” says Sally Quinn, who owns the property with her husband, Ben Bradlee. Ever since the couple bought Grey Gardens from Little Edie Beale in 1979, they have rented it out, save for the month of August when they use the home. The last inhabitants, Quinn said, lived there for 12 years. Curry and Kemble’s five-year contract is the lengthiest that’s been issued. Neither party disclosed the rental price, but in May it was rumored Quinn and Bradlee were asking $30,000 for Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 alone.
“I don’t think of myself as a Hamptons person,” admits Kemble, who typically spends summer weekends at her family homes in the Adirondacks and Palm Beach. “But Boykin was able to convince me, even sight unseen, that this house was truly an oasis. It’s like a secret garden.” And as an interior decorator, she couldn’t wish for more. “I believe a house should have personality, and Grey Gardens is one of the greatest and most graceful of characters I can imagine out there,” Kemble says.
From The World According to Jessica Claire, by Jessica Claire, on July 20, 2009
Partners & Spade
But my favourite part of the space by far was the temporary display heralding a book written by the progeny of the Maysles brothers, the documentary filmmakers who shot Grey Gardens in the 1970s.
Wonderful work, Donald!
By Donald Urquhart
Grey Gardens Alphabet showing in NY
I have a tryptych Grey Gardens picture alphabet on display in a group gallery show in New York at Salon 94, 1 Freemans Alley, Lower East Side. The show is related to Andy Warhol's concept of stardom (opens 23rd July, closes 20th August). I'm sure any Grey Gardens fans in the area will be interested. I have had complaints: "M should be for Marble Faun!" (I decided to make M for Maysles). T is for "Tea For Two", A is for "Around the World", etc. I had to muster up some imagination to cope with the more difficult letters like Q, Z, and V.
I love her answer to why Grey Gardens has so many gay fans!
From Xtra, by Matthew Hays, on July 20, 2009
Lesbian filmmaker receives an Emmy nod for Grey Gardens screenplay
Patricia Rozema talks about her work, the film's gay following, and the future of indie cinema
When it premiered in 1975, the documentary Grey Gardens immediately set off a storm of controversy. Created by the fraternal directing team of David and Albert Maysles, the feature profiled a mother and daughter, 80-something Big Edie and 50-something Little Edie, who were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two women had become notorious in their wealthy Long Island neighbourhood, because the mansion they lived in, Grey Gardens, was collapsing into ruin. Big Edie and Little Edie had once been wealthy, erudite aristocrats, and were now living in squalor, in a raccoon- and cat-infested house that the local authorities were trying to have condemned.
While some accused the Maysles brothers of exploitation, Grey Gardens quickly gained a cult following among gay men, who saw in the damaged-but-resilient Little Edie a character of strength and defiance. Some pointed to the eerie parallels to the work of Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill, or even Sunset Boulevard, that the film evoked.
Grey Gardens has inspired a veritable cottage industry of spin-offs, with its cult status largely going mainstream. In 2006, several gay men created a stage musical based on the film and its two central characters, which would win several Tony Awards (including best play). Queer crooner Rufus Wainwright wrote a song inspired by the film. And in April, HBO broadcast its made-for-TV movie, directed by gay filmmaker Michael Sucsy and written by Sucsy and Toronto-based lesbian filmmaker Patricia Rozema. The film leaps between the '30s, when Little Edie was a gorgeous young debutante, and the '70s, when the two women are invited by the Maysles to be in their film. The performances are exquisite in their mimicry, with Drew Barrymore playing Little Edie and Jessica Lange playing Big Edie. Rozema, of course, is one of Canada's most successful independent filmmakers, having made two landmark lesbian films, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing and When Night Is Falling, both of which were international hits.
Rozema spoke to Xtra.ca about Grey Gardens from her home in Toronto, just as the film came out on DVD and the news arrived that it had received 17 Emmy nominations, including a nod to Rozema and Sucsy for their screenplay.
Do you remember the first time you saw the original Grey Gardens?
Very clearly. I was in the Rivoli [a Toronto repertory cinema]. I was new enough in Toronto that I didn't have a lot of friends. I was working at [CBC news program] The Journal. I was startled. I felt like I'd seen something dangerous. Too unkind to Little Edie, it felt. She was revealing herself to be quite a lost soul, and we were taking delight in it. But she did take delight and that's what's so mesmerizing about it. She wants us to look at her. That conflict was really exciting. At the time I was a journalist. So it raised the question: do you let people self-exploit?
So the question of exploitation was paramount from the get-go.
Oh yes, but also affection for these people. A little bit of fear too. Could it really get there? Could I not care enough to let it get to that? They closed off rooms so they wouldn't have to clean as much. They both hated cleaning. A real couple of slobs!
How was it that you got involved with the HBO movie version?
Julie Goldstein was my main contact at Miramax for several years. We had a great experience on Mansfield Park [a Jane Austen adaptation that Rozema wrote and directed]. She and I work well together, so she asked me if I'd write it.
Actually, Michael [Sucsy] did a great deal of it. He found a box of letters by the women, learned that Little Edie had had this boyfriend, who was secretary of the interior at one point. He had done masses of research â€” he met with their relatives, people they'd stayed with, met with an old lady who'd stayed with them. He had a wealth of information. He had a linear script that would have cost them a lot. That's what I received. I liked the idea of going back and forth in time, and also incorporating the story of the documentary itself, because that's a key moment in their lives. We came up with this idea of two timelines. It's a new idea in a sense "a new formal idea" to take documentary footage and recreate it precisely, and then have a speculative script about the characters' background.
What was one of the main revelations you had about the two women?
As mad as they are, I can see completely how you would find yourself in Little Edie's shoes. It's a perfect storm of circumstances: early feminism, entitled laziness, an attitude towards the arts that they were low, the Depression, a prissy husband who just wanted a trophy wife. The husband was spectacularly pompous; I'm glad he was presented sympathetically in the film, because they were a handful for him. Another weird thing was that Big Edie had a son who lived very close by but didn't seem to be too involved in their lives. It was a family feud, because some in the family suggested that they should be cut off so they'd be forced to leave Grey Gardens, while others thought they should keep getting money.
Did you see the musical?
I did, but I made sure I did after I'd finished the screenplay. I had heard there were some inaccuracies in it and I wanted to stick to the facts as much as I could.
It was your idea to incorporate the Maysles as characters in the film.
Yes. To me it seemed really exciting and a pivotal part of the story. I love how switching points of view can change your experience of things, how it can change your morality even. I wanted to show scenes from the documentary itself, with deep mimicking and then contrast that with speculation about Little Edie yearning to be in New York. And to make out of that something coherent, and to make it not just about those two people but about all of us, struggling with questions about parents. Do we take care of them? Can you give up your life for someone else in your family? Is that what's required of us? I think everybody struggles with that. Even for the very wealthy, how much do you commit yourself to taking care of your parents?
Okay, so I have to ask the $64,000 question: why does Grey Gardens have so many gay fans?
That was news to me. I had no idea when I saw it. This is one of those cases where we should separate gay men and lesbians. It's a gay following, mainly. It's an extreme, daring film. These are fabulous outsiders who understand their own private culture. That's a point of identification. The Edies have a combination of brazen, non-apologetic, fuck-you attitude, but there's also sympathy there. They are refined and cultured but live in less-than-perfect circumstances. There's a tragic element too.
Many people argue that independent cinema is in real trouble right now. You're one of the most successful independent filmmakers Canada's ever had. What's your prognosis?
It isn't in trouble really. People will be making independent stories and getting them out somehow. The question is how. The means of making stories has never been easier to get. The possibility of communicating has never been greater. But how do you make money on it? It's really interesting to me. Maybe artists, writers, filmmakers, will never make very much money anymore. Perhaps it was a blip in history how some could suddenly become millionaires because we liked their smile or the way they turned a phrase or sang a song. I guess the bright side would be, only the real artists would continue to work in that world. You'd have to be committed, and for the right reasons.
There are some pretty awful parodies of Grey Gardens out there, but I found this to be completely charming, even if it is a glorified, extended commercial for the Ford Fiesta. Enjoy!
Join big and little Edie as they enjoy the event Ian and the Ford Fiesta bring to them. Starring Noelle Kenney and J.R. Nutt, scored by Rachel Portman, and Edited and Directed by Ian Sklarsky
Wow! Congratulations to all! Both Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange were nominated for their roles, and the film itself is up for "Outstanding Made for Television Movie". Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ken Howard were nominated for their supporting roles. Writer/director Michael Sucsy was nominated twice (as writer, with the wonderful Patricia Rozema) and director. And the visuals that made the film so compelling were nominated as well: Cat Thomas, Kalina Ivanov, and Mike Eley were all nominated.
A full listing of the nominees for Grey Gardens is below.
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie
- Kalina Ivanov, Production Designer
- Brandt Gordon, Art Director
- Norma Jean Sanders, Set Decorator
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special
- Ellen Parks, CSA, Casting Director
- Robin Cook, CSA, Location Casting Director
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special
- Catherine Marie Thomas, Costume Designer
- Mickey Carleton, Assistant Costume Designer (New York)
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie
- Alan Heim, A.C.E., Editor
- Lee Percy, A.C.E., Editor
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie
- Jenny Fifield-Arbour, Department Head Hairstylist
- Nancy E. Warren, Hairstylist
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic)
- Linda Dowds, Department Head Makeup Artist
- Susan Hayward, Key Makeup Artist
- Vivian Baker, Personal Makeup Artist
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special
- Vivian Baker, Special Makeup Effects Department Head
- Linda Dowds, Department Head Makeup Artist
- Bill Corso, Prosthetic Designer
- Sean Samson, Special Makeup Effects Artist
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
- Ken Howard as Phelan Beale
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Outstanding Made For Television Movie
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie
- Henry Embry, Production Mixer
- Rick Ash, Re-Recording Mixer
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
David Crotty was at the nominations this morning and snapped the photo at the top of this post for us!
I hope both our Edies are nominated, as they were wonderful! I have yet to make up my mind which of them should win.
From Gold Derby, by Tom O'Neil, on July 13, 2009
Pundits predict Oscar-winning women to vie for TV movie Emmy crown
Our dueling Emmy experts—forum moderators Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net)—agree on the five women who will vie for best actress in a TV movie or mini-series.
A trio of Oscar winners—Jessica Lange ("Grey Gardens"), Shirley MacLaine ("Coco Chanel") and Anna Paquin ("Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler)—should land nominations as will Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver for her telefilm debut Prayers for Bobby. And rounding out the list will be Lange's "Grey Gardens" co-star Drew Barrymore.
Best Movie/Mini Actress
I will be very surprised if any one of these 5 ladies isn't nominated. There is a big drop from this well-received group to such performances as Tammy Blanchard in the little-seen "Sybil", Claire Foy in "Little Dorrit" or Chandra Wilson in "Accidental Friendship".
This is a very competitive category, with some big names. The five listed above seem like the most likely contenders in this race, with Uma Thurman ("My Zinc Bed"), Chandra Wilson ("Accidental Friendship"), Claire Foy ("Little Dorrit") and Tammy Blanchard ("Sybil") most likely spoilers.
The "Libra Man", a fan who visited the Toronto filming of HBO's Grey Gardens, emailed in an interview he did with production designer Kalina Ivanov. Among the interesting tidbits of the interview: apparently a bedroom for Gould had been designed, although it doesn't appear in the finished film. And over 2,000 cat food cans were used in the set? Someone needs to give this woman an Emmy!
They also sent in some never-before-seen photos from the set, included in the interview below.
And don't forget, HBO's Grey Gardens comes out on DVD tomorrow!
By Libra Man & Kalina Ivanov, on July 12, 2009
Kalina, congratulations on a job well done! Your work for Grey Gardens is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that even Hamish Bowles has commented on it. Do you have a background as an interior designer?
I studied architecture and landscape design for one year in Sofia, Bulgaria. Then my family and I escaped from the communist regime through the Greek border and after six months living as political refugees, we arrived in New York City. I applied to the Design Department at NYU/TSOA and was accepted. I studied theatre design with the legendary Broadway set designer Oliver Smith who had huge influence on me. After two years assisting on Broadway musicals I decided to work in film as a storyboard artist.
While I was storyboarding I also went to NYU Film School/MFA program and graduated with honors.
By the way it meant a great deal to me that Hamish Bowles was taken with my design. I greatly admire his taste and writing.
Aesthetically, what's your favorite room that you designed for Grey Gardens?
My personal favorite room is Big Edie’s bedroom—we hand painted the walls. The pattern was inspired by English silk wallpaper. We dressed the room with French antiques to evoke a Southern feel since Big Edie was a Bouvier by birth and grew up influenced by French culture.
Conceptually, Michael and I wanted to bring the garden inside the house and we both felt this was the perfect room for it. Some of my favorite scenes from the film take place in it, like the one where both Edies, dressed in black, listen to John Kennedy’s funeral on the radio.
In Toronto, I seem to recall seeing a bedroom that you designed for Gould. Although it's not shown in the HBO film at all, what more can you tell us about the room?
You can see tiny bits of the room in the background in some scenes. We painted the walls pink and had grey curtains and some beautiful black cane chairs.
In the Maysles Brothers documentary you see Little Edie go into a pink room. Michael wanted very much to have it somehow in the film and we decided to make it Gould’s room.
What research and sources did you refer to so that you could get the decor right? Have you ever been to the actual Grey Gardens house?
I looked at both documentaries and all the research Michael had collected over five years. I also looked at all the Grey Gardens websites for additional information.
Once I felt I understood the characters, I collected architecture and decorating books about the 1920s and 1930s. From the beginning I based my design ideas on European Art Deco which was more fluid and floral then American Art Deco, that is very geometric.
I wanted the house to be feminine and bohemian, to reflect Big Edie’s taste and personality. After all, Grey Gardens was her kingdom.
The scenes set in the 1970s seem to have the exact same wall colors as the ones from the original Maysles documentary. How did you match the colors from the documentary to re-create the house?
Albert Maysles came to visit us in Toronto during pre-production and I had already chosen the colors for the infamous yellow room and the turquoise staircase. As everyone knows, film stock changes the look of the colors, so I asked Albert to look at my choices and let me know if I had gotten them right.
Albert smiled cryptically: "The colors are as you see them in the documentary". It reminded me of Big Edie’s line "It’s all in the movie".
We ended up mixing our own yellow and turquoise colors. For the fans, I’d like to recommend Benjamin Moore #HC-4 (Hawthorne Yellow) for the yellow room and #2047-50 (Shore House Green) for the staircase. Try them satin or semi-gloss finish.
What was the most difficult thing to get right about the house?
All of it was a challenge. We had a very short prep time—only six and a half weeks. We had to build the entire façade in a field by the Toronto Zoo, and then we had to build the two-story interiors on a stage.
Each of these elements had to be aged four times to show the different decades. The hardest job was to create the ‘derelict’ look and make it look natural. I worked very hard to make all the looks feel authentic.
Michael and I wanted the audience to relate to the different decades and never feel like they’re watching sets. I guess we succeeded since many people assumed we shot at the actual house.
When recreating the house, how did you figure out the size and scale of everything?
Michael made it relatively easy for me. He had compiled all the architectural drawings from the house. He even went as far as to build a computer model of it using ‘sketch-up’. It’s so much fun working with him, he’s an incredible artist.
How did you decide to use flowers as a theme in the house? It's always been my impression that Grey Gardens was all about the gardens. Even within the house, there are flowers everywhere: from the floral chintz downstairs to Little Edie's collages to Big Edie's slippers. How did you decide to use flowers so prominently in your work for Grey Gardens?
It’s natural to think of flowers when you hear the words Grey Gardens, so on my interview I brought Michael and image of a purple French Art Deco room with white painted flowers on the walls. It became the corner stone of our design. As I mentioned before I based my concept for the look of the film on European Art Deco style because of its fluidity.
You've mentioned that the living room has a birdcage with a plant in it, to show Big Edie's nonconformist spirit. What are some of the other ways that you expressed Big and Little Edie's personalities through the set design?
Every color and wallpaper was very carefully chosen. For example, I really wanted wallpaper with butterflies for Little Edie’s bedroom. I thought it captured her character perfectly; the way Edie moved reminded me of a fluttering butterfly.
Michael and I wanted Little Edie’s bedroom to be a little girl’s room as if she never grew up. There’s a sense of innocence to the room and it makes the scene where Edie has a meltdown and cuts her hair more poignant.
There was quite a bit of involvement from Grey Gardens fans in the HBO production. For example, some of the costumes and accessories were borrowed from fans. Were you able to benefit from fan involvement? Did you borrow anything from the fans for the sets?
I loved how involved the fans were in our production, it’s a testament to Michael’s intensive research; he reached out to everyone who knew and was interested in the Beales.
One of the loveliest contributions from a fan was the yellow tin box. Big Edie hid her wedding jewels in it. It was amazing to have the actual artifact and I’m sure the actors were very moved.
I'm fascinated by scenes that start inside the house and end outside of the house. I read that the interior and exterior of Grey Gardens were two separate sets, yet the transition between the sets is so seamless that the audience doesn't notice it. How were you able to accomplish this?
One of the many challenges was to make the transition between the façade and the stage set seamless. We achieved it through very careful planning and with the help of our gifted cinematographer, Mike Eley.
We build two porches, one on the exterior façade set and the second one the stage set. Thus, the porch became the connecting tissue between the two sets.
What are you most proud of about your work for Grey Gardens?
All of it... Perhaps, I’m most proud of making all the different decades look authentic, vibrant and full of life. I loved imagining how the house looked in the 1930s since we didn’t have any photographs of the interiors from that period.
I also loved re-constructing the yellow room, the turquoise staircase, the piles of cat food tins everyone knows from the documentary. Did you know we used over two thousand cans to sculpt those piles?
We also build the beds in the yellow room since they don’t exist anymore. We hand-painted some of the cards on the vanity mirror in the yellow bedroom to match Little Edie’s handwriting, we searched high and low for the little blue radio, we matched all the light switches and door handles, every detail was important... I loved every minute of designing Grey Gardens.
Thank you for your time, Kalina!
My pleasure. I just want to add that I was part of a great team. Cat Thomas, the costume designer and Mike Eley, the cinematographer, did an incredible job. Without Michael Sucsy and his energy, dedication, intense research, none of us would’ve succeeded.
At the end, everyone worked together to make Grey Gardens a film to remember. I hope people do.
This charming post put a huge smile on my face!
From Horticulture, by Amanda Thomsen, on July 9, 2009
I'm a staunch composter
I'm a staunch composter. S-T-A-U-N-C-H. There's nothing better, I'm telling you. We don't put it at the curb, no matter what.
I'm taking a chance here by only appealing to the 13 gardeners that are also Grey Gardens freaks. I'm willing to take that chance.
The photo is awful but it's hard coming up with a full length fur coat in July.
I'll be pulverized by this latest thing in the forum.
The DVD for HBO's Grey Gardens comes out next Tuesday...
...and now the cover art is available! Look closely at the back cover to see the DVD extras. An audio commentary with director Michael Sucsy and producers Lucy Barzun Donnelly and Rachel Horovitz is included, as well as a Grey Gardens: Then and Now feature.
Thanks to Dfernando for sending this in!
I do hope she gets nominated, and I hope Drew does as well!
From Daily Beast, by Amanda Fortini, on July 9, 2009
Jessica Lange's Spine of SteelJessica Lange will likely earn an Emmy nod next week for Grey Gardens, and is now an acclaimed photographer. Amanda Fortini talks to the actress about aging, love, and her most iconic roles.
Only a handful of living American actresses belong in the pantheon of true talents: Meryl Streep definitely; Joanne Woodward, Sissy Spacek and Sally Field, formerly; Jodie Foster, perhaps. And then there is Jessica Lange. In the course of her thirty-three-year career, Lange has received six Oscar nominations and two statues (Best Supporting for Tootsie in 1983, Best Actresses for Blue Sky in 1995), earning her not only a place on the film world’s Mount Olympus, but arguably some astral plane of her own. Though she is a star in the Old Hollywood sense—the name Jessica Lange, whether or not you have watched her films, is familiar, even iconic—she is still known primarily for her gifts as an actress. Famous as she is, she does not suffer from the syndrome of so many celebrities today: Jessica Lange the person with a personal life never eclipses Jessica Lange the actor in a role.
On a recent bright, warm afternoon in Beverly Hills, Lange sat for a cup of tea in the garden of the Four Seasons Hotel. She had come to discuss her role as Edith Bouvier Beale (aka "Big Edie") in the HBO film Grey Gardens, for which she is expected to receive an Emmy nomination next week, as well as an upcoming exhibition of her photographic work. ( "Jessica Lange: 50 Photographs" opens on July 11 at the Rose Gallery in Santa Monica; it will hang through September.) "Oh, real tea!" she exclaims, as the waitress delivers a pot of loose-leaf English Breakfast, complete with tea-ritual accessories. Despite her dignified, almost regal good looks—Lange is statuesque, with alpine-high cheekbones—there is something girlish about the 60 year-old actress. Her eyes smile with a sense of curiosity and mischief. Yet she also has the serene, centered air of someone who has lived her life on her own terms.
"I just came here for the day, literally," Lange, says, in that distinct voice, rich and caramel-smooth but with a faint lilt of the Upper Midwest. Unlike almost any actor with a full-fledged film career, Lange has never called Los Angeles home. Instead, she and her longtime partner, playwright and actor Sam Shepard, lived for nine years in Stillwater, Minnesota, a town not far from where Lange was born and raised, and then, for another nine years, on a farm in Virginia. "I left New York when my children were little, just to, you know, raise them in a different environment," she says. "Then I figured I’d done enough of…" she trails off, as she tends to when the conversation turns personal. She and Shepard now live in Manhattan’s West Village, but they keep "a cabin" in Northern Minnesota.
As Lange talks, it becomes evident that, like most charismatic people, she is a tangle of interesting contradictions: sexy yet self-contained, straight-shooting but also skittish. Jack Nicholson, her co-star on The Postman Always Rings Twice, famously called her "a delicate fawn crossed with a Buick." (He may also have been referring a certain emotional heft—in her case, a fragile concreteness—that frequently characterizes those from the middle of the country. "Good solid upbringing, isn’t it? she asks, upon learning of my Iowa roots. And then: "I think it gets you through some tough spots.")
When I ask about the secret to her enduring relationship with Shepard—the pair, who met in 1982 on the set of Frances, have never married but have been together for more than 25 years—she coils up ever so slightly. "I don’t know," she says, growing quiet and charmingly flustered, "You’ve got to have some deep connection… it’s a lot of history and knowing somebody really well, and… It’s being interested in somebody after 25 years; they still fascinate you." (The couple has two children together, a boy and a girl, ages 21 and 22; Lange also has a 27 year-old daughter with Mikhail Barishnikov.)
Lange is more at ease discussing Grey Gardens, her latest film project. Directed by Michael Sucsy, the film is a re-imagining of the popular 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, the brothers who trained their camera’s cold eye on Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, also named Edith ("little Edie"), the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy. The reclusive pair was found living together in bohemian squalor (feeding bread to raccoons and feral cats, taking meals in their beds) in their rambling old house, nicknamed "Grey Gardens," in East Hampton; a few years later, the Maysles arrived to film. Big and Little Edie (played in the remake by Drew Barrymore) surely rank as one of the most flawed mother-daughter pairs in history—they break the sound barrier of co-dependency—with Big Edie assuaging her loneliness by guilt-tripping her daughter into remaining with her at home, and Little Edie subordinating herself to her mother as a way of avoiding the harsh realities of the outside world.
The HBO film tunnels back into the past to recreate the circumstances that led to the Beales’ baroque dysfunction. "It’s a great role," says Lange, "The scope of it. The fact that I could play this woman over a forty-year time period was really exciting…to try to imagine or re-imagine her life earlier, I mean, for an actor it was just luscious, you know?"
During the forty-year period the film covers, the Edies evolve into a single maladjusted organism. Each is resentful of the other—and, crucially, angry with herself—for being unable to escape their mutual dependency. This narrative of grievance forms the backbone of both films; for Big and Little Edie, the issue, at every moment, is the entirety of their shared life. "You just can’t stand that the whole world is going to know the truth… about how you’ve held me back all these years!" Little Edie hollers at her mother. "You don’t leave—you say you will but you never do," her mother counters. As is the case with most familial relationships, the truth is too complicated to parse. Their symbiosis is both nightmare and fantasy.
Lange plays Big Edie with to-the-letter precision. Edith Beale’s voice, her loopy singing, her casual cruelty ("You can’t dance at all," she tells her daughter), her unwavering but pathological determination to remain tethered to Grey Gardens: the exactitude with which Lange portrays all this is eerie. But Lange strove for mimesis. When the voice coach hired to train her asked whether she would prefer to perform her own version of "Tea for Two," one of Big Edie’s amateur singing numbers, or to study the documentary and replicate it, Lange chose the latter. "I said, you can’t get any better than this, and there’s no reason to change a beat. So we studied every—she pauses for emphasis—single—pauses again—tiny facial expression, gesture, voice, everything." Lange, in fact, continued to watch the original documentary throughout the shoot. "It would be the first thing I’d do when I’d come to the set in the morning; everyday, I’d put it in. And I would listen to her voice, because as soon as I found her voice, I could find the character."
Still, the role presented its challenges, even for a veteran like Lange. Grey Gardens was, for instance, the first film for which Lange had to sing. "I’m thrilled I got away with it, you know?" (When Lange played Patsy Cline in Sweet Dreams, she lip-synched.) The actress also felt the pressure of playing an "iconic character," for which there existed tangible, visual, historical evidence. "You had the voice, the accent, all the mannerisms, and to try to thread it all together so that it was believable… and then to sing, and to dance…" she says. She knew that if she got it wrong, the film’s many obsessed fans—they watch the documentary like others watch Star Trek or Donnie Darko—would inform her of her errors. "I hadn’t watched the documentary when it first came out. I wasn’t, you know, one of those people," she says, jokingly referring to the Grey Gardens disciples.
But for Lange, there was only one approach, the one she has chosen throughout her career: to throw herself into the part with unselfconscious abandon. "I said, ‘Ok, you can’t second-guess yourself and you cannot be cautious... I’ve done this before with other parts, and I wanted to be reckless again, as an actor, instead of cautious." It’s not hard to guess the roles to which Lange was referring. She memorably played Frances Farmer, the actresses who was unfairly committed in Frances, and Carly Marshall, the unstable housewife in Blue Sky. On stage, she inhabited Mary Tyrone, sunk deep into her morphine addiction, and Blanche DuBois, sunk just as deep into despair.
Lange has frequently portrayed women teetering on the edge, those who the world of the play calls crazy but the audience in the theater might not. Her specialty is the seemingly fragile woman with, as she calls it, "a spine of steel." Big Edie Beale was no exception. "She said, screw it, I’m going to do what I want to do." Lange particularly valued the part because meaty roles have become increasingly uncommon for actresses of a certain age. "At this age," Lange says, "for an actress… to keep working at that level and quality of work that you used to… that’s rare now."
Though she never says so explicitly, one wonders whether Lange’s serious pursuit of photography is an attempt to continue to make the highest quality work, albeit in a different medium. Her photographs are, in a word, impressive. Grainy black-and-white images, shot with a Leica M6 and without a flash at weird, unexpected angles, they project a discomfiting atmosphere of mystery. (You can view them here.) Looking at them, one feels simultaneously lonesome and connected. Many of her photos are intensely intimate (a couple embracing on a dance floor, a father dandling his daughter), and it’s clear the actress is as talented at slipping into a situation and snapping a candid as she is at slipping into a character.
Perhaps, too, her photographs are an attempt to take control, to be, for once, the viewer rather than the viewed. Lange says as much: "The thing of constantly being observed, which you are as an actor, as a photographer, you’ve got that instrument, that camera, between you and whatever is your subject. I love the anonymity of photography." Or, as punk poetess Patti Smith, who wrote the introduction to 50 Photographs by Jessica Lange, a compilation of her work, puts it: "As an actress, she has been captured by the same light she is drawn to."
It looks as though the roles of the Edies have been cast already, but some supporting roles are available!
Be sure to book an audition appointment.
From DFW Theater
Sunday, July 19
Sunday, July 19
Tell them you saw the notice at DFWTheater!
Book by Doug Wright; Music by Scott Frankel; Lyrics by Michael Korie
Directed by Terry Martin
Musical Direction by James McQuillen
Sunday, July 19 from 5 PM to 8 PM
Callbacks will be held the same evening at 8 PM
Addison Theatre Centre 15650 Addison Road 75001
October 1—25 (with a possible extension through October 31)
Please prepare 16 bars each of two contrasting songs.
An accompanist will be provided.
Equity and Non-Equity roles are available.
Audition appointment required.
Scripts available for perusal at WTT Box Office.
To Book an Audition Appointment
Copy and paste the following link into your web browser:
- George Gould Strong—age 40—50; Dapper; plays piano extremely well
- Brooks, Sr./Brooks, Jr.—age 20—40; African-American
- Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr./Jerry—age 20—30; “a charming Greek god”
- “Jackie” Bouvier—age 12; Beautiful brunette girl.
- Lee Bouvier—age 8; Brunette. The tomboy.
All other roles have been cast.
Behind the closed doors of a dilapidated mansion, alongside fifty cats and piles of rubbish, live Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter “Little Edie”—the eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Go inside the walls of two shockingly different worlds: the resplendent Grey Gardens of 1941 and the Grey Gardens of 1973—a crumbling shadow of its former self. Based upon the groundbreaking documentary film by David and Albert Maysles, Grey Gardens is the hilarious and heartbreaking story of two women whose combative and codependent relationship is the one pillar in a constantly eroding house.
This interesting interview includes two tidbits that I hadn't known to be true: Edie really did run out on her deb party (as shown in the HBO film) and she really did throw roses over the balcony of the Paris theater at the screening of Grey Gardens (also seen in the film)!
From Social Life magazine, by Devorah Rose, on June 2009
Despite the competition, I'm still hoping the pundits are correct!
From Gold Derby, by tomoneil, on July 4, 2009
Inside track: Emmy race for best TV movie
All pundits presume "Grey Gardens" is a shoo-in to win best TV movie at the Emmys, and it probably is. It reaped rapturous acclaim from TV critics and stars a double Oscar champ (Jessica Lange), plus Drew Barrymore, in a biopic based upon real people (Jackie Kennedy's kooky relatives). Oh, yeah, it helps that it was aired by HBO, the network that's won this category 13 out of the last 15 years. Sixteen years ago, it tied itself with two victories in the one race ("Barbarians at the Gate," "Stalin")!
But watch out for another HBO film, "Into the Storm." The pay channel's previous biopic about Winston Churchill battling Nazis, "A Gathering Storm," won this Emmy battle in 2002, as did lots of other biopics about WWII figures: "Warm Springs" (2005), "Truman" (1996) and "Stalin" (1993). Another WWII drama is keenly in the running too, "Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler," starring Anna Paquin as a Pole rescuing Jews during the Holocaust, but it was telecast by CBS last year, not HBO.
HBO's "Taking Chance" has a good chance of a nomination because it deals with America's current war. Kevin Bacon stars as a real-life Marine who escorts the body of a fallen comrade back to America from Iraq.
The focus of Lifetime's "Prayers for Bobby"—a gay teen shamed into suicide—has special resonance among California voters in the shadow of the state's shame over passage of Proposition 8.
Watch out for two stealth entries here: drama series competing with long-form episodes‐Fox TV's "24" (Emmy winner, best drama series 2006) and PBS' "Wallander" (BAFTA winner, best drama series, 2009).
Best TV Movie
- "Accidental Friendship"
- "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler"
- "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story"
- "Grey Gardens"
- "Into the Storm"
- "Jesse Stone: Thin Ice"
- "My Zinc Bed"
- "Prayers for Bobby"
- "Taking Chance"
- "24 Redemption"
- "Wallander: One Step Beyond"
- "A Number"
- "Coco Chanel"
- "Front of the Class"
- "The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice"
- "Living Proof"
- "Loving Leah"
- "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa"
- "Natalee Holloway"
- "The Christmas Choir"
- "Flirting with Forty"
- "Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story"
- "Merry Christmas, Drake and Josh"
- "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
- "My Fake Fiance"
- "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving"
- "Safe Harbor"
- "Sex and Lies in Sin City: The Ted Binion Scandal"
- "Special Delivery"
- "The Two Mr. Kissels"
- "Will You Marry Me"
Grey Gardens is getting a lot of love lately!
By David Crotty, on July 3, 2009
The Coloring Books and the Brooch
Just wanted you to know that the coloring books are going to be in the Aug/Sept issue of BUST MAGAZINE.
I think there's going to be a story about them.
I will let you know when I get my copy in the mail to make sure it's in there.
AND the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles will be selling the brooch in their gift shop in conjunction with the EMMY'S Exhibit.
It may also be in their annual Emmy Costumes Exhibit! Keep our fingers crossed.
As the designer says, "Let's see Edie trump Audrey as a style icon, just once!"
This breezy and light wide leg romper incites memories of Grey Gardens glam.
Materials: Silk Cotton blend in dusty colours (also to cover buttons)
Got a Grey Gardens tip? Send it to BusterLovesWonderBread@gmail.com!