BY SUSAN HORNIK
IN FULL BLUME
Filmmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok were thrilled to work on the fascinating Amazon Studios documentary Judy Blume Forever, which explores, for the ﬁ rst time, one of the most inﬂ uential and provocative authors in the U.S. “Judy was truly a trailblazer – she never gave up no matter what challenge she dealt with,” Pardo enthused. “Learning about her and looking at the work again, what struck me most was just how incredible she was in all aspects of her life – in her books, but also in her personal life, and especially during the censorship year.” In the documentary, numerous celebrities, including Lena Dunham, Anna Conkle, and Samantha Bee, along with several middle schoolers, talk about the ways Blume touched their lives. “Davina and I both saw how our kids were relating to Judy’s books,” added Wolchok. “So we thought it was really important to include the voices of young people today.” Blume’s ﬁ lm adaptation of her uber popular book, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, is currently in theaters.
IN THE NEWS…
Hollywood has slowly come to a standstill due to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Representing 11,500 screenwriters, the ﬁrst casualty was late-night talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live, all of which are no longer ﬁlming. The last time this happened was for 100 days in 2007, when the members of the WGA reached a full stop in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), who voted to strike over several problems.
“It’s fair to say there’s a pretty big gap,” Bob Bakish, chief executive of Paramount Global, told analysts and investors on a conference call regarding the current strike. “We are prepared to manage through this strike even if it’s for an extended duration.” Another issue Hollywood directors could face is renewal negotiations with their organization, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), have started. They have until June 30 to work out a deal.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
If you’re on a quest to ﬁ nd your soulmate, check out Netﬂ ix’s new reality dating series, Jewish Matchmaking, for a dose of dating advice. Created by the team behind Indian Matchmaking, viewers follow matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom as she connects Jewish singles with potential love matches. One of the contestants on the show is Harmonie Krieger, a 45-year-old special events organizer who is looking for a youthful, charismatic, passionate partner. “I ﬁnd that the ones I want to date [where] there’s longevity and it’s stable, I don’t have the most passion with,” she explained to Shalom in the opening episode. “Why can’t it be both?” Krieger continued: “It’s not easy or comfortable by any means…yet the only way real magic happens is taking new chances and doing things with a diff erent lens. This show changed my world.” Krieger noted she loved working with Shalom. “She has been sent down from above to make you feel seen and heard in ways that I personally have never felt!”
PBS’ historical series American Experience will premiere its new documentary, Casa Susanna, which delves into an underground network of transgender women and cross-dressing men in the 1950s and ‘60s, who found sanctuary in the Catskills, New York.
The house provided a safe place for them to express themselves and live for a few days without fear of being incarcerated or institutionalized. The documentary comes to life via color photos of Casa Susanna’s guests. “I have been lucky enough to be able to bring this secret history, this invisible world, back to life,” said ﬁlmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz. “Now the story of this clandestine community is there for all to see. The unsettled nature of their existences and their bravery ring loud and clear.”
Added executive producer Cameo George: “This ﬁlm, in a beautiful and touching way, brings an important chapter of history to light, conﬁrming that this community is and has been a part of the American story.”
FALLING FOR U2
One of the most anticipated performances this fall is U2, who will be performing live in Las Vegas for the ﬁ rst time in four years. The concerts will be held at the brand new Sphere, a ﬁrst of its kind, tech-forward music venue.
“U2 hasn’t played live since December 2019, and we need to get back on stage and see the faces of our fans again,” Bono, the Edge, and Adam said in a press statement. “And what a unique stage they’re building for us out there in the desert…We’re the right band, Achtung Baby the right album, and Sphere the right venue to take the live experience of music to the next level… That’s what U2’s been trying to do all along with our satellite stages and video instal-lations, most memorably on the ZOO TV Tour, which ended in Tokyo 30 years ago this fall.”
The Edge added: “The beauty of Sphere is not only the ground-breaking technology that will make it so unique, with the world’s most advanced audio system, integrated into a structure designed with sound qual-ity as a priority; it’s also the possibilities around immersive experience in real and imaginary landscapes.”