When Women Call the Shots: The Developing Power and Influence of Women in Television and Film

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Record numbers of women are working in all areas of the film and television industries. Actresses are creating their own production companies in order to obtain better roles and more control of their material. Women are creating TV shows to explore stories that more closely reflect their lives. There are more films about women and women's issues, and more money-making films with women protagonists. Change is occurring at every level, and women are clearly having an impact that is reshaping the entertainment ...
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Overview

Record numbers of women are working in all areas of the film and television industries. Actresses are creating their own production companies in order to obtain better roles and more control of their material. Women are creating TV shows to explore stories that more closely reflect their lives. There are more films about women and women's issues, and more money-making films with women protagonists. Change is occurring at every level, and women are clearly having an impact that is reshaping the entertainment industry and the product it delivers. Who better to tell of these changes than script consultant and author Linda Seger. Through interviews with key players such as Sherry Lansing, Dawn Steel, Gillian Armstrong, Marlo Thomas, Linda La Plante, Nora Ephron, Liv Ullman, Loretta Young, Jane Wyman, and many, many others, she shows just what a woman's influence means in what we see - and what we will see much more of in the years ahead - in movie theaters and on our TV screens and how, in turn, that power affects society.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The pedestrian title is unfortunately apt for this book by a script consultant who has also written texts on scriptwriting. Seger has interviewed key women working in TV and film today, including Dawn Steel, Sherry Lansing, Nora Ephron and Liv Ullman. Most of them say the dutiful, expectable things: that women have to work harder than men to succeed, need to develop mentoring strategies, can't lose sight of the need to entertain even when trying to create socially significant work and so on. The general effect is rather dull and repetitious. The layout of the book, in short bites that resemble paragraphs in a long magazine article, does not help, and Seger uncritically accepts anything her interviewees say (Sharon Stone: "I try to find pictures that support my soul... I have a pro-woman agenda."). The not very surprising conclusion: women have more power in the visual media than they used to, but still not nearly enoughand too many movies that demean them still get made. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This is an exceptionally well-organized, broadly stimulating discussion of a topic that might interest almost anyone. Seger (From Script to Screen, LJ 2/1/94) incorporates interviews with women from many countries as well as some working outside the U.S. mainstream in avant-garde, documentary, independent, and even academic arenas. An impressive interviewer, Seger is undaunted in taking advantage of contacts in Mexico, Australia, Eastern Europe, and Asia, while keeping Hollywood production as the common reference point. Her background as a scriptwriter gives the interviews a strong focus on narrative problems, which is easily extended to the stories of the women and their work environments. Her enthusiasm and generosity toward what some might see as marginal participants gives the book unexpected depth. The book concludes with a discovery: "Women all over the world were asking for more diversity and balance in the films we see, teamwork and partnership with men, and more authentic female characters." Recommended for all libraries with an interest in contemporary culture.-Jane E. Sloan, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Booknews
The author, a professional script consultant, sketches the early years of women in Hollywood and looks at professional women in commercial and independent film and television. She interviews studio executives, directors, actors, and writers, discussing women's voices as writers and creators, portrayals of sex and romance, and juggling career and families. Includes b&w photos. For general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough but pedestrian look at women's evolving roles in film and television.

To put together this book, script consultant Seger interviewed nearly 200 prominent women in film around the world—from studio execs like Dawn Steel and Sherry Lansing to directors Gillian Armstrong and Agnes Varda to a slew of writers, producers, directors of photography, and editors. This range and breadth of talents is impressive, even definitive, and Seger is to be congratulated for spotlighting a number of unsung achievements by women in film. Unfortunately, she relies too much on her sources, favoring their quotes over her own writing (a large proportion of the book is quotations). But Seger is relentlessly trying to hammer home a larger point. She argues that women perceive the world very differently from men. When it comes to the movies, Seger believes women prefer less linearity and less narrative, with a greater emphasis on character and relationships. Women want to see more women heroes, more recognition of their dreams and fantasies, and, apparently, more apt depictions of their sexuality. As filmmaker Julie Dash puts it, perfectly encapsulating the middle-class realist aesthetic Seger espouses, "Everybody needs to see their lives affirmed on the big screen." Seger believes, no surprise, that the best way to affirm and celebrate this "other" perspective is by hiring more women in all areas of the film industry. Of course, some postmodern feminists would accuse Seger of essentialism, ratifying as immutable differences that are really culturally determined. And why limit women to the ghetto of women's stories? After all, is the role of art merely to reflect one's own reality?

More debate and diversity of opinion would have been welcome instead of Seger's seamless united front.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805038910
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.63 (h) x 1.19 (d)

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