Today in Soap Opera History (September 25)

1970: ABC aired the final episode of The Best of Everything.

1984: All My Children's Tad was celebrated at his bachelor

party. 1996: Days of our Lives' Sami and Austin married.

1998: One Life to Live's Bo grieved his son, Drew."The best prophet of the future is the past."

― Lord Byron

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1967: On Dark Shadows, while Willie Loomis remained in a coma, Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) attempted to hypnotize David Collins (David Henesy) to stop his prying into Barnabas' (Jonathan Frid) affairs.

1970: ABC aired the final episode of The Best of Everything, a short-lived ABC daytime soap opera that had only
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Today in Soap Opera History (March 30)

1970: A World Apart and The Best of Everything premiered on ABC.

Another World spinoff Somerset premiered on NBC.

Dark Shadows' Maggie found a mysterious note."All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut."

Anne Brontë in "Agnes Grey"

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1970: Daytime soap opera A World Apart premiered on ABC. The show was created by Katherine L. Phillips, Irna Phillips' daughter, and combined Irna's own life story with examples of the generation gap. Susan Sarandon
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Oscar history: Best Picture winners chosen by preferential ballot (1934-1945) include classic films

Oscar history: Best Picture winners chosen by preferential ballot (1934-1945) include classic films
In 2009 — when the Academy Awards went to 10 Best Picture nominees for the first time since 1943 — the preferential system of voting, which had been used from 1934 to 1945, was reintroduced. The academy did so as it believed this “best allows the collective judgment of all voting members to be most accurately represented.”

We have detailed how the preferential voting system works at the Oscars in the modern era. So, let’s take a look back at those dozen years early in the history of the academy when it first used this complicated counting to determine the Best Picture winner rather than a simple popular vote. (At the bottom of this post, be sure to vote for the film that you think will take the top Oscar this year.)

See Best Picture Gallery: Every winner of the top Academy Award


This seventh ceremony marked the first time that the Oscars eligibility period was the calendar year.
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“Ghost in the Shell” and a Brief Herstory of Whitewashing

Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell

During its opening weekend, the anticipated yet controversial film “Ghost in the Shell” took home a measly $19 million at the domestic box office. Both domestically and abroad, it’s expected to lose over $60 million total, and that’s got to hurt.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the whitewashing controversy that has followed the film since its casting choices were first announced. Perhaps, by now, you’ve even heard of its bizarre narrative ending that, as The New York Times puts it, “isn’t just appropriation, but obliteration.” That said, we imagine you, too, may have the same question that family and friends have constantly asked us: Why does Hollywood continue to miscast race — and what makes studios think they can successfully get away with it?

The “easy” answer is that, historically, they always have — we don’t need to tell you about Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or Katharine Hepburn in the Oscar-nominated “Dragon Seed.” What’s more difficult is understanding when (and why) yellow face and whitewashing became synonymous with, as Paramount domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies less-than-tactfully just put it, finding a balance between “honoring source material and [making] a movie for a mass audience.” And, just like all matters in Hollywood, this becomes even more complicated when one considers where female stars, female autonomy, and racial tropes specifically fit into this conversation.

Yellow Face: Romance, Desire, and Fear

Mary Pickford in “Madame Butterfly

Though the western image of the Asian woman on the screen may have shifted across spectrums of time, its historical construction has assured its perpetual relationship with the notion of yellow peril. In her book “Romance and the ‘Yellow Peril,’” Gina Marchetti historically traces yellow peril as a 19th-century European concept that, according to Marchetti, “combines racist terror of alien cultures, sexual anxieties, and the belief that the West will be overpowered and enveloped by the irresistible, dark, occult forces of the East.”

In early Hollywood, this was best represented by cinematic romances between the “moral white man” and the “eroticized native woman.” The only way to “properly” reconstruct taboo interracial romances on the screen was through — you’ve guessed it — yellow face. With a little makeup and prosthetics, Caucasian actresses could transform into Asian characters who, more often then not, embodied the supposed seductiveness of the East.

Ironically, Paramount Pictures adopted this tactic as early as 1915 by casting Mary Pickford in “Madame Butterfly.” Pickford’s Japanese character falls in love with a westernized man, and their “racially forbidden” love ends in tragedy. The application of yellow face acts as a reassurance to western ideals: Though, narratively, The Butterfly may obtain the affections of the westernized man, the audience needs not distance itself from this taboo. In reality, it is a love between a Caucasian man and a Caucasian woman, rather than a “true” mixing of the West with the “alien cultures” of the East.

Myrna Loy in “The Mask of Fu Manchu

Yellow face is also arguably responsible for the now-infamous Hollywood image of the erotic Asian woman. Amidst an Asian persona, actresses were able to embrace and reveal a sexual identity that would otherwise be deemed immoral. In a way, some saw this as a rare career opportunity to show something different — and doesn’t that remind you of Johansson’s contemporary comments regarding her own casting?

Before she was the beloved Mrs. Charles of “The Thin Man” series, Myrna Loy embraced this “opportunity” throughout many of her silent films, including “The Crimson City” (in which she was chosen over Anna May Wong), “Thirteen Women,” and “The Mask of Fu Manchu.” Opposite a yellow faced Boris Karloff in “The Mask of Fu Manchu,” Loy plays a “half-naked nymphomaniacal sadist who reaches orgasmic heights when torturing white males.” Thus, in Loy’s case, an “Asian mask” is used to explore both racial stereotypes and female sexual desire — but at a distance guaranteed and controlled by whiteness itself.

Gale Sondergaard and Bette Davis in “The Letter

The 1940s was also full of “rare opportunity” — not for artistry, but rather for country. William Wyler’s “The Letter” stands as one of the first filmic examples of “reaffirmed” yellow peril that persisted throughout World War II. This is seen through deliberate ramifications related to both the script and whitewashed casting — interestingly enough, in the 1929 original, the lead Asian protagonist is actually played by an Asian actress.

Gale Sondergaard’s role as a sinister wife (to Bette Davis’ “other woman”) is far from Pickford’s Butterfly or the overly sexualized Loy — she is truly a figure to be feared and despised, as opposed to conquered or desired. Sondergaard’s character is described as an “oriental villainous snake” deliberately juxtaposed against Davis’ “westernized and pure” feminine woman. Not only is the trope of the “bad Asian” employed and intensified, but the choice to hire a Caucasian actress is directly tied to the the anti-Asian sentiment of the Second World War. Sadly, this 1940s need for audience “familiarity and comfort” speaks volumes to where we still are today.

It’s 2017… We’re Still Talking About This?

Credit: Mdsc

For better or worse, this early industrial history offers a brief glimpse of understanding into this, frankly, screwed up Hollywood mentality.

Just last year, the Media, Diversity, and Social Change (Mdsc) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that “at least half or more of all cinematic, television, or streaming stories fail to portray one speaking or named Asian or Asian American on screen.” Over 17 million people in the United States identify as Asian or Asian American. That’s over five percent of the country’s population!

The idea that actually casting Asian characters in Asian roles would repel a mass audience is a dated, Euro-centric cop-out. Newsflash: we don’t always need a Swinton or Stone.

Ghost in the Shell

As for Johansson, The Mary Sue said it best: “she’s one of those few female stars who can open a film, make a huge paycheck, and has a certain level of decision-making power.” Now, let us start by saying that, obviously, we at Women and Hollywood love nothing more than watching other women succeed.

That said, like her predecessors before her, the color of Johansson’s skin grants her a level of star power and opportunity that few others could access or afford. The mere fact that she even can consider her “Ghost in the Shell” character “identity-less” speaks to her racial privilege. Her comments related to this film have consistently (and frustratingly) proven that this history—that whitewashing enables actresses to safely explore personas or opportunities they wouldn’t seek otherwise — is very much ingrained into the media’s industrial mindset.

If producers and studio executives refuse to evolve their ways, then it is up to those of us who have power (like Johansson) to fight for greater intersectionality. Women must lift other women up, and white actresses, in particular, must learn to see past personal opportunity and instead acknowledge that some “unique experiences” simply do not belong to them.

Ghost in the Shell” and a Brief Herstory of Whitewashing was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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The Letter

The second of Bette Davis’ three collaborations with William Wyler (the first was 1938’s Jezebel boasting a brilliant Davis performance), this 1940 melodrama features a somewhat convoluted plot mixing betrayal and revenge while playing out in an overheated Malaysian setting. The theatrical hijinks are grimly effective and Davis and Wyler are near their peak, not to mention the underrated Gale Sondergaard, whose forbidding beauty is used to good effect as a vengeful widow.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Actors who Almost Played Famous Roles

  • Cinelinx
Did you ever see an actor/actress in a famous role and then hear later that they were not the first, or even the second choice to play the iconic part? Many of the legendary movie characters began as a vehicle for a different star than the one who we know-and-love in the part. Here are a few of the greatest examples of famous "Almosts'.

Christopher Walken As Han Solo: George Lucas had a very hard time finding his Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). This character was the last of the lead figures to be cast. Lucas’ leading contender at one point was none other than Christopher Walken. Just think about the possibilities in that performance! However, a chance meeting with Harrison Ford (Who was working as a carpenter at the time) inspired Lucas to cast Ford in the part instead, which launched him into super stardom in the 80s.
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Examining Hollywood remakes: The Mask of Zorro

  • Cinelinx
It’s time to talk about remakes again. In this installment of our series, we’re going to be looking at a revamped version of one of the most legendary fictional heroes ever. This week, Cinelinx looks at The Mask of Zorro (1998).

The Zorro character was introduced in the 1919 serialized story, “The Curse of Capistrano”, written by Johnston McCulley, and was published in All-Stories Weekly, the same magazine that first published Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan of the Apes” and “John Carter: Warlord of Mars”. Zorro was partly the inspiration for Batman. (Parenthetically, in DC comics, Bruce Wayne and his parents were coming out of a theater after seeing a film version of Zorro when his parents were killed.)

The story has been adapted several times. The first time was a silent film version in 1920, starring the cinema’s first-ever action star Douglas Fairbanks as the title character. However, we
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Leigh Day on TCM: From Southern Belle in 'Controversial' Epic to Rape Victim in Code-Buster

Vivien Leigh ca. late 1940s. Vivien Leigh movies: now controversial 'Gone with the Wind,' little-seen '21 Days Together' on TCM Vivien Leigh is Turner Classic Movies' star today, Aug. 18, '15, as TCM's “Summer Under the Stars” series continues. Mostly a stage actress, Leigh was seen in only 19 films – in about 15 of which as a leading lady or star – in a movie career spanning three decades. Good for the relatively few who saw her on stage; bad for all those who have access to only a few performances of one of the most remarkable acting talents of the 20th century. This evening, TCM is showing three Vivien Leigh movies: Gone with the Wind (1939), 21 Days Together (1940), and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Leigh won Best Actress Academy Awards for the first and the third title. The little-remembered film in-between is a TCM premiere. 'Gone with the Wind' Seemingly all
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Last Surviving Gwtw Star and 2-Time Oscar Winner Has Turned 99: As a Plus, She Made U.S. Labor Law History

Olivia de Havilland picture U.S. labor history-making 'Gone with the Wind' star and two-time Best Actress winner Olivia de Havilland turns 99 (This Olivia de Havilland article is currently being revised and expanded.) Two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland, the only surviving major Gone with the Wind cast member and oldest surviving Oscar winner, is turning 99 years old today, July 1.[1] Also known for her widely publicized feud with sister Joan Fontaine and for her eight movies with Errol Flynn, de Havilland should be remembered as well for having made Hollywood labor history. This particular history has nothing to do with de Havilland's films, her two Oscars, Gone with the Wind, Joan Fontaine, or Errol Flynn. Instead, history was made as a result of a legal fight: after winning a lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the mid-'40s, Olivia de Havilland put an end to treacherous
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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: Bates Suffers in Contrived, Overlong Drama About Christian Persecution of Jews

'The Fixer' movie with Alan Bates, Dirk Bogarde and Ian Holm (background) 'The Fixer' movie review: 1968 anti-Semitism drama wrecked by cast, direction, and writing In 1969, director John Frankenheimer declared that he felt "better about The Fixer than anything I've ever done in my life." Considering Frankenheimer's previous output – Seven Days in May, the much admired The Manchurian Candidate – it is hard to believe that the director was being anything but a good P.R. man for his latest release. Adapted from Bernard Malamud's National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (itself based on the real story of Jewish brick-factory worker Menahem Mendel Beilis), The Fixer is an overlong, overblown, and overwrought contrivance that, albeit well meaning, carelessly misuses most of the talent involved while sadistically abusing the patience – and at times the intelligence – of its viewers. John Frankenheimer overindulges in 1960s kitsch John Frankenheimer
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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: 'Devil' Movie Questions Definition of Madness

'The Devil Strikes at Night,' with Mario Adorf as World War II era serial killer Bruno Lüdke 'The Devil Strikes at Night' movie review: Serial killing vs. mass murder in unsubtle but intriguing World War II political drama After more than a decade in Hollywood, German director Robert Siodmak (Academy Award nominated for the 1946 film noir The Killers) resumed his European career in the mid-1950s. In 1957, he directed The Devil Strikes at Night / Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam, an intriguing, well-crafted crime drama about the pursuit of a serial killer – and its political consequences – during the last months of the mass-murderous Nazi regime. Inspired by real events, The Devil Strikes at Night begins as war-scarred Hamburg is deeply shaken by the horrific murder of a waitress. Through the Homicide Bureau, inspector Axel Kersten (Claus Holm) begins an investigation that leads him to a mentally disabled laborer,
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Oscar-Nominated Film Series: WB Queen Davis Sensational as Passionately Cold-Hearted Murderess

'The Letter' 1940, with Bette Davis 'The Letter' 1940 movie: Bette Davis superb in masterful studio era production Directed by William Wyler and adapted by Howard Koch from W. Somerset Maugham's 1927 play, The Letter is one of the very best films made during the Golden Age of the Hollywood studios. Wyler's unsparing, tough-as-nails handling of the potentially melodramatic proceedings; Bette Davis' complex portrayal of a passionate woman who also happens to be a self-absorbed, calculating murderess; and Tony Gaudio's atmospheric black-and-white cinematography are only a few of the flawless elements found in this classic tale of deceit. 'The Letter': 'U' for 'Unfaithful' The Letter begins in the dark of night, as a series of gunshots are heard in a Malayan rubber plantation. Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) walks out the door of her house firing shots at (barely seen on camera) local playboy Jeff Hammond, who falls dead on the ground.
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Gardner, Crawford Among Academy's Career Achievement Award Non-Winners

Honorary Award: Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth among dozens of women bypassed by the Academy (photo: Honorary Award non-winner Gloria Swanson in 'Sunset Blvd.') (See previous post: "Honorary Oscars: Doris Day, Danielle Darrieux Snubbed.") Part three of this four-part article about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Honorary Award bypassing women basically consists of a long, long — and for the most part quite prestigious — list of deceased women who, some way or other, left their mark on the film world. Some of the names found below are still well known; others were huge in their day, but are now all but forgotten. Yet, just because most people (and the media) suffer from long-term — and even medium-term — memory loss, that doesn't mean these women were any less deserving of an Honorary Oscar. So, among the distinguished female film professionals in Hollywood and elsewhere who have passed away without
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Shirley Temple in The Blue Bird – A Look Back at 1940

Review by Sam Moffitt

I never was a fan of Shirley Temple, far from it. I do recall seeing most of her movies years ago. Back in the Sixties Channel 11, in St. Louis, used to have a Shirley Temple Theater on weekend afternoons. My sister Judy, for some reason, had to watch those Shirley Temple films. So I can recall seeing Bright Eyes, the Little Colonel, Heidi, Little Miss Marker and what have you.

To say I was not impressed would be a major understatement. Even as a young kid I realized there was a strict formula to Shirley’s movies, namely her sunny disposition and optimistic outlook would win over cranky old adults and straighten out bratty little kids, who were usually the villains, in her films, and that was about all.

I do recognize and respect Shirley Temple’s place in film history. She was the biggest star
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Will Lupita Nyongo and Barkhad Abdi join 15 Oscar winners for film debuts?

Will Lupita Nyongo and Barkhad Abdi join 15 Oscar winners for film debuts?
Both Lupita Nyongo ("12 Years a Slave") and Barkhad Abdi ("Captain Phillips") have earned Oscar nominations for their feature film debuts, making this the first time in 17 years that two actors have done so. The last time was Edward Norton ("Primal Fear") and Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves") in 1996; if their careers are any indication, Nyongo and Abdi have a lot to look forward to regardless of the Oscar results. Since winning at Critics' Choice and the SAG Awards, Nyongo has dramatically widened her lead in the Best Supporting Actress race over Golden Globe champ Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"). Indeed, Supporting Actress has crowned more debuts that any other category; Nyongo would be the ninth, following: Gale Sondergaard ("Anthony Adverse," 1936) Katina Paxinou ("For Whom the Bell Tolls," 1943) Mercedes McCambridge ("All the King's Men," 1949) ...
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Don't Let the U.S. Government Shut Down! Quality Halloween Movies in October, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Cat and the Canary’ 1939: Paulette Goddard / Bob Hope haunted house comedy among Halloween 2013 movies at Packard Theater There’s much to recommend among the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus and State Theater screenings in Culpeper, Virginia, in October 2013, including the until recently super-rare Bob Hope / Paulette Goddard haunted house comedy The Cat and the Canary (1939). And that’s one more reason to hope that the Republican Party’s foaming-at-the-mouth extremists (and their voters and supporters), ever bent on destroying the economic and sociopolitical fabric of the United States (and of the rest of the world), will not succeed in shutting down the federal government and thus potentially wreak havoc throughout the U.S. and beyond. (Photo: Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard in The Cat and the Canary.) Screening on Thursday, October 31, at the Packard Theater, Elliott Nugent’s The Cat and the Canary is a remake of Paul Leni
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Dangerous Davis Schedule

Bette Davis movies: TCM schedule on August 14 (photo: Bette Davis in ‘Dangerous,’ with Franchot Tone) See previous post: “Bette Davis Eyes: They’re Watching You Tonight.” 3:00 Am Parachute Jumper (1933). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Claire Dodd, Harold Huber, Leo Carrillo, Thomas E. Jackson, Lyle Talbot, Leon Ames, Stanley Blystone, Reginald Barlow, George Chandler, Walter Brennan, Pat O’Malley, Paul Panzer, Nat Pendleton, Dewey Robinson, Tom Wilson, Sheila Terry. Bw-72 mins. 4:30 Am The Girl From 10th Avenue (1935). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Bette Davis, Ian Hunter, Colin Clive, Alison Skipworth, John Eldredge, Phillip Reed, Katharine Alexander, Helen Jerome Eddy, Bill Elliott, Edward McWade, André Cheron, Wedgwood Nowell, John Quillan, Mary Treen. Bw-69 mins. 6:00 Am Dangerous (1935). Director: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Bette Davis, Franchot Tone, Margaret Lindsay, Alison Skipworth, John Eldredge, Dick Foran, Walter Walker, Richard Carle, George Irving, Pierre Watkin, Douglas Wood,
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Durbin's 'Christmas' Movie No Yuletide Concoction

Deanna Durbin in the 1940s: From wholesome musicals to film noir sex worker (photo: Gene Kelly and Deanna Durbin cast against type in the un-Christmas-y Christmas Holiday) [See previous post: "Deanna Durbin Without Joe Pasternak: Adrift at Universal."] The Deanna Durbin vs. Universal dispute was settled in early 1942, when the actress was supposedly granted director and story approval. But things didn’t go all that smoothly from then on. There would be no loan-outs to the more opulent MGM, and Durbin would later complain that Universal refused to abide by her requests. Also, for the first time since her career skyrocketed in 1936, Durbin was absent from the screen for a whole year. The key reason there were no 1942 Deanna Durbin movies was the troubled production of her next star vehicle, The Amazing Mrs. Holliday, in which Durbin tries to smuggle Chinese orphans into the U.S., and which underwent not only various title changes, but also various directors and various script
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Interview: Matt, the "75 Supporting Actresses" Genius, Tells All!

I'm calling it right now: The "75 Best Supporting Actresses" YouTube video, where a whippersnapper named Matt imitates all 75 winners of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a few minutes, is and will be the best video of 2012 (excepting those wonderful Verbal Vogueing and Weeklings clips, of course). It's a hilarious exhibition of talent, creativity and raw gay nerve. And it validates everyone's obsession with award shows too. Now every Best Supporting Actress from Hattie McDaniel to Jennifer Connelly is immortalized in one flavorful, quirky mix. It's not just entertaining; it's important. Let's bow down.

I caught up with the creator himself, an enigmatic YouTube star who goes by the Twitter handle @Diariesofdoom and prefers to go by just his first name, to talk about his marvelous video. We also spoke about the best Oscar moments, the worst Oscar winners, and the awardees who helped spread his gem on YouTube.
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Ok, Let's Talk About the Amazing "75 Best Supporting Actresses" Reenactment Video

I've waited a few days to collect my thoughts and weigh in on the most important YouTube video since Corgis Enjoy A Treadmill, so here goes: A fast-yapping vlogger who goes by the name The Doomsday Diaries (and the Twitter handle @Diariesofdoom) zeroed in on The Academy Awards' Best Supporting Actress category -- the greatest Oscar category, by the way -- and toasted it by reenacting scenes/moments from all 75 winning performances since 1936.

Let me be clear: This is a staggering feat. This guy has democratized everyone from Eva Marie Saint and Lila Kedrova to Gale Sondergaard and Helen Hayes in the clippiest, hippest way possible. It's explosive. It's gigantic. It's a pink diamond. And so much of it is amazingly good. It's like a version of "The Snatch Game"from RuPaul's Drag Race, except with dignified actresses up for satire and not, say, Snooki.

I thought we'd have a little debate.
See full article at The Backlot »
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