-Two young actresses are pitted against each other for the lead role in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity as the lone survivor of a failed space telescope repair mission who is trying to get home. Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively are vying for the part in the project, reports THR's Heat Vision blog, which was originally set up at Universal as an Angelina Jolie vehicle. The Cast Away-esque film is now set to push either Johansson or Lively out of a sidekick role and into the spotlight; Robert Downey Jr.'s character in the film takes a back seat to the astronaut trying to get home to her daughter.
In Hollywood, actresses who can carry a movie like this are in short supply: it's essentially Jolie, who comes with a $20-million price tag. Both Johansson and Lively are working on establishing their action film cred (and beefing up their workout regimes) with Iron Man 2 and The Green Lantern (in which Blake co-stars with Johansson's husband Ryan Reynolds). Johansson's last four films--Iron Man 2, He's Just Not That Into You, The Spirit and Vicky Cristina Barcelona--have capitalized on her sex appeal and little else. Lively makes an attractive mannequin in her bread-and-butter series Gossip Girl, but her role in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee suggests potential that could break out in Ben Affleck's upcoming The Town. Whoever wins the Gravity role will have a key opportunity to prove themselves.
- Team Aniston got some unwelcome PR when Bill O'Reilly felt the need, earlier this week, to call her promotion of The Switch "destructive to our society." Aniston plays a woman who decides to become artificially inseminated, and she has been heralding to the press the idea that this is not only acceptable, but that times have changed - women don't need men to bear children and be good parents. O'Reilly calls it "glamorizing single parenthood," (which is worse than glamorizing picture-perfect nuclear families that don't exist?). He fears Aniston is "diminishing" under-appreciated fathers (who don't abandon their families, he clarifies) and that the message 12 and 13 year old girls will take from her and this film is that "you don't need a guy." Agreed. Since she is not heralding (or to blame for) teenage pregnancy, and since there are millions of functioning single mothers out there, what's the problem? But rest assured, O'Reilly, if Hollywood follows its usual pattern, The Switch will throw Aniston's comments out the window and give her a partner and her baby a father by the end of the movie.
- Deadline interviews Mad Men's Christina Hendricks (nominated for a best supporting actress Emmy). She discusses striving for longevity in her career (Mad Men is the fifth, and most noteworthy, series she's appeared on), her status as a sex symbol; "the good part about that is maybe I’ve contributed to helping women appreciate themselves the way they are, that we don’t all have to be a Size 2 to be beautiful"; the film she is working on alongside Blythe Danner and James Caan called Detachment (a heavy drama about the American public school system), on why she'd be happy for Mad Men to go on forever, and her search for material that excites her - "I'd love to do a musical!"