Tag Archives: Debra Messing

Flashback Friday-The Starter Wife (2007)

When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.

After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).

I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.

I recommend it.

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Dirty Dancing TV Movie Review

*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.

It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.

She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.

I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.

For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, Music, Television, TV Review

RIP Debbie Reynolds

I’m starting to think that death is playing a sick joke on us. I’ve stopped counting the number of celebrities we’ve lost this year.

Two days ago, we lost George Michael. Yesterday, actress and writer Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack. A short time ago, it was announced that Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke.

A friend of mine joked on Facebook that George RR Martin must be the man behind the throne this year.

Debbie Reynolds was one of the last living icons of the studio system. Her breakthrough role was in Singin’ In The Rain (1952), opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Though Ms. Reynolds played the wide-eyed innocent in the 1950’s, her real life was far from her on-screen persona. She was married three times, her first husband, the late crooner Eddie Fisher was the father of her children, Carrie (of Star Wars fame) and Todd. Eddie infamously left his wife and children for Elizabeth Taylor after the death of Ms. Taylor’s third husband, Mike Todd. Enduring two more divorces and bankruptcy, Debbie Reynolds will stay in our collective consciousness as one of the legends of old Hollywood.

I have to admit that while I admired Ms. Reynolds for her decades long career, my favorite role of hers will be Bobbi Adler, Grace Adler’s(Debra Messing) mother on Will and Grace.

RIP Debbie, you and Carrie are back together.

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Throwback Thursdays- Movie Weddings-The Wedding Singer (1998), The Wedding Planner (2001) & The Wedding Date (2005)

A wedding is a lovely thing. Two people coming together to make a public commitment to each other in front of their family and friends.  But a wedding is complicated and full of drama.

In 1998, Adam Sandler jumped from his previous man child comedic role to a rom-com leading man in The Wedding Singer. Robbie (Sandler) sings at weddings for a living. Julia (Drew Barrymore) is a waitress at one of the halls where Robbie is singing with his band.  They are both engaged to other people, but find that they are attracted to each other.

I like this movie. It is a typical rom-com, but it is not bland, boring or as predictable as rom-coms generally go. It is sweet and funny and enjoyable.

Three years later, Jennifer Lopez broke into the wedding rom-com genre with The Wedding Planner (2001). Mary (Lopez) is one of San Fransisco’s premiere wedding planners.  Mary’s new assignment is the wedding of Steve (Matthew McConauhey) and Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras).  But this assignment becomes complicated when Mary and Steve begin to develop feelings for each other.

It is a typical wedding rom-com. While it is very well done, there is nothing stand out about it.

Finally, in 2005, The Wedding Date was released. Kat (Debra Messing) is heading to her younger sister’s wedding. Her ex-fiance is in the wedding party. She hires Nick (Dermot Mulroney), a male escort to be her “boyfriend” for the weekend. What starts out as a simple decoy to fool her family becomes something completely different.

Debra Messing is one of my favorite actresses and a great comedic talent. But she is nearly wasted as a performer in this movie while Mulroney as the stock rom-com leading man, is not all that interesting.

Do I recommend them? I recommend the Wedding Singer, but not the Wedding Planner or The Wedding Date.

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Flashback Friday-TV Edition Part II-Will and Grace

In 1998, a new television show called Will and Grace premiered. The television landscape would never be the same again.

Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is a gay lawyer whose long term relationship has just ended. His best friend Grace (Debra Messing) is a straight interior designer who has just gotten engaged, but the engagement is off to a rocky start. Adding in Grace’s sometimes helpful assistant Karen (Megan Mullally) and Will’s initial guide to the gay world Jack (Sean Hayes), this foursome was an essential part of the must see TV lineup during it’s eight year run.

It is often said that good TV comes down to good writing and this show had great writing. The characters were flawed and human, but also funny and realistic. Without knowing it, Will and Grace broke new ground. Not just on American television, but in our overall society. We are a better country for having this show on the air.

I still love the reruns, they never fail to make me laugh.

 

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The Mysteries of Laura Review

Detective Laura Diamond (Debra Messing), the lead character in The Mysteries Of Laura is doing what many mothers do, a juggling act.

Her job is that of New York City Detective. Meanwhile she is trying to divorce her husband, Jake (Josh Lucas), but he has yet to sign the divorce papers. Laura and Jake have two very rowdy young sons who are adept at getting into trouble.

I watched the pilot last night. I didn’t know what to expect, but I enjoyed it. There is a lightness and a reality of being a working parent. The show also is not as heavy as it’s sister cop drama Law & Order, which is a nice change from many of the police room dramas that dominate the TV landscape.

So far so good. Onto episode 2.

 

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The Critics Were Wrong-Smash

There is a mystique about putting together a Broadway show.  It all seems so easy. But in reality, it takes time and a lot of work, both on and off stage.

The 2012 television series, Smash  took this concept and put in front of the television viewing audience.

The book writer and lyricist, Julia Houston and Tom Levitt (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) are writing a musical based on the life of iconic actress Marilyn Monroe. Directing is smarmy British director Derek Wills (Jack Davenport). Behind the scenes producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) is doing all she can to bring the show to Broadway. Competing for the lead role is fresh from the farm ingenue Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) and pulling herself up by her bootstraps chorus girl Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty).

Was the drama a little hyped up? I’m sure it was. Was the writing, especially in season 2 after taking on a new show runner a little questionable? Yes.

But sometimes, we need this kind of television, even if the critics hate it.

 

 

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