Entertainment

In New Documentary, Rita Moreno Talks the Racism, Sexism, and Discrimination She Faced in Her 70-Year Career

Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

The new documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival on Friday. As you can probably guess, the film focuses on the indomitable EGOT-winning icon Boricua.

According to the film’s director, fellow Boricua Mariem Pérez Riera, the movie is supposed to offer a stripped-down and intimate portrait of the real Rita Moreno.

“We always knew that we wanted this documentary to not be just a showreel of her career and how great she is,” Pérez Riera told NBC News.

“When I make or watch a documentary, I want to be able to know that person more than just what I already know, so it was very important for me to go deeper and to understand her as a human being.”

Pérez Riera also explains how she was attracted to 89-year-old Moreno as subject because she related to Moreno’s struggles with discrimination and insecurity.

“I related to all she was saying, her stories about discrimination, the insecurities she felt because of the way others perceived her, the complicated love relationships, and the constant need to work three times harder to prove to others that she is worthy,” the filmmaker said.

Much of the documentary focuses on Moreno’s struggle against a racist and sexist industry that repeatedly pigeonholed and underestimated her.

At the start of her career, Moreno was only cast in roles of ambiguously brown characters–Native American, Filipino, Hawaiian, and Thai.

“I wanted to turn the parts down, but that’s all that was offered and I had to make a living,” Moreno reveals in the film. “I was kind of stuck.”

The documentary also features dozens of interviews of Moreno’s friends, fans, and previous co-workers, including Morgan Freeman, Gloria Estefan, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and her “West Side Story” co-star, George Chakiris. Many of them reflect on the impact Moreno made on Hollywood.

Although Moreno has always been proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, she struggled with her sense of self-worth in Hollywood.

“When I went to Hollywood, I really learned where I stood in the world, and it was so sad and frustrating,” Moreno explained in an interview with the LA Times while promoting the documentary.

“There is something so awful about, if you were a performer, asking your agent to submit you for something and the people won’t even see you because they think you’re too Spanish or something. It’s so frustrating and you want to run and knock their door down and say: ‘Look, let me read this scene for you. I’m good. I’m really good. Let me. Watch me. Listen to me.'”

“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” will air on PBS soon as part of their American Masters series. Details about premiere date and time TBD.

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HBO’s ‘Allen v. Farrow’ Documentary Sparks Potential Lawsuit

Entertainment

HBO’s ‘Allen v. Farrow’ Documentary Sparks Potential Lawsuit

Ron Galella / Getty

Updated Feb. 24, 2021.

Dylan Farrow’s name has been tightly linked to the story she has been telling since 1992.

For three decades her account of being molested by her adoptive father, director Woody Allen, while in her mother Mia Farrow’s attic in Connecticut and molested her when she was seven years old has not wavered. She first told the story at the time of the incident to therapists, then she told police, and years later in 2014, she wrote an oped to the New York Times and again in 2017 for the Los Angeles Times. In 2018 she spoke about the incident in a televised interview with CBS and now she’s telling the same story, which many have cast doubt on in a four-part documentary from HBO titled Allen v. Farrow.

Allen v. Farrow investigates the abuse allegations and subsequent custody battle that gravely affected Farrow’s career but has only recently begun to create problems for Allen.

The new documentary series aired its first episode which examined the ways in which Allen’s behavior toward Dylan struck family, friends, and even a psychiatrist as inappropriate. The episode details how Allen took up an obsessive interest in Dylan after her adoption.

“I was always in his clutches,” Dylan remembered in the first episode. “He was always hunting me.” Dylan goes onto recall instances in which Allen would “direct” her on how to suck his thumb and what to do with her “tongue.” At one point a family friend backs up this behavior saying she’d seen Dylan doing this one time while other family members and acquaintances said they’d also witnessed Allen’s oddly sexual treatment of Dylan.

Allen has always denied the allegations brought forth by Dylan and has largely gotten away from the stain of such claims to continue his career based on the “woman scorned” trope.

Allen has proven to be the exception to the #MeToo movement in Hollywood despite many who claim to support the efforts to end sexual abuse in the industry. Prominent actresses like Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, and even Selena Gomez worked with Allen in the decades after he was accused of abuse. Gomez starred alongside Timothée Chalamet in Allen’s 2017 film A Rainy Day in New York, which was eventually shelved by the movie’s production company, Amazon Studios after Dylan reiterated her claims in the 2017 op-ed.

Since the 90s, Allen has maintained that Farrow, his former partner of 12 years, conducted a smear campaign against him after she discovered his affair with her 21-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.

At the time of their tumultuous divorce, which came as a result of the affair, Allen claimed that Dylan had been coached by Farrow. In response to the documentary, Allen denied interview requests for the documentary and described it after the fact as a “hatchet job riddled with falsehoods” and a “shoddy hit piece.”

As a result, Allen v. Farrow v. Skyhorse v. HBO might be up next. 

Skyhorse Publishing, the publisher behind Allen’s latest book, “Apropos of Nothing,” has threatened to sue the makers of the new docuseries for sampling excerpts from the famous director’s audiobook. 

“Neither the producers nor HBO ever approached Skyhorse to request permission to use excerpts from the audiobook,” Tony Lyons, president of Skyhorse said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “[W]e believe that its unauthorized use of the audiobook is clear, willful infringement under existing legal precedent . . . We will take the legal action we deem necessary to redress our and Woody Allen’s rights in his intellectual property,” the statement went on. 

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Cuban Gossip Blogger Perez Hilton Says He ‘Regrets’ the Cruel Way He Used to Write About Britney Spears

Entertainment

Cuban Gossip Blogger Perez Hilton Says He ‘Regrets’ the Cruel Way He Used to Write About Britney Spears

Photos via Getty Images

Recently, there has been quite the reckoning over how the media and society treated Britney Spears in the early 2000s. A scandalous New York Times documentary premiered earlier this month that gave a new perspective on the media’s treatment of Britney Spears.

The documentary, entitled “Framing Britney Spears”, chronicles the media’s inhumane and unethical coverage of the fragile popstar in her darkest moments.

And one media figure in particular is catching a lot of heat for his past behavior: Cuban-American gossip blogger Perez Hilton.

At one point in the documentary, viewers see a 2005 clip of Perez Hilton (born Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr.) seemingly taking delight in Britney’s pain. “Thank you, Britney Spears,” he says while appearing on a talk show. “Being bad is good for my business.”

The clip seemed to spark the public’s collective memory of Perez’s excessive cruelty towards Spears in the glory days of his blog.

Many recognized Perez as the symbol of the 2000s culture of cruelty that drove Britney Spears towards her breaking point.

At the peak of his popularity, Perez would publish blog posts accusing Britney of being an “unfit mother”. Right after Heath Ledger died he sold t-shirts that read: “Why couldn’t have it been Britney?” He would criticize her body, her looks, her mental health, her music, and her parenting skills ad nauseum.

As Wesley Morris, a culture critic from the New York Times and someone who was interviewed in the documentary, put it: “There was too much money to be made off of her suffering.”

Both viewers of the documentary and Britney fans alike took to Twitter to denounce Perez and demand he apologize.

Perez appeared on “Good Morning Britain” on Monday to express his “regret” for his actions, while also seeming to defend his past behavior.

via Good Morning Britain

Having the audacity to wear a Britney Spears t-shirt, Perez said: “I regret a lot or most of what I said about Britney as I’m sure Piers [Morgan] would if he were here, the things he’s said in the past. Thankfully, hopefully, many of us get older, we get wiser.”

Perez then went on to compare his experience to that of Diane Sawyer’s–someone who also caught flack for her disrespectful interview tactics with a young Spears. “You know, somebody that was talked about in this documentary briefly, Diane Sawyer–respected journalist, a good woman–but many people were painting her out to be a villain,” he said.

“I think a lot of fans and folks just want to blame this person and that person and…it’s not as simple as that. There are real mental health issues at play with Britney Spears.”

Possibly. But it’s also possible that her mental health issues might not have spiraled so out of control if vicious bloggers like Perez Hilton would’ve just left her alone.

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