Left-wing British film and television producer Tony Garnett dead at 83

Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.

The highly respected film and television producer, writer and director Tony Garnett died on January 12 after a short illness, aged 83.

Garnett was born Anthony Edward Lewis on April 3, 1936, into a working-class family in Birmingham. His mother died when he was just five years old, of septicaemia two days after a backstreet abortion during the Second World War. His father, a munitions worker, committed suicide 19 days later.

Tony Garnett
Tony Garnett

Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.

Originally an actor, he appeared in television’s The Boys (1962) and Z Cars (1962) and played several small parts in An Age of Kings (1960), the BBC’s influential production of Shakespeare’s history plays.

He moved behind the camera when he was hired as an assistant story editor at the BBC working on The Wednesday Play, which ran from October 1964 to May 1970 and aired more than 170 plays.

This famed series, which addressed social issues before an audience of millions, included the likes of Up the Junction (1965, about abortion), Cathy Come Home (1966, about homelessness), The Lump (1967, about casualised labour in the building industry), In Two Minds (1971, about mental illness as a social problem) and The Big Flame (1969, about a workers’ revolt on the docks), all produced by Garnett. During this period he began long associations with writer Jim Allen, dramatist David Mercer and, most notably, director Ken Loach.

His producing credits include Loach’s Kes (1969), After a Lifetime (1971), Family Life (1971—the film version of In Two Minds), Days of Hope (1975), The Price of Coal (1977) and Black Jack (1978), as well as Roy Battersby’s The Body (1970), Mike Leigh’s Hard Labour (1973), Julien Temple’s Earth Girls Are Easy (1985), Roland Joffe’s Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) and Hettie Macdonald’s Beautiful Thing (1996).

Garnett came into contact with Gerry Healy and the Socialist Labour League, the British Trotskyists, in the late 1960s. Although he never joined the Trotskyist movement, he was instrumental in organising discussions among actors, writers and directors, including Loach, Mercer, Roy Battersby and Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, that led to important gains within these circles. Playwright Trevor Griffiths depicted those meetings in his play, The Party (1973).

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Ricky Gervais Rightly Debunked the Loudest, Most Self-Inflated Hypocrites Around.

The morning after Ricky Gervais let loose on his celebrity audience at the Golden Globes was bound to be a stormy one on social media—not to mention the DM’s of Apple, Amazon, and Hollywood Foreign Press executives. Predictably, many chatterers accused the comic of spreading right-wing talking points, of being just plain unfunny, and, for good measure, of transphobia. To my mind, the most striking response came from the Los Angeles Times’s television critic, Lorraine Ali, in a charge repeated by the New York Times: “Forget the escapist magic of Hollywood,” Ali wrote. “Nihilism was the name of the game.”

Talk about missing the point. Gervais was doing something comics have done through the ages: reminding us that the glamorous emperors might be naked, and the loudest singers in church the most corrupt. “Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China,” he said in one particularly spit-out-your-coffee zinger.

Gervais’s politics are not easy to pigeonhole. He hates Trump, disdains climate-change deniers, and ridicules religion, calling himself a “godless ape” in his Twitter bio. Clearly, he has no love for corporate America. But he also finds elite identity politics and celebrity self-regard absurd. His heterodoxy means he is bound to offend some of his audience whenever he steps on stage. And so he did on Sunday night: “No one cares about movies anymore,” he riffed in his opening monologue to the assembled notables. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you’ve spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.

”Finding this funny—and millions of us did—requires thinking your average Hollywood bigshot is no more knowledgeable or interesting on the great issues of our time than my great aunt Gladys, even though they genuinely think they are. It also requires believing that Hollywood machers have considerable power and money, which means that their opinions, unlike my great aunt’s, have the potential to matter. Like all self-inflated hypocrites, they need debunking.Let’s admit that punching up, Gervais-style, usually comes with a whiff of envy. That’s especially true when it comes to Hollywood’s powerful, who have the added advantage of beauty, world fame, and wealth. Celebrities are to us as Olympian gods were to the ancients; the public wants to pore over details about their clothes, Los Angeles mansions, Aspen chalets, Cabo vacays, love affairs, yoga teachers, facialists, and plastic surgeons. We normal folks can only press our noses against the glass of dazzling parties like the Golden Globes—the name itself carries mythical undertones—with flowers flown in from Ecuador and Italy and a 100 percent plant-based meal, knowing that we will never be allowed in. It’s not fair.

And that’s exactly why Hollywood royalty should stay humble and respect their place in the cultural ecosystem. They are not politicians or Middle East scholars or historians or even ordinary people with an ordinary set of beliefs. They have uncommon power as a result of skills or gifts for which they have been celebrated and handsomely rewarded. They have every right—some might say, every obligation—to spread those rewards to the less fortunate: to fight the fires in Australia and help earthquake victims in Haiti and orphans in Darfur. But to use their position to lecture us about issues that they in all likelihood know about only from what they’ve heard on a friend’s podcast while running on the treadmill is something close to an abuse of power.As if to illustrate Gervais’s point, several actresses took the stage to spread their wisdom to their captive audience of more than 18 million. Patricia Arquette descended into an incoherent rant: “In the history books we will see a country on the brink of war. The United States of America, a President tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives traveling across the world. People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids heads and the continent of Australia on fire. I beg of us all to give them a better world. For our kids and their kids, we have to vote in 2020 and we have to get—beg and plead for everyone we know to vote in 2020.”Michelle Williams, a talented actress, decided that her gift endowed her with the perception to speak for America’s nearly 160 million women. Referring to the need to protect abortion rights, she urged women to vote in their “own self-interest.” “It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them.” Reese Witherspoon tweeted to her compatriot: “Thank you for being a champion of women, you are an inspiration!” Note to Reese and Michelle: you are “championing” barely a half of American women. The rest are ambivalent or in firm disagreement with you. In politicized times like these, there’s an in

Source: Ricky Gervais Rightly Debunked the Loudest, Most Self-Inflated Hypocrites Around.

Golden Globes: every TV win was well deserved – apart from Olivia Colman’s

From Fleabag to Succession, it was hard to disagree with most of the TV awards at this year’s Globes. But all Colman did was sit in a chair looking glum

When it comes to television, the Golden Globes have a long history of getting it wrong. Last year it awarded best comedy to The Kominsky Method, for example. The year before that it went to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Two years before that the HFPA cast its gaze across the comedy landscape and inexplicably decided that nothing was better than Mozart in the Jungle.

With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking something went badly wrong at the Golden Globes last night because, well, its winners were our winners too. Best drama? Succession, which came first in the Guardian’s best TV of 2019 poll. Best comedy? Fleabag, which came second. Best miniseries? Chernobyl, which came third. The acting awards lined up nicely with this, too; Succession’s Brian Cox won best drama actor, Phoebe Waller-Bridge won best comedy actress and Stellan Skarsgård won best supporting actor.

Even when our tastes diverged, it was hard to disagree with the results. Fosse/Verdon was a flawed series, but it nevertheless hinged on Michelle Williams’ totally committed performance, and she was awarded appropriately. Only a handful of people watched Ramy, Ramy Youssef’s autobiographical Hulu comedy, but it was received so well that his win for best comedy actor came as a happy surprise. Even parts of Ricky Gervais’s monologue – the lines about Apple’s sweatshops in particular – were on point. What on Earth is going on?

All this leaves me in something of a dilemma. This is supposed to be the piece where I pull the Golden Globes apart for their poor taste, and revel in all their bad decisions. But I broadly agreed with everything, which puts me in a sticky position. So – and I am truly sorry to do this – it falls to me to take the nuclear option. OK, deep breath.

Olivia Colman should not have won her Golden Globe.

I know. I know. It’s Olivia Colman. She is spectacular in everything, and she’s been spectacular for so long that we’ve come to expect a baseline of excellence from her. Everybody loves Olivia Colman. I love Olivia Colman. Last year was a triumph for her. She was excellent in BBC One’s Les Miserables. She was amazing in Fleabag. The woman won an Oscar last year, for god’s sake.

But I don’t think she deserved to win for The Crown. First, let’s look at who she was up against. She beat Nicole Kidman, who held the second season of Big Little Lies together with her complex portrayal of a woman grieving a man she helped to murder. She beat Jodie Comer, who managed to be even more dazzling and confident in the second season of Killing Eve than she was in the first, which nobody thought possible. She beat Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston for their respective roles in The Morning Show, even though Aniston gave one of the performances of the year.

Meanwhile, Colman sat in a chair. Yes, they were nice chairs. And yes, sometimes they were in different places. And, true, sometimes she did more than sit in a chair. Sometimes she looked out of windows. Sometimes, when something made her furious beyond all comprehension, she very infinitesimally flared her nostrils. But that’s all.

This isn’t a failing of Colman. It’s a failing of The Crown for underusing her, and a failing of Queen Elizabeth II for not being more demonstrative. Had the material been there, Colman would have clearly given a world’s best performance. But it wasn’t, so she spent an entire series of television sitting on her thumb. What a waste of a brilliant performer.

So Olivia Colman shouldn’t have won her Golden Globe, but it’s Olivia Colman so I’m glad she did. Hopefully next year the Golden Globes will go back to being terrible so I have something more substantial to write about.

Source: Golden Globes: every TV win was well deserved – apart from Olivia Colman’s | Television & radio | The Guardian

Brian Cox wins Golden Globe for  ‘Succession’

Dundee-born actor Brian Cox has won his first Golden Globe, with his hometown playing a part in securing the prestigious award. Cox won the best actor award for his role as media company mogul Logan Roy in the HBO series Succession

 

Brian Cox plays a ruthless patriarch and media titan on HBO’s hit show “Succession.” His next role is LBJ on Broadway. Listen to the ON POINT interview.

Brian Cox, actor who stars in HBO’s “Succession” as Logan Roy, the aging patriarch of a global media conglomerate. He also stars as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Broadway play “The Great Society,” which opens Oct. 1.

Vox: “The rise of Succession, TV’s new must-watch show” — “Things have gone from bad to worse to worse to worse for Kendall Roy, the would-be tycoon and formerly most trusted son of Logan Roy, the media titan whose family sits at the center of HBO’s marvelous Succession.

“Kendall’s efforts to oust his dad from the CEO chair unraveled multiple times. He started using again, feeding a drug addiction that became a tabloid scandal when he last was consumed by it. His former marriage is now completely broken, and his kids seem to barely know him. And just when he thought he might be able to stand up to his domineering father, tragic circumstance conspired to draw him ever closer to the family he longed to shed like an ill-fitting skin.

“And that was just in season one. The moment that crystallizes how far Kendall has fallen comes halfway through season two. After a night of genuine connection with another person with addiction, he wakes up to find the sheets of his bed caked in his own shit. As a visual metaphor, it’s perhaps a bit too cheeky — Kendall shits the bed again! But the way he simply sighs and gets on with his life is telling.”

Slate: “Being Laughable Doesn’t Make Succession’s Characters Any Less Dangerous” — “With only one win for creator Jesse Armstrong’s writing, HBO’s Succession was a relatively minor presence at this past Sunday’s Emmy Awards. That likely won’t be the case next year. With its 2019 season opening to record ratings, laudatory reviews, and a greater presence in social media conversations, Succession has clearly come into its own in its sophomore year and is all but certain to be a leading contender in most drama categories at the 2020 Emmys. At which point an old argument is likely to resume: Should Succession be competing as a drama at all? Isn’t it actually a comedy?

“Succession’s proper categorization has been the subject of much discussion since its debut last year. The story of the Roy family, the primary owners of the corporate empire Waystar Royco (which comprises a Fox News–like media network as well as amusement park and luxury cruise divisions), seems at first glance to be a prestige-drama staple: the King Lear–style power struggle. Four adult children—shrewd-but-broken Kendall (Jeremy Strong), even-more-shrewd-but-self-sabotaging Shiv (Sarah Snook), miserably-self-aware jackass Roman (Kieran Culkin), and irrelevant doofus Connor (Alan Ruck)—vie against one another over which will succeed their powerful-but-fading father, Logan (Brian Cox), as the head of the kingdom-corporation. Blue-chip prestige helmers like Mark Mylod direct scenes in multiple gorgeously art-directed locations, and the storylines delve into family trauma and power brokering in smoke-filled rooms. All of that seems to add up to a show that belongs in the drama category.

“At the same time, though … it’s hilarious. The Roy children are constantly equivocating their way through situations where they’re clearly out of their depth. Audience-favorite supporting characters Tom Wambsgans (Shiv’s husband, played by Matthew Macfadyen) and Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) are already a bickering double act for the ages. Recapping sites and podcasts are spoiled for choice of withering put-downs to celebrate. More than one viewer has pointed out that Succession often plays like a bizarrely somber take on Arrested Development, with an analogous version of nearly every character from that celebrated sitcom. Considered on a macro episode-by-episode level, Succession is a dark tragedy about the abuses of the super-rich and the legacies of family dysfunction. But the minute-to-minute experience of watching it isn’t that different from Veep or Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

New York Times: “‘The Great Society,’ About L.B.J., Is Coming to Broadway” — “As soon as the Tony-winning ‘All the Way’ closed on Broadway, the playwright, Robert Schenkkan, turned his attention to the sequel.

“Five years, endless rewrites and several productions later, that new play, ‘The Great Society,’ is coming to Broadway.

“The producer Jeffrey Richards announced on Thursday that he would present a 12-week run of the play, starting Sept. 6, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (which, although located at Lincoln Center, is considered a Broadway house).

“The play will star Brian Cox (“Succession”) as President Johnson, and the production will be directed by Bill Rauch, who also directed ‘All the Way.’ “

Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.
Source: Actor Brian Cox On The Success Of ‘Succession’