Sunday, October 31, 2010

Geena Davis - a feminist icon

Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Geena Davis was a featured headliner at the Vision 2020 conference on gender inequality. Davis explained her choice of now iconic roles, “After Earth Girls Are Easy", I only played strong characters – no parts in which I wore a bikini. The only housewife that I played was a dead one. I tried to choose roles that made women feel good about themselves. Women need to come out of the movie theater feeling uplifted."

Off screen as well, Davis has been a leading light in the fight for gender equality. Davis wants women to have their rightful seat at the table. She credits three events for her passion for feminist issues, “Being half of Thelma and Louise, taking up archery at the age of 41, and playing the first woman president.”

Davis is a trustee of the Women's Sport Foundation although she did not take up sports until she starred in “A League of Her Own” at the age of 36. Davis elucidated her fervor for sports now, “Learning a sport changed my self image for the better.”

She actively spreads the gospel of women playing sports because she believes it will help them succeed in the corporate word. “80% of the female managers of Fortune 500 companies played sports. Women playing sports will increase the amount of women managers,” Davis stated.

Davis, a member of the high IQ club Mensa, established the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media after watching cartoons with her then two year old daughter Alizeh. “I noticed that there were far fewer female characters than male in children’s cartoons,” said Davis. “The women drawn by the animators were hyper- sexualized. Their waists were so narrow that there was no room for a womb," lamented Davis.

Davis felt that she could not go to the producers of children’s television without statistics, so she funded the largest study of gender in children’s entertainment ever undertaken. The study from the Annenberg School of the University of Southern California found that there was one female character for every three male roles on children's television. Only 17% of the extras in a crowd scene were female.

The actress believes that fighting for equal representation in children’s television is important because "it is no secret that children watch a lot of television." Davis argues, "Girls and boys have to learn to play in the same sandbox. Studies have shown that girls feel that they have fewer options with the more television they watch. Boys become more sexist."

With the UN as a partner, Davis, armed with her study, has asked the creators of children’s television to reduce gender stereotyping. Children’s television producers are beginning to listen to her and make incremental changes.

An Interview with Senator Durbin

Senator Richard Durbin, the Majority Whip of the US Senate, recently came to Philadelphia because “he needs Joe Sestak in the Senate.” Durbin has been barnstorming the country and donating to the campaigns of his present and future colleagues in the Senate.

In a stop to thank campaign volunteers, Durbin describes his position as Majority Whip, “With all my education and experience, my job comes down to knowing how to count to sixty.”

Durbin poked fun at the Republicans, “The Tea Partiers want to take our country back. The Democrats want to take our country forward.” Durbin added, “The Republicans want to take the security out of social security.” Durbin believes that the Democrats will prevail in the close races because they have momentum on their side.

Durbin, who lost three elections before elected to office, could become Majority Leader of the Senate if Harry Reid loses his re-election bid. He is nervous about Reid’s chances because “the Republicans have raised $14 million to defeat him.” Durbin, not known for his charisma, joked about his ascension to power, “I asked my wife, who was with me from the beginning, if she ever thought, in her wildest dreams, that this would happen. She answered that I wasn’t in her wildest dreams. That’s okay after 43 years of marriage.”

Eschewing the trappings of office, Durbin walked on foot unrecognized by Philadelphians to campaign stops in center city. He did not watch the debate between Senate Candidates Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey at the National Constitutional Center with the dignitaries, but with Democratic Party campaign workers at the local headquarters on Chestnut Street. Durbin reviewed the debate, “I loved Joe Sestak’s comment ‘The constitution says We the people, not We the corporation.”

If the Democrats lose seats in the election, Durbin did not express confidence that much can be accomplished in the next session of Congress. “It was hard to get anything done when we had 60 Democratic votes in Congress,” he noted. “After Scott Brown’s election to the Senate from Massachusetts, we had to secure the vote of a moderate Republican such as Sue Collins and George Voinovich to pass any legislation. Looking at the Republicans that could be elected to Congress in November, the tea baggers in particular, I just do not know if we will be able to work with them.”

Durbin continued, “Maybe Lindsay Graham will work with us on climate change. John McCain, before he ran for the Senate this time, would have helped us with immigration reform. Let’s hope he will do so again.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The show must go on

I was fortunate to attend a performance of the Opera Company of Philadelphia's Otello, Verdi's masterpiece based on Shakespeare's play. It was incredible and most definitely worth seeing. In his best "the show must go on" tradition, Mark Delvan sang the role of Iago in a wheelchair 6 hours after he was released from hospital. He had been in the hospital to repair a tear in his meniscus that occurred during dress rehearsal.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Obama and Biden together in Philly

I thought it was strange that Obama and Biden would both be coming to the rally in Germantown on Sunday especially because the Democrats have little chance of keeping the senate seat or the governor's mansion.This close to the election the President and Vice President usually split up so they can cover my ground and rally more voters. I called a 30 year aide of the Vice President to find out the real reason for the joint appearance.
Biden, who was often considered the third senator from Pennsylvania while Senator, is coming with Obama to the rally because they want to "stop dead in its tracks the rumor" that Clinton and Biden are switching jobs. The White House wants their personal chemistry on display because they do not need the distraction of the Bob Woodward started gossip. Maybe we will get lucky and they will do the tango!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rendell as Obama's Chief of Staff? part two

To follow up to my last post, Rendell told Al Hunt on Bloomberg television this weekend that the only job in Washington that he would take in Washington was to be Obama's chief of staff. His comments might have cost him the job.
My sources in the White House and on the Vice President's staff just laughed. One said," He has real chutzpah going on national television applying for the job. He may be on journalist's wish list but the Obama White House did not previously approach him about the job and now never will.
But having said that, if wanted another job in Washington, he would be considered because he is, after all, Ed."
Rendell went on television because he wants a job, just not the chief of staff job.
Lewis Katz, a close confidant of the governor's said, "The governor told me that there was no way he would take the job as chief of staff."
Another friend of the governor's told me that Rendell is talking to the press because he wants a media contract when his term of office is over. "It is driving him crazy that Eliot Spitzer, who was forced to resign the NY governorship in disgrace over sex with a prostitute, has a show on CNN starting this week."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rendell as Obama's Chief of Staff

I got a chance to catch with Ed Rendell at the opening for the revamped Lights of Liberty Show. (BTW, it is fantastic.)
Both the New York Times and the website Politico put Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on the short list of candidates to replace Emanuel as chief of staff. When Rendell was asked if he would consider the position, he made it clear that was not interested in the job. “ I am not interested in working for someone. The timing is bad. I am committed to finishing my term as governor,” he said. “I am rooting for Governor Kaine gets the job.”
He added, After leaving office, I am going to write a book, give speeches, continue talking about sports for Comcast, and heading up Building America’s Future, the organization that I founded with Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg. But none of these activities pay much or not all so I need to earn money.”
He shrugged his shoulders when asked about returning to the law.