Saturday, May 25, 2024

“Barbie” Parties on Two Coasts: Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Greta Gerwig and the Year’s Biggest Movie

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Note: “Barbie” is getting the red carpet roll out finally after all the strikes prevented promoting movies. The Oscar machine is powering up. If “Barbie” doesn’t make the Oscar Top 10, it will at least win the popular vote for Best Box Office movie. In Los Angeles, Warner Bros. took over the rooftop at the Pendry Hotel, packed it with entertainment press, and brought Greta Gerwig and the cast as well as Billie Eilish, brother Finneas, and music producer Mark Ronson. 

I watched “Barbie” on the flight home from LA last night. It is Gerwig’s singular vision, exploding with color and politics served like a strong pill mashed into apple sauce. Some of it is outstanding. A few things annoyed me, but that’s a guy-thing. Overall, I was much more impressed by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling the second time around. And the production is insanely good. Gosling’s Ken song and Billie’s song “What Was I Made For?” are certainly going to get Best Song nominations. And Rhea Perlman is lovely.–RF

In the doll metaverse, Barbie is queen. A party at New York’s posh Peninsula Hotel brought together her movie creators with members of the Academy to anoint her with awards. The movie about her has had world domination in sales. Even in Morocco — where I saw it when it was released in July along with “Oppenheimer”—famously creating the “Barbenheimer” unit—it was a hit. I was happy to report this to producer/star Margot Robbie, who spear-headed the collaboration with Mattel and starred, and Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, scriptwriters with Gerwig directing. The phenomenon spoke of girl power, and what men have to do to measure up. So where was the movie’s primary Ken, Ryan Gosling?

Ryan Gosling made the movie a musical, his song and dance numbers major entertainment a la “La La Land.” Mark Ronson filled me in on creating the movie’s sound: he just followed Greta’s script. There wasn’t even supposed to be music, but fortunately she, a major music maven, and fan, was keen on creating a sound. Eschewing the pink cocktail of the evening—a Prosecco with cotton candy —  Ronson said he was overstuffed from Thanksgiving with family, and following a routine, waking at 7am to write and invent music. How do you follow up on Barbie? Ronson is writing a book on DJing in the ‘90’s.

“What would I do without acting?” exclaimed Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham agreeing, his “White Lotus” character should be continued into the next season. “Didn’t you love the writing?” he asked. I would follow Mike White’s writing anywhere, he said, so happy to be working. Next up: he’s the husband in the Broadway production of “The Queen of Versailles,” based on Lauren Greenfield’s 2012 excellent riches-to-rags documentary, with Kristin Chenoweth as his wife.

Neil de Grasse Tyson, Katie Couric, Carol Kane, Sandra Bernhard, and many others made the scene celebrating “Barbie.” When I asked Robbie how she would follow up, she said, “You tell me,” even as requests for a sequel swirl. Baumbach quipped, “We’re looking for another doll.”

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