Q: Any update on the Dusty Springfield movie Kristin Chenoweth is starring
in besides what Kristin said about it in her
interview last month?
— Sinclair, Amsterdam
A: According to industry sources, the film (which we first
reported on in 2005) is very much on the fast track, and out writer/director Jessica Sharzer has just turned in a polish of her screenplay.
But Viacom and
CBS reportedly have a competing project in the works produced by CSI star Jorja Fox and based on the live stage show Stay
Forever: The Life and Music, written by and starring Kirsten
Holly Smith. (Fox produced
the stage show at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theater.)
Q: I saw Ashley Judd’s name on the list of people attending Obama’s
inauguration ceremony, and it got me wondering what she’s doing these days. Is
she still acting?
— Tracy, London, England
A: Although she starred in the recent horror flick Bug,
Ashley’s been spending more time as an activist than an actor in the last few
Judd is a prominent women’s right activist, serving as a global ambassador
for YouthAIDS, a board member of Population Services International, and a global
ambassador for its Five & Alive initiative, which aims to improve the health
of children under five.
She garnered a flurry of press attention in September for saying
that women voting for the McCain-Plain ticket were like "chickens voting
for Colonel Sanders" (referring to McCain’s record on reproductive health
But the plight of poor children in Africa is the cause Judd appears to be most passionate
about. Her online
diary about her experiences in Rwanda and Congo got a lot of pick-up, and
Newsweek‘s Christopher Dickey wrote
after interviewing her in late October, "I’ve talked to any number of stars
who’ve adopted causes, but she was the first I’d interviewed since Audrey Hepburn
back in 1992 whose descriptions of what she saw made me see the suffering for
Judd speaking at a U.N. press conference
on human trafficking in June
She has not left acting behind, though — Ashley appears in three
films slated to debut in 2009.
The first and most promising is the indie drama Helen, written and
directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, in which Judd stars as a talented
music professor, wife (Goran Visnjic plays her husband), and
mother whose struggle with clinical depression is helped by friendship with
a female student, played by Lauren Lee Smith — aka
Lara the Soup Chef from The L Word. (Although the two women share a
kiss in the trailer, don’t get too excited — it isn’t that kind of friendship.)
The movie debuts at Sundance
later this month. (Random trivia: Gillian Anderson was originally
cast as the lead, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.)
Next is Crossing Over, a serious and controversial drama
about illegal immigration. The film co-stars Harrison Ford,
Ray Liotta, and Sean Pean and is currently
set to debut on Feb. 27. (Watch
the trailer here.)
Finally, she has a small role in the upcoming film Tooth Fairy (November
2009), as the girlfriend of the main character played by Dwayne "The Rock"
Johnson, a minor-league hockey player who is sentenced to serve a week as a
real-life tooth fairy. (Yes, someone seriously pitched that plot, and a studio
actually bought it. Oy.)
Judd is also trying her hand at screenwriting, adapting Robin Morgan’s novel
The Burning Time about an Irish priestess who refuses to take orders
from the Catholic Church during the time of the Inquisition. But no word on
when or if that screenplay will make it to production.
For more photos and news about Ashley, check out the fan site ashley-judd.com.
NEXT PAGE: an update on Y: The Last Man movie