QueenRuler to Queen ~ Divas to Dreamgirls

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A break from the soaps, or just soap operas of another form?


Linda Marshall-Smith, Soapdom, CEOHi Suds Buds,

It’s been a while since I’ve graced your presence with a Top of the Week.  It’s not that there isn’t anything to say about soap operas, it is just that we say it in so many other places here on the site. Like the Newsflash section. Or Inside the Bubble. Not to mention all the casting news, episode recaps, sneak peeks and suds buzz we publish. Phew, it’s all I can do to keep up.

Which is why on the weekends, I like to step back from soaps and get engrossed in a trashy novel (right now I am reading “Lovers and Players,” the NY Times Bestseller by Jackie Collins. It’s her 25th book and boy, she has still got it.  This book is full of gorgeous men and women, backstabbing dads and unscrupulous business men. It could be the storyline of any daytime soap. Hands down!  I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Collins recently, and she is an amazing women. She faced quite a number of challenges, one of which was being the little sister of movie/television star, Joan Collins, and living in Joan’s shadow most of her life. Until, of course, she came into her own as a renowned author, script writer and producer -- a very inspiring woman.

Also, on the weekends, if I don’t get out to the movies, I try to pick up a couple of DVDs and catch up on some major films that I missed on the big screen for some reason or other.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing both The Queen and Dreamgirls.  Two totally different kinds of movies, but both possessing a bit of the soap opera-esque. 

The Queen DVD on sale April 24, 2007The Queen I wanted to see on the big screen. Just before the Academy awards, my husband and I went out whole hog to catch as many of the nominated films as we could.  The Queen seemed to allude us, however, as it’s not the kind of movie I can usually get him into theatres to see, despite it’s accolades. Once I got my copy of the DVD from Disney, I was overjoyed. At last I could get to see what all the fuss was about, especially the Oscar-winning performance of Helen Mirren. 

The movie did not disappoint.  In case you don’t know, in The Queen acclaimed director Stephen Frears (Mrs. Henderson Presents, Dirty Pretty Things, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters) pulls back the curtain on the private chambers of the royal family in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, where the contained, traditional world of the Queen of England (Helen Mirren) is brought into conflict with the public, modern Prime Minister (Michael Sheen) and a nation looking to its leaders for guidance in dark times.  Dramatic and revealing, the story of The Queen was drawn from extensive interviews, research, discreet sources and informed imagination.

Mirren was amazing as the Queen.  It may not be easy to agree with her strategy in dealing with the aftermath of Princess Diana’s untimely and unfortunate demise, but through Mirren’s pristine performance, you can’t help emphasize with the aging monarch who is definitely feeling the changing tides of a more modern world, but is clueless in dealing with them.

Get this. The day after I saw the DVD, a news story hit the airwaves. It seems that Prince William and his school girlfriend, Kate Middleton, had broken up. According to The First Post, the UK’s online daily magazine, all thought the two would marry, but now that’s just not in the cards. One radio entertainment reporter in the LA market announced that the Queen couldn’t have been more delighted over the break up, and quite possibly could have instigated it.  The reporter stated on air, that allegedly the Queen told William in regard to the popular Middleton, “that’s all we’d need is another Diana on our hands.”  Quite the fitting real-life story to hear after seeing The Queen on DVD.  But a very harsh comment, if indeed it was true. After all, Diana is Prince William’s late mum.

Along with the amazing performance of Helen Mirren in The Queen is the overlooked, yet fantastic, performance of her co-star, British up and comer, Michael Sheen, who played The Prime Minister. It was almost as if it was really his movie dealing with the Queen’s archaic methods and finally got her to see the light. 

The DVD, which is on sale now and is available on amazon.com, comes complete with a bunch of special features, including a “Making of The Queen” featurette plus feature-length commentary from helmer Stephen Frears, writer Peter Morgan, and British historian/Royal Expert and author of “Majesty,” Robert Lacey.

Dreamgirls DVD, on sale May 1, 2007I also had the pleasure of seeing Dreamgirls on DVD.  (On sale May 1st, but you can pre order now on amazon.com.)  Dreamgirls was one of this year’s Oscar Nominees that I did get to see on the big screen, but the Dreamgirls Showstopper Edition two disc DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD feature a wealth of thrilling bonus material with 12 extended and alternate scenes including a DVD-exclusive, never-before-seen performance by Jennifer Hudson of “Effie Sing My Song,” a feature-length documentary entitled “Building the Dream” presented in nine chapters, behind-the-scenes featurettes on the costume design, editing and lighting of the film, cast member auditions and screen tests, previsualization sequences and more.  Dreamgirls also will be available as a single disc DVD that features 12 extended and alternate scenes including the Jennifer Hudson performance and a music video directed by Bill Condon for Beyoncé’s Oscar-nominated song “Listen.”

Again, in case you didn't know, with showstopping performances by a star-studded cast, Dreamgirls is the amazing story of three female singers who learn that anything is possible when you hold on to your dreams. But make no mistake about it.  It could be the basis of a plot of your favorite soap!  There’s backstabbing, babies out of wedlock, a meteoric rise to fame. The only thing it didn’t have was the requisite evil twin or a case of amnesia.
But Grammy winner Beyoncé Knowles (Deena), Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (Curtis) and Golden Globe winner Eddie Murphy (James “Thunder” Early) shine in unforgettable roles that display their matchless talents.  And, Jennifer Hudson (Effie) is a revelation in the breakthrough performance that earned her the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.  Based on the Tony Award®-winning Broadway hit and directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon (screenwriter of Chicago), the Oscar-winning Dreamgirls is a triumph of movie entertainment that will dazzle you again and again.  I am still disappointed that Eddie Murphy did not win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. His performance as James “Thunder” Early was truly worthy.

Looks like it's more difficult than I thought to break away from the soap operaesque.  :o)

Til next time,

Linda Marshall-Smith


Linda Marshall-Smith
CEO & QueenRuler