By Nate Bloom
Transparent Plans Ahead
A year ago, Jeffrey Tambor, now 74, the star of the Amazon series Transparent, was fired after accusations from other cast members that he sexually harassed them. Transparent creator Jill Soloway, 53, canceled the show’s pending fifth season following the firing. After Tambor was let go, Soloway said she wasn’t sure whether Transparent would continue in any form. Well, she’s changed her mind: Transparent will return to Amazon with a two-hour final movie musical that will premiere sometime later this year. Soloway also plans to make a cast album of the musical version with an eye toward possibly bringing the musical to Broadway.
Before the first TV episode aired, Jill and her sister, Faith Soloway, 54, an accomplished composer and lyricist, kicked around the idea that it could be a musical TV series. As the series aired, Faith tested out songs she wrote based on the series’ themes and characters before patrons of an artsy NYC pub. Transparent is partially autobiographical: The sisters’ Jewish father, like Tambor’s Jewish character Maura, came out late-in-life as transgender. Jill says: “The songs are coming from a deep place inside of our own family’s history.”
The entire TV cast (except Tambor) was recruited for the musical movie. Soloway told Variety that Judith Light, 70, (who plays Shelly Pfefferman, Maura’s Jewish ex-wife) will be the film’s focal point, and the plot will take off from where the fourth season ended. Soloway says about Light: “[Light] was unbelievable singing and dancing, doing these kicks … She’s more in shape, more energetic, more alive than everybody on the set. We all just worship her … I love having Shelly have the lead and let her have her storyline. Because we got to cast so many people dancing, we cast a lot of women who are over 65 and 70. Old Jews love the show, and I’m happy to make television for them.”
Lowdown on Fox News
The documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes played a limited number of theaters last year and garnered mostly good reviews. It will premiere on TV on Sunday, March 3 (A&E cable, 9 p.m., many encore showings). Ailes was made head of Fox News when it started in 1996, and he remained head of the controversial conservative news outlet until he was fired in 2016, following many accusations of sexual harassment. He died in 2017.
The documentary traces his life, which included being a media adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Ailes was the dominant force in creating the Fox News “us against them” sensibility.
The documentary was made by Alexis Bloom, 43. Born in South Africa, she moved to England in 1988 for her education, and she earned undergrad and grad degrees from Cambridge University. She moved to the States in 2000, working first as a journalist and, later, a documentary maker. Her longtime partner is actor/director Fisher Stevens, 55. They have two young children and wed in 2017. Stevens and Bloom together made the critically acclaimed 2016 HBO documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. You may recall it aired just weeks after the sudden “back-to-back” deaths of Carrie Fisher and Reynolds.