Portman Replaces Lopez in ‘Love’

Natalie PortmanFollowing the abrupt departure of Jennifer Lopez from the adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,” Variety reports that producers on the film cast Natalie Portman for the lead.

Other stars include Scott Cohen and Charlie Tahan. The film is written and directed by Don Roos and produced by Marc Platt. Shooting is set to begin Nov. 10.

The film’s budget, Variety suggests, is less than $15 million.

Portman, who at one time was linked to star in the adaptation of Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” will get an executive producer credit under her Handsome Charlie Films banner. David Molner, chairman of Incentive Filmed Entertainment, says Portman’s casting saved the film.

“We were left in the lurch by one actress and rescued by another,” Molner said. “It goes to show that, particularlywith independent features, nothing is more important than the talent. It’s a blessing that Natalie loved the script and now we’ve got a strong film that we can sell at [the American Film Market].”

Chabon’s Take on the Conventions

I apologize in advance, but I simply did not realize until today that Michael Chabon was podcasting the Democratic National Convention for The New York Review of Books. The first podcast, on Aug. 27, covers “Hillary Clinton, the new face of the Democratic party, and the mood in Denver.” The second, from Wednesday, is a review of Obama’s performance and Chabon’s take on Sarah Palin.

“The increasing diversity of America, which has always been a fundamental part of America, is so clearly reflected in this party, and I think it really makes you see what a perfect candidate to lead the party Barack Obama is,” Chabon says in one podcast. (Props to the UK’s Telegraph for transcribing the quote.)

A written account is coming soon, according to the Telegraph.

While we’re going through Chabon-related political news that I was oblivious to this week, Ayelet Waldman spoke with Forward about the convention experience. “It was like a Grateful Dead concert in the ’70s,” Waldman said. “Wherever you were you had instant best friends.”

Oh, and I also neglected to inform you that Waldman was blogging about the convention for New York Magazine. They’re still worth reading today, though. (Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself today to make up for not telling you two weeks ago.)

Waldman Aims to be a Delegate

Ayelet Waldman is hoping to become one of 241 delegates from California for the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Waldman is sending out viral e-mails to get picked for a slot as an Obama delegate. An election is being held today at 3 p.m. PST.

“(One hundred) people is A LOT of people. Way more people than I know,” Waldman wrote in her e-mail. “Which is why I’m asking – no BEGGING – you to turn out, bring your loved ones, sign up to vote for me and (her running mate Fred Feller) and then, if you like, come over to my house for a thank you party.”

Feller is an attorney with Berkley-based law firm Buresh Kaplan Jang & Feller.

Waldman also put up posters made by Michael Chabon at the local grocery store and campaigned door-to-door.

“But I’m a mother of four. I understand that things can come up on a Sunday afternoon,” she said. “I’m just hoping that people come. I’m hoping that they can find parking.”

She faces heavy competition: 101 people are competing for four seats.

Update: Waldman was kind enough to give me a copy of the viral e-mail she’s been using in her campaign. We’ll keep you posted on if she wins or loses today. In the meanwhile, here’s the e-mail:

    Hey folks, (those who live in Barbara Lee’s Congressional District): I am running for election to become a pledged Delegate for Obama in Congressional District 9 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I’m desperate to go, as are, I imagine, any number of people. But I’m willing to be that there are few people in this district who have done as much for Obama as I have. Or who are as insane about this election as I am. My brother-in-law says I am suffering from OCD — Obama Compulsive Disorder.

    The system is a little nutty, but it works like this. On Sunday, April 13th there will be a Caucus held in Oakland, at the Beebe Memorial Cathedral at 3900 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609. You must show up in person at 2 pm, sign up to vote for me, and then leave. Or you could stay and listen to the speeches. But there’s really no reason to do that unless you’re curious or enjoy that kind of thing.

    There are 58 people running to be pledged delegates, and only 2 slots for a female. My friend Fred Fuller, who worked in the Obama Election Protection boiler room I ran out of my kitchen, is also running. As we’re not competing for the same seat, Fred and I are running together, asking our friends if they can come and vote for both of us. I’ve heard from the campaign that unless I turn out 100 people, I’m not going to get a spot. 100 people is A LOT of people. Way more people than I know. Which is why I’m asking — no BEGGING — you to turn out, bring your loved ones, sign up to vote for me and Fred, and then, if you like, come over to my house for a thank you party. If you have other folks you want to vote for, you can vote for them, too. You can place votes up to the total number of delegates allowed.

    For those of you who don’t already know the extent of my OCD, let me tell you what I’ve done for Obama.

    1. I’ve travelled. I went and canvassed and site managed a caucus in Nevada (like many of you did). I went and worked in the Voter Protection boiler room in South Carolina, making sure that every single Obama voter got to vote. I went to Texas to do Voter Protection, too, and ended up site managing 3 caucus sites, because folks in Texas had no idea what was going on. The rules were new, and crazy, and with my single caucus experience I was the oldest hand in the room.

    2. I ran Voter Protection, Northern California. I recruited and trained lawyers to staff polling sites in Northern California. I ran the Alameda county program, which involved putting lawyers at more than 50 polling sites, running the boiler room out of my kitchen, where a small team of us answered phone and trouble-shot from 5 am through 10 pm. Prevailing upon a judge who was a friend, we managed to get the polls held open an extra couple of hours due to voting irregularities.

    3. I’ve organized fundraisers. With Linda Gage I put together a Writing for Change event in Berkeley. I arranged to have Tobey Wolff, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Dave Eggers and my husband, Michael Chabon, speak at the event. We raised over $70,000. That event was replicated in NYC to great success. I organized another event with Mari Mayeda at which MichaelPollan spoke. We raised $60,000. I helped Jean Driscoll with her event, managing the on line part of it. I’ve also “hosted” two other events – which basically means I just brought in $25,000.

    4. I’ve made, like many of you, countless phone calls to friends and strangers, alike, canvassing. I’m amazed at how successful these phone efforts have been and I urge you to try doing it, if you haven’t already. Email me and I’ll tell you how.

    5. I’ve written articles in the SF Chronicle and the Washington Post about Barack. The Wash Po one was widely disseminated. Since no one reads the Chronicle, no one saw that one. 😉

    6. I’m on the Northern California Finance Committee and the Women for Obama Leadership Committee.

    7. I’ve appeared as an “Obama surrogate” at events in the East Bay, one of which involved convincing a room full of elderly Jewish voters that Obama is not a Muslim. Lovely people, but a challenge, let me tell you.

    8. Michael and I have raised $65,000 on the internet, and he drafted the preamble to the arts policy, has written op eds about Barack, and has given a little input on speeches.

    So that’s me. I’ll also say that I’m desperate to go to the convention. This experience has profoundly changed my life. I feel like ever since my children were born I’ve been telling them a story about America, how we are the land of Martin Luther King, of Susan B. Anthony, of war resisters, suffragettes, and abolitionists. When I’ve told my kids these stories, I often felt like I was lying to them. We tell them about Jim Crow like it was the past. But we all know that there are huge divides between the races. After Barack’s eloquent and profound speech, after seeing black and white people unite in South Carolina, I suddenly feel like maybe I won’t need to lie to my children anymore. Barack Obama’s election will mean so much to us as a country. Everything changes on the day he takes the Oath of Office. Don’t get me wrong. I know he’ll be inheriting a hellish nightmare wrought by Bush, and he will have to knock himself out to make things even a little better, but the very fact of his election will begin that process.

    I always used to say that America gets the president it deserves. We deserved Reagan, we deserved George Bush, we even deserved the wasted opportunity that was Bill Clinton. I’m betting everything on the hope that now, at this moment, America deserves Barack Obama.

    I hope you’ll consider coming out and supporting me. Please let me know if you can make it.


Mysteries Clip Online

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Sundance Film Festival this week to see Mysteries of Pittsburgh premier, Spike TV is hosting online an interview with Rawson Marshall Thurber that features a clip from the film.

And never fear — while in the past some Sundance films have found themselves abandoned without a home and never to be seen in wide distribution, odds are good that Mysteries will get purchased thanks to the writer’s strike. The New York Times on Thursday profiled Groundswell Productions, the house behind Mysteries and two other competitors at the festival.

Ayelet Tackles Britney

Ayelet Waldman has a piece in this issue of New York Magazine bashing Britney Spears and other bad mommies.

“Lately, Britney Spears has stepped up as our reigning bogeymama—her rap sheet long and varied and featuring, most recently, a standoff with the police and a stay in the psych ward,” Waldman writes. “She’s a Bad Mother; no worse, perhaps, than her own mother, whose publisher wisely shelved plans for her parenting memoir after 16-year-old Jamie Lynn announced that she’d just been jumped into the Bad Mother gang.”