The "Juno" effect seems to be reverberating all over the place.
In the year since Diablo Cody’s screenplay became Jason Reitman’s hit film, "Juno," we’ve seen unmarried 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, single 22-year-old Ashlee Simpson and now 17-year-old unmarried Bristol Palin all get pregnant and decide to keep their babies.
Palin, daughter of the proposed Republican nominee for vice president, Sarah Palin, is five months along. If she gives birth in 2008, that means her mom, at 44, will have become a mother and a grandmother in the same year.
For years, advocates on all sides of abortion and birth control issues have agreed on one thing: Unmarried teenagers should not get pregnant. They may have disagreed about whether abstinence or birth control were the best ways to accomplish this, but the end goal was the same.
Then "Juno" came along. Ellen Page’s main character gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up to a couple for adoption. Unlike another movie, the trenchant Alexander Payne film "Citizen Ruth," Juno never considers abortion seriously, so that’s off the table. She spends the entire movie making teen pregnancy look like glib, articulate fun. It’s a win-win situation.
I doubt the writer, Diablo Cody, a former stripper, had in mind to launch a new generation of pregnant unwed teens. But this summer, the soap "One Life to Live" borrowed the story for its teen heroine, Starr Manning. It was only a coincidence that in real life, Jamie Lynn Spears, younger sister of Britney Spears, got herself pregnant by her boyfriend. Then Ashlee Simpson, who’s since married, got into the mix. Even though she was starting to show, she refused to admit what had happened.
In the old days in Hollywood, star actresses hid their unwanted pregnancies lest they be shunned by the audience. I guess the most famous story concerned America’s sweetheart, Loretta Young. It turned out the child she adopted was really the baby she’d given birth to, fathered by mega-star Clark Gable. She kept it a secret, lying even to her daughter, Judy Lewis, until the day she died. (So funny, too, since Judy looks exactly like a combination of the two superstars!)
But "Juno" seems to be having the opposite effect on teens. In liberal Hollywood, that’s what's so interesting. You can keep the baby or have an abortion. But not getting pregnant in the first place is the pre-emptive stance. "Juno" at once violated and vindicated conservative values. The question is, will the public rally ‘round Bristol Palin the way it did Juno? Or will it reject her for getting in this situation in the first place?
A source writes in from Minneapolis, after an eventful day: "The hot place to eat in Minneapolis is Manny's — like The Palm. We ate there tonight. Also eating there were JC Watts, Robert Mosbacher, [power broker] Wayne Berman [of Ogilvy Public/Government Relations], Former Lt. Governor of Maryland Michael Steele, Marlon Fitzwater and lots of Texans. Hanging out at the new Hotel Minneapolis was the cast of 'Just Shoot Me' — including Wendie Malick — and Jon Voight, Tim Daly, Tony Goldwyn, the Creative Coalition."
Monday night’s premiere of "Gossip Girl" was a revelation for this hard-bitten cynic. I’d never actually seen a minute of this water-cooler show for teens.
First impressions? It’s a soap opera, of course, except that the voice-over narration is borrowed heavily from "Sex and the City" right down to Sarah Jessica Parker’s cadences. The observations of the narrator seem more from a 30-something than a high schooler. They should drop that.
Otherwise, "Gossip Girl" is nothing more than Whit Stillman’s landmark movie "Metropolitan" with a bigger budget. I’m surprised he hasn’t complained more loudly. The main female character is named Serena. If you don’t know — I sure didn’t —"Gossip Girl" is based on a series of novels for 15-year-olds, which makes sense, by Cecily Von Ziegesar. As with most book-to-TV transfers, the books have little to do now with the series. The show is "Dynasty" for children. ...
The New York Times obit section strikes again. They didn’t think the death of Robert Winthrop Young Jr. was interesting, but his family did. They bought a long, paid announcement the other day, and it was fascinating: Young developed Ajax, Palmolive and Baggies, and is credited with putting orange juice in wax cartons. It’s some story, and worthy, I think, of an "official" notice. Maybe they don’t use Baggies at the Times. ...
Why is the record business dead? Case in point: a visit to one of the few remaining record stores, an FYE in Connecticut: CDs were priced between $15 and $29. Are these people living in 2008? Are they from another planet? The same music is easily downloaded for $8-10, if not for free. There was not a single customer in the store. The poor clerks were trying to keep each other awake playing trivia games. ...