What would happen if Medea was making the media rounds to promote her sensational new book?
No, not Tyler Perry’s “Madea”…
I’m talking about the infamous ancient Medea: the barbarian demigoddess of Greek mythology.
Medea’s lurid autobiography – a story of adventure, romance, scandal, revenge and murder — would be as big a bestseller today as it was back when the Oracle at Delphi drew bigger ratings than Fox News.
The same book publishers, news media and television networks that shamelessly flog the latest tell-all tomes by the famous and fallen would love to put Medea on the talk show circuit.
In recent years, the American public has shown either an increasing appetite for scandal or a short memory or both.
It’s one thing for author Andrew Morton to cash in by writing Monica’s Story, the authorized biography of Monica Lewinsky – but quite another for Monica herself to parade in front of the media like she’d actually accomplished something other than being a Friend of Bill with Benefits.
And while it took lots of chutzpah for a philandering, ethically disgraced politician like New Gingrich to write a book called Rediscovering God in America – the media hacks who interviewed Newt on his book tour (like Fox’s Sean Hannity) rarely, if ever, bothered to mention Newt’s serial adultery or the fact that he was the first Speaker of the House in history to be disciplined for ethical misconduct.
It’s even more ironic when you realize that Newt’s co-author, his third wife Callista Gingrich, was the woman he was having an affair with during the Congressional investigation of Bill Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. And, how’s this for scandalous symmetry? Callista is 23 years younger than Newt: Monica is 27 years younger than Bill. Betcha Sean Hannity didn’t point that out.
And, like rubber-neckers at the scene of a traffic accident, there’s a segment of the public that just can’t ignore a book like Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour, in which conservative former mega-church pastor Ted Haggard’s wife, Gayle Haggard, explained why she stayed with the holy rolling hypocrite after a 2006 scandal revealed his drug use and “massages” by a male prostitute.
Still, compared to Medea, these scandals are tame and not likely to stay anywhere near as long on the bestseller list. After all, Medea’s story has been a classic in print for more than 2,400 years.
The basics of Medea’s tale are headline-making stuff indeed. The daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, Medea was the granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later married the celebrated hero Jason (the guy with Argonauts). After helping Jason win immortal fame by bringing back the Golden Fleece, she settled down with him and they had two kids. Then, things broke bad for Medea.
According to Euripides in his play Medea, Jason dumped Medea for a younger woman, (Just like Newt Gingrich did.) It was William Congreve who wrote, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That would make a good title for Medea’s tell-all book: an account of how she got her revenge on Creon, Glauce and Jason.
How did Medea get her revenge? If you don’t already know, hold on. I’m coming to that…
In recent decades, the character of Medea has been portayed by a trio of the greatest Greek actresses: Maria Callas, Melina Mercouri — and Victoria Zielinski.
In 1970, the opera singer Maria Callas starred in Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film adaptation of Medea. And in the 1978 film A Dream of Passion – the great Melina Mercouri (who was such a Greek national treasure they put her on a postage stamp) played as an actress portraying Medea who seeks out a mother who, like Medea, recently killed her children.
As for Victoria Zielinski, she was one of two exceptional women to address the Medea role in notable Los Angeles area productions in the past year. The three-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening played Medea in UCLA Live’s staging of the classic at the Freud Playhouse last fall. Bening got great reviews. But Victoria got a lot more laughs.
Here’s Victoria playing Medea in “The Vic & Paul Show” this past June at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills.
The video clip doesn’t quite capture Drew McCoy’s great lighting plot, Emilia Barrosse’s timing on the light cues, or Shelly Goldstein’s dramatic direction — which made the live experience very special. But Victoria’s bravura performance blends Callas, Mercouri and Arianna Huffiington into a Medea to remember…
Which brings us back to the opening question: What would happen if Medea was making the media rounds to promote her sensational new book?
Date Night Decision
Rarely does one weekend provide such a dramatic cinematic dichotomy: the ultimate guy movie vs. the classic chick flick.
I’m an unabashed Sylvester Stallone fan. From ”Rocky” to “Cop Land” to “Rocky Balboa”, I’ve enjoyed watching Stallone on the big screen: a macho not-all-that-guilty pleasure. So, as the weekend approached, and the big Friday 13th movie premieres loomed, my choice was easy. I suggested to my wife Victoria that we go see Stallone’s latest action opus “The Expendables” – and she agreed.
I wasn’t sure that Victoria was truly prepared for the level of sense-surround mayhem and bloodshed she might witness, but she knew “The Expendables” was a guy thing – and an older guy thing at that. For a 52-year old gym rat like me, the opportunity to sit in the dark next to my hot wife, eating popcorn and watching Stallone and his mercenary buddies kick butt and crack wise, constituted the perfect date night.
Then, this morning, as I stepped out of the shower, my wife presented me with a new idea.
“What do you think,” she asked, “about seeing ‘Eat Pray Love’ instead?”
It was almost too much to wrap my soggy head around. “The Expendables” vs. “Eat Pray Love”. What’s a guy to do?
It was obvious that my darling wife would prefer the gauzy, romantic, introspective Julia Roberts vehicle to watching Sly and the boys wreak havoc on a fictional South American island. And at such a moment the less experienced, less mature husband or boyfriend might have been in a quandary. But I held firm, secure in the knowledge that my marriage was strong enough to withstand my choice of a potentially corny comic-book action yarn over the filmed adaptation of a romantic, best-selling, Oprah Book Club-selected memoir of one woman’s search for self.
Luckily for me, Victoria is one of only six or seven women in the U.S. who has not read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book. So, it was relatively easy for me to make a quick deal with my entirely reasonable wife. We agreed to see “The Expendables” tonight (Friday the 13th) and catch a weekend matinee of “Eat Pray Love”. Having had my testosterone level sufficiently pumped up by Stallone’s high-explosive heroics, I could withstand the mellowing, sensitive and emotional travails of Julia Roberts on a round-the-world journey of self-discovery after a bitter divorce.
Tonight, as we wait in line for the opening of Stallone’s summer blockbuster, it will be interesting to see the group lining up for the other blockbuster, “Eat Pray Love”.
How many men in the “Eat Pray Love” line will be looking over at guys like me with a hangdog, wish-I-was-you look? And how will the women in line for “The Expendables” differ from those in the queue for Julia Roberts?
Which couples will look like either “The Expendables” or “Eat Pray Love” was their one and only possible choice between the two films? And how many other couples will look like they might have made the same deal that Victoria and I made?
The people-watching might be as fun as the film.
As for the under-30 crowd, there’s no choice to be made. They won’t be in either of those two lines.
They’ll be with their dates waiting to see that other summer blockbuster: the one starring the completely anti-Stallone movie hero, Michael Cera, and a non-Julia Roberts-type heroine named Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
“Scott Pilgrim Saves the World”.
And that is as it should be.
Definitely not Sly Stallone and Julia Roberts.
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Tagged as action film, blockbuster, chick flick, Cop Land, Eat Pray Love, Jet Li, Julia Roberts, Michael Cera, movies, Oprah Book Club, Rocky, Scott Pilgrim, Stallone, The Expendables