Friday, June 17, 2016

Doreen Mattingly's "A Feminist in the White House"

Doreen Mattingly is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at San Diego State University.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America's Culture Wars:
A Feminist in the White House details the political life of a real person, Margaret “Midge” Costanza, the first female assistant to a president. For the first 20 months of the Carter Administration (1977-81) she was Carter’s “window on America.” Midge was a feisty, funny, big-hearted, short (5’) Sicilian-American politician from upstate New York. Casting her is more an issue of capturing her likeness than of interpreting her character, so she would have to be played by an Italian-American actor who shares her fighting spirit and diminutive height. Janeane Garofalo is my first choice, given her progressive politics and acerbic wit (also she is just 5’1”). If we leave aside the height requirement, Marisa Tomei shares the Sicilian roots and is famously capable of talking tough and Edie Falco is a strong Democrat and a great actor. My friends assure me that the perfect person is Lady Gaga, for whom this could be a breakout role. Gaga shares Costanza’s commitment to LGBTQ rights (and she is only 5’1”) but would she be filmed wearing short black hair and sensible shoes?

Casting President Jimmy Carter is even trickier, since his face is so well known. The book shows Carter in a mixed light; he and Costanza were close friends, and in the end they let each other down. Except for the hilarious impressions by Dan Aykroyd and Joe Piscopo on Saturday Night Live, Carter has rarely been featured in movies or television, so it could really be a defining role. Of course my first choice is Michael Keaton, just so that I might be able to meet him at the opening. Personal fantasies aside, the man for the role is James Spader (who also goes by Jimmy in his personal life). He has the piercing blue eyes and could capture the nuance and complexity of Carter as a leader and a friend.
Learn more about A Feminist in the White House at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Feminist in the White House.

--Marshal Zeringue