At the Movies

Lawrence Van Gelder

February 22, 1991

Article taken from The New York Times

McDonnell After ‘Wolves’

“It’s been great, really,” said Mary McDonnell. “I’ve been reading lots and lots of scripts.”

The actress — a nominee for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her portrayal of Stands With a Fist, the settler’s daughter brought up by Indians in Kevin Costner’s accolade-bedecked movie “Dances With Wolves” — was discussing the impact of the role on her career.

And she has already made the choice of her next film. Just before the middle of March, Ms. McDonnell said, she expects to go before the cameras in Los Angeles in “Grand Canyon,” a comedy-drama written, produced and directed by Lawrence Kasdan and co-starring Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Steve Martin and Mary Louise Parker.

Ms. McDonnell will be playing the role of Claire, a wife and mother (Mr. Kline plays her husband) living in Los Angeles. “Basically,” she said of the story, “it just follows the lives of some people who are all living in the same city, and there is a weaving of interaction.”

Explaining what drew her to the role, Ms. McDonnell said, “I wanted to work with Larry Kasdan, and I was attracted to a contemporary story and attracted to the comedy.” Mr. Kasdan’s films include “The Big Chill,” “Silverado” and “The Accidental Tourist.”

When it comes to preparing for her portrayals, the actress said: “I pretty much follow my nose with each one because they all have such wildly different requirements. I try to see what happens when I begin to absorb the text.” The outcome, she said, is different each time. And Now, a Psychiatrist

Another actress who has the knack of seeming different each time she crops up on screen is Kathy Baker. Think of the gritty Times Square prostitute in “Street Smart,” with Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman. Think of the wallflower sister in “Jacknife,” with Ed Harris and Robert De Niro. Think of Joyce, the village vamp in “Edward Scissorhands,” with Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.

Ms. Baker’s latest creation is Diana, a psychiatrist, in “Article 99,” co-starring Ray Liotta and Kiefer Sutherland and filmed recently in Kansas City, Mo., under the direction of Howard Deutch.

“It’s kind of a black comedy about the blundering bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration hospital system,” Ms. Baker said. “Ray and Kiefer Sutherland play doctors, and we’re all battling the administration for the good of the patients.”

Ms. Baker described Diana by saying: “She’s serious about her work. She wants to play by the rules. Ray is a very irreverent doctor, and it is his character who turns her around and convinces her that for the good of the patients, she has to bend a few rules. That is how she changes and grows in the picture.”

The actress noted that directors tend to cast her in serious roles, which is why she welcomed the opportunity to play the voracious Joyce in Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands.”

“I was looking for a comedy, and you know I don’t get to play comedy very much,” she said. “So my agent asked if I would like to do a small part in a Tim Burton movie; I jumped at the chance.”

The preparation process for playing Joyce was easy, Ms. Baker said. “I always say that my team created her for me,” she said, referring to the people who provided her clothing, wig and makeup. “When I got into my wardrobe and put on that red wig plus the long nails, it just seemed like I didn’t have to do anything.” New Anti-Pirate Campaign

Psst! Wanna buy a tape of “Home Alone”? Cheap. Only 10 bucks.

Of course when you get it home alone, inside the cassette will be a blank tape. But according to the Motion Picture Association, which casts a jaundiced eye over dealers in pirate videocassettes, the scam has been attracting buyers in midtown Manhattan.

The blank tape comes in a black box, labeled with a 35-millimeter color snapshot of a poster for the hit movie.

In an update of the campaign against pirates that it began in 1975, the association reports that during 1991, it executed raids against 362 video outlets in the United States, most of them dealing in pirated or illegally copied videotapes at the retail level.

The organization has also turned its attention to satellite dealerships that sell illegally altered decoders that permit viewers to receive pay-television signals for which they have not paid. The association said its investigators had assisted in 30 raids against satellite pirates during 1990, a 58 percent increase over the number of raids in 1989.

The association reported that a total of 180,062 pirated videocassettes were seized last year as a result of civil and criminal actions. The videocassettes, it said, represented a retail value in excess of $11.7 million.

The association says that piracy occurs nationwide, but that the metropolitan areas where the most raids occurred during 1990 included Los Angeles (107 raids), New York City (54), Miami (37) and Chicago (24).

Script developed by Never Enough Design