The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

HBO premiered their film adaptation of the bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The film stars Renee Elise Goldberry as Henrietta Lacks, Oprah Winfrey as her daughter, Deborah Lacks and Rose Byrne as the author, Rebecca Skloot. The bestselling nonfiction book was published in February 2010. The hardcover edition was on the New York Times best seller list for 40 weeks when the paperback edition was released. The paperback edition was on the best seller list for 75 weeks. Libraries could not keep it on the shelf! So it comes to no surprise that HBO made a film about it.

If you have not read this book yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.  You don’t like nonfiction books? Well then you are in luck. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks does not read like the typical nonfiction. This book is part biography, part medical science and a whole lot of drama!

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1950. She had cervical cancer and was a patient at John Hopkins University. Her cells were taken and cultured without her knowledge and consent.  Her cells grew rapidly but Henrietta died in 1951. To this day, scientists use the cells taken from Henrietta Lacks for medical research. The cells are known around the world as HeLa cells. Rebecca Skloot, the author of the book, was curious about the woman behind the famous cells. She contacted the family about telling her story. Understandably, the family was hesitant to talk about her. The book and the HBO film cover Rebecca Skloot’s and Deborah’s interactions as they try to discover the story of Henrietta and what John Hopkins University Hospital did to her.



Big Little Lies TV Series

Big Little Lies is an HBO miniseries based off of the book of the same name by the author Liane Moriatry.  You can read my colleague Ann’s book review here.

Reese Witherspoon stars as Madeline Martha Mackenzie. Madeline is middle-aged mother of three. Her oldest daughter’s father, Nathan, left the family when Abigail was a small child. Madeline is very angry at her ex-husband, Nathan, since he has recently moved back to town with his new wife and daughter, Bonnie and Skye. Nathan has been very involved in his daughter Skye’s life which hurts Madeline since he left her alone to raise their daughter Abigail. Madeline has remarried and has two children with her husband Ed (Adam Scott).

Madeline is taking her daughter Chloe to Kindergarten roundup and has some trouble. Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) stops to help. The two women find out they are going to the same place since Jane is taking her son Ziggy to school. Jane is a single mom and new to town. Madeline decides to take Jane under her wing. She remembers what it is like to be a single mother and to be judged by the other moms. When they arrive at school, we are introduced to Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and her twin sons. Celeste appears to have an ideal life. Her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) is handsome and wealthy and she has two adorable boys. But we see glimpses of their home life and see that Perry abuses Celeste.

At the end of the Kindergarten roundup, one of the girls is hurt. She has bruises on her neck. The teacher asks her to identify the person that hurt her. She points her finger at Ziggy. Jane stands up for her son to the rest of the parents and Madeline stands by her side. A battle line has been drawn between the parents before school has even started.

Throughout the episode and the series, we see different members of town being interrogated at the police station. Most of them mention Madeline and Celeste and the women at school. The viewer is unsure of what has happened. From the brief instances of conversation, the viewer can guess that someone has died and it might be a murder. Who died is not revealed. So throughout the series, the viewer is left wondering which character died and who the murderer might be. The series has seven episodes. A delicious drama and tantalizing mystery leaves the viewer guessing and wanting more.

67th Emmy Award Nominations…Who Will the Winners Be?


The annual 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will air on September 20 on Fox network. This is an award show that honors evening television programs. In total there were 567 nominations, with the HBO network nabbing 126 of them! The rest of the 441 nominations were split between 47 other networks. Game of Thrones leads the pack of individual programs with a whopping 24 nominations. Other noteworthy leading programs include American Horror Story:Freak Show19, Olive Kitteridge 13, Bessie – 12, and House of Cards, Mad Menand Transparent (Amazon Prime exclusive series-library does not carry) with 11 each.

Most fans are interested in the big awards like Outstanding Drama or Outstanding Actress/Actor. This blog is going to get down to the meat and potatoes of it all. Below is the list of nominees for some of the big Emmy categories, a few fun facts, and my Emmy predictions. The library carries nearly all these titles, just click the title to go to the catalog. The rest are not on DVD yet, but keep checking our catalog for the rest of these titles to appear.

Outstanding Drama Series: Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, Mad Men, and Orange is the New Black. Traditionally, this category has been a love fest between Breaking Bad and Mad Men, with Homeland squeezing in the win in 2012. Does that mean that the new AMC series Better Call Saul will pick up where Breaking Bad left off? Better Cal Saul is a spin off prequel to Breaking Bad. Well I say let the new kid on the block pay some dues and make way for some of the other fantastic story lines in TV land.  Mad Men hasn’t won an Emmy in years and apparently no one can decide if Orange is the New Black is a comedy or drama so I think those two are out. That leaves four solid competitors. Game of Thrones is hands down the best thing on television. It should get the win. The other three shows are great and have consistently been highly entertaining, but they just aren’t Game of Thrones.

Outstanding Comedy Series: Louie, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and VeepModern Family has won this award every year since 2010. We get it! You’re the best, now can we please let someone else have a turn? At this point, it doesn’t matter to me who wins as long as it is not Modern FamilyI’d like to see Transparent take the win even though they are a new show. Rarely do I root for the new guy, but this show is unique. It is tackling a tough topic while being streamed through to a very limited audience via Amazon Prime. A win will mean big things for Amazon and hopefully more great shows like this to come.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Kyle Chandler in Bloodline, Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom, John Hamm in Mad Men, Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul, Liev Schreiber in Ray Donovan, and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. Let it be Kevin Spacey, let it be Kevin Spacey, let it be Kevin Spacey. This is a great category full of amazing talent, its any man’s game. Kevin Spacey has won many awards in his career because he simply is fantastic. But he was, as they say, born to play Frank Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards, and he has yet to win the Emmy. My fingers are triple crossed for you sir.

Outstanding lead Actress in a Drama Series: Claire Daines in Homeland, Viola Davis in How to Get Away With Murder, Taraji P. Henson in Empire, Elizabeth Moss in Mad Men, and Robin Wright in House of Cards. Viola Davis has been the Belle of the ball this award season for her outstanding work on the new show How to Get Away With MurderSorry ladies, I think she has this one wrapped up.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson in Black-ish, Louise C.K. in Louie, Don Cheadle in House of Lies, Will Forte in Last Man on Earth, Matt LeBlanc in Episodes, William H. Macy in Shameless, and Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent. Even if it doesn’t take home the win for Outstanding Comedy, I’m pretty sure Transparent will take home this award. Jeffrey Tambor is amazing in this role and has already won a Golden Globe for it. Tambor plays a 68 year old man with three grown children, who is finally living openly as a woman. As I watch this show, I believe every second of what I see. Tambor is so real in this role, which makes the acting all the more marvelous.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Edie Flaco in Nurse JackieLisa Kudrow in The Comeback, Julia Louise-Dreyfus in VeepAmy Poehler in Parks and RecreationAmy Schumer in Inside Amy Schumer, and Lily Tomline in Grace and Frankie. I feel like I’m taking a shot in the dark here. Julia Louise-Dreyfus has won this award for the past three years, so I just can’t pick her. It would be interesting to see Amy Schumer or Lilly Tomline to pull out the win with their first nominations for these roles. However I am going to go out on a limb and give it to Lisa Kudrow although she was my least favorite “friend”. Her show The Comeback had it’s first season in 2005 and  then went on a 9 year hiatus before returning to HBO in 2014. She’s out of the gate with an Emmy nomination, maybe even a win.

Outstanding Miniseries: American Crime, American Horror Story: Freak Show, The Honorable Woman, Olive Kitteridge, and Wolf HallWhat a great category. I highly recommend watching them all. I’ve narrowed this down to The Honorable Woman or Olive Kitteridge. It is a coin toss, but I’m going with The Honorable WomenI think Maggie Gyllenahl can be very powerful on screen and she hit her sweet spot with this.

Outstanding Television Movie: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last CaseBessie, Grace of Monaco, Hello Ladies: The Movie, Killing Jesus, and NightingaleHBO and Queen Latifah can do no wrong. HBO’s Bessie will be the big winner here. This made for TV movie based on the life of blues singer Bessie Smith has been all the rage.

For a complete list of nominees visit 2015 complete list of Emmy nominations.

For more fun facts visit 2015 Emmy facts and figures.

For more 2015 Emmy predictions visit any of the sites listed below. I promise I didn’t look!




NY Times