George Clooney is not particularly known for his feminism, nor his producing of television. These points are set to change, however, with news of an upcoming HBO miniseries – executive produced by Clooney, Grant Heslov and Bruce Cohen – titled Ms. The project will star Marisa Tomei as Gloria Steinem, and Kathy Najimy as Bella Azbug, and will focus specifically on the founding of the groundbreaking Ms Magazine in 1971. Steinem herself will serve as consultant on the series.
Ms Magazine is an American feminist publication which made its debut as an insert in New York Magazine in 1971. Its first full issue hit the news stands in January 1972, with its initial run having sold out in eight days. Now published by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the magazine has a rich history of being at the forefront of the feminist movement, being the first U.S publication to address the subject of domestic violence, with a 1976 cover.
It has also repeatedly weighed in on debates surrounding female genital mutilation and abortion. In 1972, Steinem used the cover of Ms Magazine to protest against changes DC Comics had made to the character of Wonder Woman – having taken particular offence at their move to strip the famous female superhero of her abilities.
As an HBO miniseries, Ms. was preceded by the network’s 2011 documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words, which took a broader view of the activist’s career. This latest dramatized project will look more specifically at the journalism that formed the basis of Ms Magazine, however – which Steinem co-founded as a feminist and journalist. Bella Azbug, who died in 1998 aged 77 years, was a lawyer, social activist, member of the U.S House of Representatives, and close personal friend of Steinem as Ms Magazine was being launched.
Cast as the two leads, Marisa Tomei and Kathy Najimy are also set to executive produce the project, building on Tomei’s new first-look development deal with HBO. There is no indication yet as to when Ms. can be expected to air, but with such fascinating subject matter, and a necessarily female-centric cast, this already promises to be a miniseries worth waiting for.