Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

The First Lady Production Designer Tony Fanning on Recreating the White House Across Different Eras

May 2022
<i>The First Lady</i> Production Designer Tony Fanning on Recreating the White House Across Different Eras

Showtime’s new tripartite series The First Lady follows the remarkable White House lives of three iconic First Ladies — Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), and explores how the responsibilities of the First Lady have both changed and stayed the same over time. Created by Aaron Crowley and directed by... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Awards, Emmy Watch, Featured, Industry Sector, Interviews, Production Design, Television |

Downton Abbey: A New Era‘s Costume Designers on Bringing Old Hollywood and the Crawley Family Into the Late 1920s

May 2022
<i>Downton Abbey: A New Era</i>‘s Costume Designers on Bringing Old Hollywood and the Crawley Family Into the Late 1920s

Downton Abbey: A New Era hits U.S. theaters this weekend three years after the first film grossed nearly $100 million at the domestic box office. Both films are, of course, based on the popular British series that ran for six seasons on ITV overseas and on PBS in the States. Directed by Simon Curtis,... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Costume Design, Crafts, Featured, Film, Industry Sector, Interviews |

Downton Abbey‘s Longtime Production Designer Donal Woods Reflects on His 12 Years With the Iconic Franchise and A New Era

May 2022
<i>Downton Abbey</i>‘s Longtime Production Designer Donal Woods Reflects on His 12 Years With the Iconic Franchise and <i>A New Era</i>

The Crawley Family — who we first met in 2010 via the megahit series Downton Abbey before they made the leap to the big screen in 2019 — returns to theaters once again in Downton Abbey: A New Era. The film represents a changing of the guard of sorts, with the story inching slowly towards the 1930s (it was... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Crafts, Featured, Film, Industry Sector, Interviews, Production Design |

Top Gun: Maverick Review: Tom Cruise Soars Back Into Conventional Blockbuster Mode With This High-Flying Sequel

May 2022
<i>Top Gun: Maverick</i> Review: Tom Cruise Soars Back Into Conventional Blockbuster Mode With This High-Flying Sequel

“Maverick,” Tom Cruise’s character’s callsign in the 1986 classic Top Gun and in its long-awaited (and long-delayed) sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, refers to a non-conforming rebel who charts their own path. Yet, as a movie star, Cruise is anything but. Sure, the timeless actor may be one of a kind — maybe even the greatest... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review: Sam Raimi Orchestrates a Spooky Symphony in Marvel’s Visually Stunning Sequel

May 2022
<i>Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</i> Review: Sam Raimi Orchestrates a Spooky Symphony in Marvel’s Visually Stunning Sequel

Once upon a time, in an alternate moviegoing universe, filmmaker Sam Raimi directed the world’s very first Spider-Man movie, which set box records for the highest-grossing opening weekend of all time. 20 years have passed since that landmark comic book movie, and in that time, superheroes have become ubiquitous. There are now 28 movies that... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Downton Abbey: A New Era Review: A Nostalgia-Filled Exploration of the Ever-Changing Nature of Showbiz

April 2022
<i>Downton Abbey: A New Era</i> Review: A Nostalgia-Filled Exploration of the Ever-Changing Nature of Showbiz

The Crawley family dynasty returns at the turn of another decade (the beginning of the 1930s) in the historical dramedy Downton Abbey: A New Era. The period referred to in the title is a very specific one — the moment in which the motion picture industry switched from silent movies to “talkies,” came with... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

The Northman Review: Robert Eggers Delivers a Visually Stunning Viking Revenge Movie

April 2022
<i>The Northman</i> Review: Robert Eggers Delivers a Visually Stunning Viking Revenge Movie

Director Robert Eggers has quickly made a name for himself in Hollywood thanks to his first two features, the somber yet entrancing horror films The Witch and The Lighthouse. But with his third feature, The Northman, Eggers has definitively proved that he’s a cinematic force to be reckoned with. The Northman is a revenge tale based loosely... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Bel-Air Pilot Editor Jennifer Barbot on Setting the Tone for Will Smith’s Peacock Series

April 2022
<i>Bel-Air</i> Pilot Editor Jennifer Barbot on Setting the Tone for Will Smith’s Peacock Series

We recently spoke to Corey Kaplan, the production designer behind Season 1 of the new Peacock series Bel-Air. This week, we chat with Jennifer Barbot, who edited the Bel-Air pilot and has worked on shows as varied as The Man in the High Castle, Ugly Betty, and Revenge. Bel-Air stars Jabari Banks as Will Smith, a well-meaning... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Awards, Crafts, Editing, Emmy Watch, Featured, Industry Sector, Interviews, Television |

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Finds the Magic Nearly Extinguished From Harry Potter Franchise

April 2022
<i>Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore</i> Finds the Magic Nearly Extinguished From <i>Harry Potter</i> Franchise

They say that only two things are certain in this world — death and taxes — but I propose we add a third to the list of universal mathematical certainties: the fact that movie studios will make an endless stream of typically lesser sequels, prequels, or remakes for any franchise that makes them significant... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Bel-Air Production Designer Corey Kaplan on Recreating Sets for Fresh Take on Will Smith’s Star-Making Series

April 2022
<i>Bel-Air</i> Production Designer Corey Kaplan on Recreating Sets for Fresh Take on Will Smith’s Star-Making Series

It’s impossible to write about the new Peacock drama Bel-Air without mentioning Will Smith and the fact that it’s a fresh take on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which made the newly-crowned Oscar winner and former Academy member a household name back in the ’90s. Smith is an executive producer on the streaming series, which finds... »

Tags: ,
Posted in Awards, Emmy Watch, Featured, Industry Sector, Interviews, Production Design, Television |