USA Today – We’ve all been to uncomfortable family and community gatherings. But probably not one including your ex-girlfriend, sugar daddy (wife and baby daughter in tow) and your parents, too.
Welcome to “Shiva Baby” (in limited theaters including New York, Miami and Boston and more and on-demand April 2), the story of 20-something Danielle (Rachel Sennott) who tries to keep all her secrets intact as they literally crowd around her during a shiva. Shiva is the period of mourning after a Jewish burial, typically involving (way too much) eating and mingling at the home of a relative of the deceased, in an effort to comfort the bereaved.
Danielle’s parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed) parade her around trying to help her find a job post-college graduation while she tries to figure out how to handle conversations with her ex Maya (Molly Gordon), her sugar daddy (Danny Deferrari) and his wife (former “Glee” star Dianna Agron).
With Passover underway, “Shiva Baby” may be the the perfect movie to watch this holiday season – at least if you don’t mind being a little uncomfortable with your relatives.
“I feel like there’s always an uncomfortable moment at a Seder. Why not have it be around this film?” Gordon jokes on a recent Zoom call.
“I think it’s a good movie for different generations to watch together,” adds writer/director Emma Seligman.
Some plot points may require some explaining to older generations – i.e. what a sugar baby is and how there’s an app for that – but others will apply to everyone. Feeling lost and stuck with problems (literally) swirling around you, for instance.
While film lovers of all backgrounds can enjoy the film, some one-liners cater to a Jewish audience (Agron’s character Kim, who isn’t Jewish, pronounces the dessert rugelach as arugula.) Moments like these (in addition to Danielle choking on a bagel with lox) may go over people’s heads but they aren’t dealbreakers in appreciating “Shiva Baby.”
“You don’t have to be a Jewish person to watch this film and understand the dynamics at play and feel that you’ve also experienced very similar things,” says Agron, who is Jewish. The Jewish nature of the film, however, definitely made her family excited. “I had previously played a nun, so they were like, ‘Finally you’re stoking some of our kind of history in your filmmaking,’ “ she says.
Gordon, too, appreciated the chance to connect with her identity. “It was such a treat, to get to be in something that celebrates our culture and to be reminded of so many hilarious moments with my Jewish cousins,” she says. “But also, it’s such a universal movie just about family dynamics. So many of my friends who aren’t Jewish feel so seen and connected to it.”
The movie was filmed in August 2019, and everyone was piled on top of each other filming most scenes inside a single house. It’s an especially harrowing watch given the social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic that have since taken place. “It was that sweaty, and it was that tight,” Seligman says. “So that didn’t hurt trying to alter the performances to make it seem more claustrophobic.”
Watching characters crammed together in a small space, picking over a buffet of food and getting in each other’s faces may startle some after spending a year in quarantine. Even vaccinated people “will say no to going to group events,” after seeing the tight quarters movie, jokes Agron.
The former “Glee” star plans to watch the virtual GLAAD Awards next month, which will feature a tribute to on her late co-star Naya Rivera’s character Santana. Rivera died last July, which Agron says is something that reconnected Agron and her castmates.
“It’s been incredibly hard as you can imagine. Losing a friend is not something that you ever want to experience and it’s not the first time,” she says. (Rivera’s passing follows the deaths of “Glee” co-stars Cory Monteith and Mark Salling.) “She was so spirited and so it’s really brought a new kind of constant communication with all of us, which is so nice because sometimes as a cast you’re not able to make as much time for each other.” She feels a similar kinship with the “Shiva Baby” cast. “We’ve really created a bond where we’ve been in all different places during this time but we’ve stayed really connected,” she says.
Super exciting news, Dianna fans! Our girl has been cast in a new project, the upcoming Mayim Bialik directed film “As Sick as They Made Us”. Dianna will play one of the leading characters Abigail, and will star alongside Simon Helberg as Nathan, Dustin Hoffman as Eugene and Candice Bergen as Barbara. What a cast! Very little information has been released about the film so far, but the official plot line reads: “A divorced mom tries to make peace with her dysfunctional family as she finds a second chance at love.”
Mayim Bialik did an interview with Forbes on February 18 this year, where they wrote the following about the upcoming project: Next, Bialik will be bringing her production knowledge and firsthand experiences surrounding mental illness to the big screen as she adds writer and director to her resume for the feature film As Sick As They Made Us. “I did write a story after my father passed away about growing up in a home with mental illness and how that impacts siblings differently and how it impacts the entire family,” Bialik reveals. She goes on to say that as of now, the project is scheduled to start filming this summer in New Jersey and will star Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen, and her Big Bang co-star Simon Helberg. Bialik says of her upcoming filmmaking experience, “It’s very terrifying and exciting. I’ve always viewed things from behind the camera perspective, even as an actor when I was younger. With a mighty director of photography, I’m hoping to create a beautiful story that’s also visually pleasing.”
Dustin, Simon and Candice were cast back in November 2019 alongside Olivia Thirlby (who it seems Dianna has replaced), but I can imagine the pandemic put a pause to the remaining casting and production. I’ve posted an article Deadline shared about the project back in 2019 when it was first announced for those interested!
Deadline – EXCLUSIVE: We can reveal that Mayim Bialik, known for her role as Amy in The Big Bang Theory, is set to make her directing debut on comedy-drama As Sick As They Made Us and has gathered a starry cast for the pic. Starring are Dustin Hoffman, Candice Bergen, Olivia Thirlby (Juno), and fellow Big Bang Theory cast member Simon Helberg. Bialik also wrote the screenplay, which is about a successful divorced mother of two who rekindles love in her life amidst the crazy antics of her dysfunctional family. Now she attempts to convince the stubborn, and comically unfortunate family members to hold it together while they embrace one final farewell.
Project comes from producers Anne Clements (Stage Mother), and Ash Christian (After Everything) and Clay Epstein’s Film Mode Entertainment, which is shopping it at AFM.
Bialik is a two-time winner of the Critic’s Choice Television Award for best supporting actress for The Big Bang Theory, she also played the title role in 90s sitcom Blossom. Her production company, Sad Clown Productions, recently inked a multi-year deal with WBTV including a talent-holding provision for her acting services; she also holds a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA and has published four books.
“It is an incredible honor and a writer and director’s dream come true to work with actors I’ve respected and adored my entire life. I cannot wait to see what we can create together,“ said Bialik.
“We can’t wait to see this stellar cast bring such lovable and interesting characters to life. It’s evident that these amazing actors share our love of the materials and we are thrilled to see Mayim’s vision become a reality,” added Epstein.
Dianna kicks of her two-week long residency at the Café Carlyle TONIGHT, and for the occasion, Nylon Magazine have shared a great new article on our girl. Read it below or at the source, and get ready for plenty of updates here and on twitter, as we get ready to cover her run at the Café Carlyle!
NYLON – She’s not going to choose a creative lane, because why should she? Dianna Agron doesn’t want to choose between acting and music or acting and anything else; she’ll have it all, thank you. And just like Agron isn’t keeping herself restricted to one career path, she also doesn’t feel like restricting herself to only the biggest projects, and keeps an eye out for engaging, smaller-scale things as well. Agron knows better than anyone else that different moments in time require different creative outlets.
Agron entered the public eye during a very specific moment in time with a very specific project: She became a household name because of her role on the television series Glee (which, if you’re like me, you watched religiously every Tuesday, then every Thursday, then every Tuesday again—until the plot got too complex). She tells me on the phone that the show was everything that she wanted when she first came out to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, because it was something that let her sing, and dance, and act. “When I was a kid, I was watching musicals, so I actually thought that that’s what becoming an actress meant,” she said. Fitting.
As of now, Agron has found out how to quench all of her creative thirsts at once: by diversifying her projects, and often. Tomorrow, she begins a two-week long residency at the Café Carlyle, where she will be singing to a small room of people. After starting her career in a recording studio every week for Glee, and then performing at huge Glee: Live concerts for the show’s fans, she’s just as, if not more, comfortable on a smaller scale. “I forget that there’s ways like this in which I can engage on such a personal level and share this deep, deep love I have for music in an intimate space,” she says. “I know for other people, playing on a big stage in a big arena gives them that big adrenaline rush, but I do find that in a small room.” (more…)
2019 continues to treat us Dianna fans well, as earlier today it was announced that our girl would guest the live interview series BUILD tomorrow (January 15) to promote her upcoming Café Carlyle run! Her interview will start on 2:00 PM ET, and you can tune in to the livestream on their official website here. If you’re in NYC, you can book your tickets to see her in person for free over here! Whenever celebrities attend the BUILD series, they’re usually heavily photographed both outside and inside the studios, and we’ll also get a long video interview – hopefully containing plenty of information on her upcoming projects. Make sure you stay tuned here at Dianna Agron Heaven and on twitter tomorrow for plenty of new content on our favorite!
— BUILD Series (@BUILDseriesNYC) January 14, 2019
After what feels like an eternity (and it almost has been – the project began shooting in 2014), Dianna’s upcoming film ‘Headlock’ is finally out in selected theaters and on VOD tomorrow, January 11, 2019 ! Ahead of the release, the film has been re-titled ‘Against the Clock’. You can find the full list of theaters, as well as book your tickets if you are in the area, over here. The Los Angeles Times calls the film “distinctive” and “memorable… more on the David Lynch and austere Eastern European art-cinema side of low-budget filmmaking, rather than aiming for cheap thrills or crowd-pleasing dramedy” (Thanks Joe!). I personally had the honor of seeing the film late last year, and I really enjoyed it. It’s very different from everything else Dianna has done in the past! It’s an absolute must watch, so make sure to either buy tickets, or purchase your own digital copy tomorrow – I will update our twitter with links to where you can buy it, and I’ll update the site with reviews and HD screen captures as soon as possible. Stay tuned!
After CIA Agent, Kelley Chandler (Mark Polish) is seriously injured during a mission, his wife, Tess (Dianna Agron), a former CIA operative, becomes determined to find out what happened – a truth the CIA Director (Oscar (R) nominee, Andy Garcia) wants concealed at all cost. Written and Directed by Polish and also starring Justin Bartha (NATIONAL TREASURE), the film is a high-suspense conspiracy spy-fi thriller that forces Tess and Kelley to tackle both mental and physical extremes to uncover the truth. Directed by Mark Polish.
At the end of last year, you might remember how we shared that Dianna would once again perform at Café Carlyle this January. Thanks to the Daily Mail and Playbill, we now have new information on what Dianna will be singing! I’ve posted it all below for you to read. Tickets can be reserved here – if you book tickets, we would love to hear about it! Just send us a message on twitter, or email us through the site’s contact form.
It is fast becoming crunch time for Dianna and her intimate residency at Cafe Carlyle in New York City, which goes from January 22 through February 2. Singing tunes made famous by the likes of Marianne Faithful, Nancy Sinatra and Nico, the Georgia native will be joined by a slew of talented musicians and a few surprise guests. (The Daily Mail)
Former Glee cast member Dianna Agron will headline the Café Carlyle January 22–February 2 with a new nightclub act celebrating female-fronted acts of the ‘60s and ‘70s, with songs by Marianne Faithfull, Nancy Sinatra, Nico, and Peggy Lee. Agron will be joined by special guests, and musicians Gill Landry and Margot. Tickets range $75–$145. (Playbill)