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The lady vanishes -- yet again

Buzz-worthy female roles are suddenly in short supply. Chalk it up to a cultural shift, or maybe an unfair fight.

February 19, 2006|Marjorie Rosen | Special to The Times

Sometimes too, adds O'Toole, there's a fear of female characters being unlikable: "We get that a lot. In the '30s and '40s, women didn't have to be redeemed by the end of the movie. In 'All About Eve,' Margo Channing was a bitch. So was Eve. They had secrets. They were real people. That's why we find it liberating to write male characters. We know we can get away with more in terms of their behavior. Besides, they're easier to sell."

So even as movie executives now look for strong women, they impose enough subtle restrictions for writers to want to turn elsewhere. Still, as Jack Amiel, the screenwriter for "Raising Helen," said, "I really like writing female characters. Guys, we're either holding something in or letting it out. Women are layered. They're complex. And their lives and interactions are just more interesting."

Nice sentiment. If only, then, Hollywood would allow writers to write and producers to produce these characters, perhaps women, who are glued to their La-Z-Boys night after night, would have good reason to leave Wisteria Lane for an evening -- even an opening weekend -- at the multiplex.

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Rosen wrote "Popcorn Venus: Women, Movies and the American Dream." Contact her at calendar .letters@latimes.com.

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