TIME public health

California Measles Outbreak Is Over, Health Officials Say

No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days

A measles outbreak that infected 131 Californians has ended, the state’s Department of Public Health said Friday.

The outbreak, which began in December at Disneyland, infected people ranging from 6 weeks to 70 years old, sending 19% of them to the hospital. No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days, officials said.

“Having this measles outbreak behind us is a significant accomplishment,” Gil Chavez, California’s state epidemiologist, said during a press call. “Measles can be very serious with devastating consequences.”

Health officials believe a tourist brought measles to Disney’s Anaheim, Calif. theme parks in December, eventually infecting 42 people at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The disease then spread to a number of students, teachers, health care workers and other Californians. No deaths were reported.

At least 56 of the people who contracted measles during the outbreak had not been vaccinated, according to Chavez (the vaccination status of 38% of those who were infected is unknown). He encouraged unvaccinated people to get the measles vaccine “to protect themselves, to protect their loved ones and to protect the community at large.”

TIME movies

Frozen Story Was Stolen, Author Claims

Walt Disney Pictures

An author says the story was taken from her book

A Kuwaiti author has filed a federal lawsuit claiming Frozen took parts of its narrative and characters from a story in her book.

Muneefa Abdullah says the popular Disney movie took plot points from her story “The Snow Princess,” which appeared in her book New Fairy Tales in 2007, according to the Detroit News. The suit names Disney as well as the screenwriter and co-director, Jennifer Lee.

Disney has previously promoted the film as being based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen,” originally published in the mid-19th century. All three stories feature ice, snow and a princess or queen with frosty powers. Disney has reportedly not yet commented.

[Detroit News]


Ian McKellen to Play Cogsworth the Clock in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Sir Ian McKellen
Gisela Schober—Getty Images Sir Ian McKellen

He'll star alongside star alongside Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Emma Thompson

Ian McKellen will take on the role of Cogsworth the clock in Disney’s new, live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.

McKellen, popularly known for playing Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X-Men, will star alongside Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad and Emma Thompson, Variety reports. The film, set for a mid-March 2017 release, will be directed by Bill Condon, who helmed Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls and the final two movies in the Twilight series.

Beauty and the Beast is just one of several live-action reboots in the making. Others include Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Pinocchio, The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon.



Why Disney’s New Cinderella Is the Anti-Frozen

Disney Lily James as Cinderella in Disney's 2015 live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, Cinderella

Don't be fooled by Ella's new look, this fairy tale is full of disappointing stereotypes

Ever since the cast was announced, I’ve been wishing hard on Disney’s new live-action adaptation of Cinderella. This was, after all, a product of the new Disney, whose last princess-based effort resulted in the girl-power juggernaut we know and love as Frozen. And now Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and even Agent Carter’sbutt-kicking bombshell” Hayley Atwell were on board. Surely this band of power women would have signed on only to a more modern Cinderella, one that finds a way to luxuriate in the lush beauty of the tale while also giving it a much-needed jolt of female agency.

How I wish I didn’t have to deliver bad news. I was a bullied girl who grew up on Disney’s classic animated version, dreaming that a fairy godmother might also reveal me as the radiant woman I knew I could be. I fervently wanted this reboot to be big enough to marry my childhood dreams with my adult belief that women aren’t ennobled by suffering or diminished by ambition. But I guess I forgot to wish upon a star. The new Cinderella is as retro as they come.

The film certainly is lavish. Everything is more beautiful than you thought it could be, from the hyper-real fairy-tale farmhouse to the ornately gilded pumpkin coach to the massive ball scenes at the palace to (of course!) the dresses. Oh, the dresses! Every frame is lovingly, sumptuously composed, and the performances live up to their setting. Aesthetically, Cinderella is an unqualified triumph.

If only the film’s heart were as good as its heroine’s. This Cinderella shares less DNA with Frozen and more with Snow White’s Evil Queen. On the surface it’s the fairest of the fair. But underneath it’s rotten.

You can tell that someone, somewhere had good intentions. There are multiple people of color in this film, and they’re not just playing servants. Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s stepmother, is given a backstory clearly meant to humanize her — a beloved dead husband and a real fear that she and her girls will be left to starve without a man to provide for them. But what the film suffers from is a profound failure of nerve. Sure, the people of color are there, but the only two who speak at all are tertiary characters at best. It’s 2015. Does the Prince really have to be white for the story to work? Does Cinderella?

As for Tremaine’s motivations, for a moment they gave me hope that the story would go in a Jane Austen direction, exploring the limited and sometimes desperate life choices facing women who are forced to depend on marriage for income and class status. Instead it’s just a way to demonstrate how ambitious Tremaine has become, and how that unseemly ambition is the driver of her evil treatment of our heroine, who in contrast has no ambitions and is therefore purely good. More submissive than Anastasia Steele, Cinderella responds to every insult and oppression forced on her by suffering it prettily and with a song in her heart. That’s no exaggeration: even when locked in the attic by her stepmother, literally held prisoner in her own home, she doesn’t try to escape or even yell to the king’s men just below her in the yard. Instead she just floats about dreamily and sings. If it weren’t for some preternaturally clever mice, she’d still probably still be up there.

What’s truly galling is that we know Disney can do better. In recent years it’s reimagined classic fairy tales in groundbreaking (and lucrative) outings like Brave, Maleficent and, of course, Frozen. And it’s not like it didn’t intend to update the story. Kenneth Branagh, who directed this mess, is featured in a video on Disney’s site bragging, “There’s no damsels in distress here. Cinderella’s not a pushover. She sticks up for herself.” I couldn’t possibly say what he means by that, because all the viewer sees is her parroting her mother’s dying words — “have courage and be kind” — while accepting without protest every abuse Tremaine and her daughters conceive of. Agent Carter would be very disappointed.

And Agent Carter is part of the point. Atwell’s other recent project is but one of a whole constellation of television series currently featuring complex, fully formed female leads, including Orange Is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, Empire, The Good Wife, The Mindy Project, everything Shonda Rhimes touches, and the just-released Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, to name just a few. One glance at a TV (or streaming) schedule is all it takes to see how infinite the possibilities can be when it comes to women onscreen.

But somehow the film-studio bosses keep losing the memo. In 2014, only 12% of top-grossing films featured women in lead roles. Only slightly more than half of all films released since 2010 have even passed the Bechdel test, a pathetically low bar requiring only that a film feature two women who talk with each other at some point about something other than a man. This erasure of women isn’t even mercenary: films that do pass the Bechdel test are repeatedly shown to produce more profit for studios than films that don’t.

And many of the films that do manage to feature a woman suffer from a profound lack of imagination about who women can be. If I wanted to go see a film from last weekend’s top 10 earners with anything resembling a female lead, I would be choosing between watching a dim-witted blond protégé, a retired British lady on an adventure, a naive virgin seduced by an abusive billionaire, a literal monster or an “ugly fat friend.” Meanwhile the male leads in those 10 films are a soldier, a scientist, a con man, a middle-aged superspy, an abusive billionaire, a sports coach, a businessman and a sentient sea sponge.

The theater in which I saw Cinderella was filled with dreamers much younger than I am. No doubt some of them, as I did when I was their age, identified powerfully with that abused young woman, just waiting for someone to see that she could be so much more than her circumstances. Too bad they’ve been let down yet again by movie execs who can’t seem to see past the end of their wands.

TIME viral

Watch Sarah Michelle Gellar Throw Down in a Disney Princess Rap Battle

It's Cinderella vs Belle—and no one should get in their way.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar dons Cinderella’s crown for a serious Disney Princess Rap Battle against young upstart Belle (played by Whitney Avalon).

In the blue gown, we have Cinderella, the legendary rags-to-riches story who has “rhymes sharper than a needle.” She doesn’t hesitate to dish out insults, and that includes mentioning Belle’s friendly relationship with a certain hairy fellow.

Not one to take things lying down, we have Belle in the yellow gown, who is her own Beast. She drops some serious shade, name-checking Cinderella’s dead mother (ouch!) and pointing out that her 1950s values are seriously retro and not in a good way (“clean the floors, do some chores, until a man just appears?”).

It’s a battle of words as the two beauties trade barbs in a masterful freestyle that ends — like any good Disney tale — with a memorable moral to the story. If only fairy tales really ended with a mic drop.

Read next: See the Cinderella Whose Performance Reached 100 Million Viewers in 1957

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

See Cinderella Through the Years

From Julie Andrews to Brandy, see the best actresses to fill the glass slippers

Love her or hate her, there’s no denying Cinderella has held an important place in American culture for decades — and why not? With its rags-to-riches arc, the fairy tale has elements of the American Dream — just sub in those glass slippers for bootstraps. The latest iteration of the story, a live-action Disney version out Friday, stars Lily James as a feistier version of the peasant-turned-princess.

Though the heroine may have become more independent over the course of time, her wardrobe has remained fairly consistent. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite Cinderellas in history.

TIME movies

Lily James: My Cinderella Glass Slippers Didn’t Fit Me

Jonathan Olley—Disney Lily James stars as Cinderella in Disney's live-action movie Cinderella

The actress says this Cinderella is "not a victim"

Cinderella’s glass slippers are big shoes to fill, and Lily James is ready to fill them—figuratively, anyway, since the Swarovski crystal heels created for the new live-action Disney movie didn’t actually fit the Downton Abbey actress’s feet.

James says the Kenneth Branagh-directed feature offers a new kind of Cinderella, one with more bravery and strength, plus a better message for young girls. TIME caught up with her before the movie’s Friday release to talk about her Prince Charming (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden), her ball gown and the next steps for her career.

TIME: I heard that hundreds of actresses tried out for the part of Cinderella. What was the audition process like?

James: Very long and very painful. I originally went in to play Anastasia, one of the step-sisters, and I was really into it. I remember practicing the night before and I put on my most garish pink-orange tie-dye jumper. I was really up for playing a character where you didn’t have to worry about being pretty, and you could just be more quirky and comical. But then when I was there, the casting director said, “You should just read for Ella while you’re here,” and I did. And it just felt right. In the breakdown of the character, Kenneth said she had a generous spirit. I met Ken, and then I did screen tests—the whole thing took a few months, actually, until finding out. And in the screen test, in one of them, Ken played Prince Charming, which was so cool—he’s a really good Prince Charming.

What scene did you read with him?

The scene on the horseback and also another scene that didn’t end up in the film. I even did a scene in the kitchen, and they built this entire kitchen out of pine wood, kind of like the one in the movie—not as detailed and exquisite, but I had to cook, and there was boiling water, and it all worked, and there was an oven, and there were mice that I spoke to, and I couldn’t figure out if I was more scared of pretending to like mice or pretending to be able to cook.

In the real shooting you didn’t have mice to talk to, right? They were CGI.

No, I had little squidgy soft toys, or I’d even have tennis balls, and the sound guys would make weird squeaking sounds at me in reply. I felt like I was losing my mind.

It looked like you had great chemistry with Richard Madden, your Prince Charming, on the red carpet at the film premiere. Did you become close on the set?

We did. He was cool. Because we both were entering this world together, and for both of us it was our first big film, we bonded on that. He’s a really good man—he really was a real support—and also we just had fun right from the start. We became like mates. We have a similar sense of humor, I think.

Cate Blanchett played your stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter played your fairy godmother, too. How was it working with them?

To have scenes with actors like that makes you way better. All you have to do is respond because their characters are so deep and layered and colorful and rich, so in a way you just have to enter into their moment and share the moment, and when you look into their eyes, they’re telling the truth. It was the most unique acting experience I’ve had. And Helena is so funny. Those scenes were such a hoot.

She must not have been on set for too many days, since she’s mainly just in the transformation scene.

I was so sad when she left. Actually, we did these night shoots because they built everything for real—my whole garden and the house, everything was real, in the back lot of Pinewood [Studios, in London] in the forest. So we were shooting from seven in the evening til six in the morning, and it was freezing cold. We had hot water bottles and coffees, just trying to get through. It became like this parallel universe that we existed in together. We had these ridiculously gigantic skirts to navigate. Somehow, because she was there, we had a great time. She’s so spectacular—she just sort of improvises [in that scene].

Oh, really? Some of it was unscripted?

Yeah, loads of it. She came up with this idea that the Fairy Godmother perhaps isn’t actually that good at magic, and she’s a bit out of practice. So you know, all the stuff is like, “What have you got? Have you got a barrow? A cumquat? A melon?” She would try new vegetables every time, and I would genuinely be like, “I don’t know what that is.” And Ken’s great facilitating all that. He lets you go with the moment, and he’s so full of life. He directs with such heart. He really inspired all that sort of energy. There’s a lot of freedom.

What about all those period costumes? They seem a little less free and more constricting. What are the best and worst parts about wearing those dresses and corsets?

The best, which outweighs everything else, was in that blue gown—I felt completely transformed. And that’s what fairy tales are all about: transformation. When I put that dress on, I felt like I could be a princess. But then I’m glad that it only lasted a night! Or like, a movie-magic night. It was just so big, so heavy. With corsets, it’s interesting when you put them on, realizing that’s what women actually wore—that’s what they wore every day, and they’re just so constricting. I’m not surprised they ditched those corsets! In the blue dress it was particularly tight. On the one hand, it helps in the way you stand and the way you move, but on the other hand, it takes your breath right up into your chest. When I was trying to dance, I didn’t have the capacity to breathe to support the physicality, and so I had to keep taking breaks and loosening the corset. But as I said, it was worth it.

You also wore a pretty remarkable dress for the wedding scene in Downton Abbey, which we in the U.S. have only recently seen. Will we see Lady Rose again in season 6 even though she left for America at the end of season 5?

I hope so. I really hope so. It’s sort of down to what Julian writes—it’s down to timing—but I’m pretty certain that that’s not the end of Rose.

Americans, at least, have come to know you primarily through period pieces like Downton, and Cinderella kind of feels like a period piece. Then you have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and War and Peace coming up. Is that a space you especially want to work in, or are you eager to take on more contemporary roles?

I definitely want to do some contemporary stuff now. To be honest, when I was growing up—I think it’s because of Kate Winslet and Titanic—I always wanted to do period. I grew up always wanting that, so I feel so happy that I’ve done a lot, but I’m definitely keen to challenge myself.

A lot of times when people talk about Disney princesses, they’re concerned about what the message will be for little girls. What do you want children to take away from this version?

The message in the film is quite clear, and it’s that if you have courage, be kind, then all will be well—that your strength can come from within. Oftentimes when they re-do the fairy tales, the princesses suddenly have swords and armor, that’s where their strength comes from—which is great, but with this one, we wanted to show that there are different kinds of strength. Any kid in the world can draw from strengths within—we all have the potential with that. She manages to find joy in life even though she’s having quite a bleak time and talking to the mice, imagining and dreaming. What’s inside is what really matters. At the end of the film we say, “This is the greatest risk we’ll ever take: to be seen as we truly are.” The reason the prince falls in love with Ella is because she’s such a strong, beautiful girl from the inside—she challenges him and they enrich each other. That’s not a very quick message. It may be the most long-winded answer ever. But I think there’s lots of little messages in the film that are really strong and empowering.

I read that you didn’t actually wear the glass slippers in the film.

They didn’t fit me. They fit the wrong girl. They didn’t fit any human foot! They’re Swarovski crystals, so they were on set and I would hold them and be terrified, whereas Richard Madden would be holding it and carrying away and moving around, gesticulating, and these guys in white gloves would be terrified. My friend’s daughter came to visit on set, and I let her hold the slipper, and her face—it was one of the most magical moments. Her eyes just lit up and the shoes were reflected in her eyes. It was amazing.

Read next: This Honest Trailer for Cinderella Reminds Us How Sexist the Original Story Really Is

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

Tim Burton Is Directing a Live-Action Dumbo Remake

Brad Barket—2014 Getty Images Tim Burton at the Museum of Modern Art on Dec. 15, 2014 in New York City.

Elephants really do fly

Tim Burton will direct a live-action version of Disney’s Dumbo, the latest in a long line of remakes of classic animated films.

The movie is still under development and the studio hasn’t yet offered a release date. This remake of the 1941 classic about a circus elephant separated from his mother and tormented for his large ears will use some mix of computer-generated effects and live actors.

Burton helped start the live-action trend with 2010’s successful Alice in Wonderland. Since then, Disney has revamped titles like Cinderella, which hits theaters this Friday, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, for release in 2017.

The script for Dumbo has reportedly expanded on the story, with changes including the addition of a human family. “It’s a big world,” Disney’s president of production Sean Bailey said. It’s a solid bet that some more dated elements of the film will be absent from the modern remake: Odds are the racially offensive, jive-talking crows (with a leader named, naturally, Jim Crow) didn’t make the cut.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME movies

You’ll Want to Read These Star Wars Books Before the New Movies Come Out

The series will fill in the gaps between Episodes Six and Seven

At least 20 new Star Wars books will be released in the lead-up to the premiere of The Force Awakens.

Disney Worldwide Publishing and Lucasfilm have confirmed that the series—including novels, comics and sticker books for children—will reveal what happened to the heroes in the time between Return of the Jedi and the new film, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The books will reportedly be packed with clues about what fans can expect from the latest Star Wars installment, which hits theaters on Dec. 18.

Read more at EW

TIME movies

Watch the Latest Trailer for Disney’s Tomorrowland

Frank (George Clooney) meets Casey (Britt Robertson) for the first time

Walt Disney Pictures has released the second trailer for Brad Bird’s upcoming sci-fi adventure film Tomorrowland, and this time we get to see a bit more of the mysterious world it portrays.

George Clooney plays a former boy-genius named Frank who has grown into a rather jaded old man, but when bright young teen Casey (Britt Robertson) finds a portal to the strange world in the form of a pin, the duo embark on a danger-filled adventure.

In the new trailer, Frank meets Casey for the first time, we see that an evil group is trying to stop the pair and we learn that bathtubs make great rockets.

Disney is still not giving away too many clues about the film but this new trailer is only making us want to find out more.

Tomorrowland hits cinemas May 22, 2015.

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