Temple Grandin on Feb. 6 one of HBO’s finest films, interview and review

HBO knocks it out of the park with the exemplary film, “Temple Grandin,” the story of an American pioneer in Autism and the premiere authority in the humane management of cattle for slaughter. <P></P> <P>Autism and cattle? </P> <P>If you have never heard of Dr. Temple Grandin, or her profound work in the modern methods of managing of livestock, gather up.</P> <P>HBO is presenting a riveting biopic starring Claire Danes as Dr. Temple Grandin that stays true to Grandin’s real life journey during the fifties and early sixties, who as a child was labeled, marginalized and teased to no end.</P> <P>Thanks to her tenacious, Harvard-educated mother, who persevered during a time when autism, especially in girls, was stigmatized and not as understood, nor properly treated, Temple learned and ultimately thrived in an education system that did not cater to special needs learners.</P> <P>This film is so much more than a narrative on autism. If you or anyone you know has a child with any challenges, please make every effort to watch this optimistic story that will entertain, enlighten and bolster the viewer.  I could not pull myself away from this brilliant little film.</P> <P>Especially appreciated in the film “Temple Grandin” was the nuanced and complicated relationship between Grandin’s mother (played by Julia Ormond) and her Aunt (played by Catherine O’Hara).  </P><EMBED name=MRWeb pluginspage=http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer align=middle src=http://hbo-u.rd.llnw.net/b2b/mrvideo/MRWeb.swf width=320 height=270 type=application/x-shockwave-flash FlashVars="flv=rtmp://stream.cdn.hbo.com/a2267/d1/b2b/mrvideo/hbofilms/templegrandin/templegrandin2.flv&img=http://hbo-u.rd.llnw.net/b2b/mrvideo/hbofilms/templegrandin/templegrandin2.jpg" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" bgcolor="#ffffff" quality="high"></OBJECT> <P> </P> <P>O’Hara cut her teeth in comedy with the late John Candy and Eugene Levy back in the SCTV days, but in this film, she is a star stand-out along with Danes, Ormond and David Strathairn, who plays a teacher/mentor of Grandin (Danes) in her later school years. </P> <P>At the recent winter press tour for TV writers, Monsters and Critics asked Dr. Grandin some questions, and heard from Claire Danes on this role that consumed her, describing how she lived with Grandin’s voice in her head, getting the peculiar inflections down just right.</P> <P>***image3:center***</P> <P>Claire shared that she was immediately drawn to Temple, and could not be casual in her approach about tackling the role.  “I have so much incredible respect for Temple.  I didn’t want to fail her or disappoint her in any way or all those other people who also hold her in such high esteem.  And she’s wired differently than myself.  So I read her books.  She’s a great resource. She was incredibly generous in sharing whatever information she thought might be helpful, and I grilled her, and she was incredibly open and responsive.  I met with a few different autistic people.  It is true.  Autism is on a spectrum and it manifests itself differently in every person.   I had to kind of understand what autism was in a kind of abstract sense and then figure out how it expressed itself through Temple, kind of differentiate.  It’s not really possible  to do that.  Still, that was part of the process. " </P> <P>Danes elaborated on how she became Temple in the film. “I broke it down into two magic chapters: her physicality and her voice.  It just took time and practice, and I had great help.  Mick (director Mick Jackson) and I also worked with a friend, Tamar, who is really smart about the body and very observant, so I recruited her eyes and her observations and figured out what that would mean physically, and then worked with a great dialect coach who created an exercise tape for me, spent a day with Temple, and we recorded that conversation, so she created a kind of Rosetta Stone of Temple, so to speak.  And it was in my iPod, and I was constantly reviewing it.  It’s so nice to see Temple and hear her voice.  It was in my head for so long.  And it’s very familiar and very dear to me.  It’s nice.  I spent a lot of time thinking about her.”</P> <P>Also at the television critics’ press tour was director Mick Jackson, who sat on panel alongside Danes and Dr. Temple Grandin and shared that there were no other actresses that could rise to the challenge of portraying Dr. Grandin for him.</P> <P>Jackson said, “ I think it was about three nanoseconds into the casting that I thought Claire Danes is the only person who can play this role, and I never shifted from that from that moment to this.  Claire is an actress who, in many ways, has something of Temple’s own characteristics – a directness, a determination which she sometimes calls stubbornness or you can call obsession, but certainly a determination to see something through  in the right possible way and get it right and a tremendous range of things that she’s played in her own career from "My So-Called Life" to the hormonal rages of "Romeo & Juliet," "Stage Beauty," "Shopgirl" — all those things portraying a personality at different stages of her life, and I thought she can do that, and she can do that with determination."</P> <P>Mick elaborated on Danes’ willingness to go the extra mile for a role. “Claire did a performance back in 2006, a performance based Off Broadway portraying Christina Olson, in which she portrayed this woman who is in the famous painting by Andrew Wyeth, who is lying in a field with a house in the distance in a kind of pink-white dress, and it’s little known that this woman was a real person and could not move her lower extremities.  As part of this performance piece that Claire did, she dragged herself along the sidewalk outside the theater for God knows how many blocks, up the stairs, and into the theater, and then did the performance.  I thought, someone who can do that and bring her professional skills to that degree of dedication is the person who should play Temple Grandin.”</P> <P>The effort that Danes turns in for "Temple Grandin” are Herculean.  She literally lays down among actual livestock milling about, weighing in at thousands of pounds each, reenacting a scene from Grandin’s past. </P> <P>At its core, "Temple Grandin" is a celebration of female connectivity, and the support network of a mother and aunt who kept life an even keel for Grandin. </P> <P>Dr. Grandin expressed this was the key for all families of autistic kids to reinforce. “It’s important to get autistic kids out doing different things.  You have to work with these children constantly; they need to be exposed to everything, included in everything.” She told Monsters and Critics after the presentation in Pasadena.  </P> <P>“My story, it’s really important to tell.  We’ve got to get kids into good educational programs and we’ve got to show that people with autism can do things. There are a lot of successful people who have even mild autism, I see them in all kinds of fields – construction, computer programmers and engineering.  I even recognized autism traits in some of the people on the HBO set."</P> <P>"Thinking in Pictures" is the title of Dr. Grandin’s published book that recalls her educational and vocational journey in a male-dominated field that was more than hostile to her initially. </P> <P>Today, Temple is a full professor of animal science at Colorado State University.  She currently speaks around  the world on both autism and cattle handling, and over half the cattle in North America are handled in humane systems she has designed.</P> <P>HBO’s  "Temple Grandin" reveals how she was able to see the world from the point of view of a cow.  Grandin’s insight and groundbreaking work and dedication to her educational studies redesigning cattle yards revolutionized an industry. </P> <P>“Well, I was seeing Claire, she’s playing me perfectly back in the ’60s and ’70s."  And I’m also happy to say they did a beautiful job on my projects.  My actual real drawings had the cattle animated on them.  The dip vat was actually built.  They re-created all my projects," shared Grandin.  "When I first started out back in the ’70s, I never thought I would make as much change in the industry as I did.  I mean, now an auditing system I developed is used around the world.  It has made a lot of improvements.  I sort of have no idea how far I would go, and I remember the superintendent of what was the Abbott plant, which actually was really a Swift plant, said, ‘You always have to keep persevering.’ "</P> <P>M&C asked Dr. Grandin if her designs would be adopted by more cattle yards, given their success.  “Well, I thought I could fix everything with equipment.  I could only fix half of it with equipment.  The other half is good management, and this is where now I’m spending more of my time developing these auditing tools for measuring handling.  Like, how many cattle are mooing and bellowing, that’s actually used to score slaughtering plants.  If you have more than three cattle mooing and bellowing going up the stunning chute, you fail the audit.  More than one animal out of a hundred falls down, you fail the audit.  And when I first started out, I thought I could fix it all with engineering.  I could only fix half of it with engineering."</P> <P>In the film, Dr. Grandin has a hard time when she was a grad student, getting her Master’s degree at the cattle yards.  There is a graphic scene in the film. I asked Dr. Grandin if that moment was true to life. </P> <P>“Yes they were very impolite to me. Well, there were other feed yards where they treated me really well.  There was Ted Gilbert down at the Red River Feed yard. There was Sam McElhaney and Gary Oden at McElhaney Cattle Company.  There were Bill and Penny Porter out on Singing Valley Ranch.  There were some people that treated cattle right, and they treated me right, and that all also help to keep me going. But those incidents with the bull testicles and being kicked out — those incidences actually did happen.”</P> <P>On <STRONG>February 6th</STRONG>, HBO will debut this very special film about the extraordinary life<BR>and accomplishments of author, animal scientist, and autism advocate, Temple Grandin.  Please make every effort to see it.</P> <P><STRONG>Debut Date is Saturday, February 6 (8:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)</STRONG></P> <P><EM>OTHER HBO PLAYDATES: Feb. 6 (11:45 p.m.), 7 (5:45 p.m.), 10 (11:30 a.m., 8:00 p.m.), 14 (10:30 a.m., 12:30 a.m.), 18 (9:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m.), 20 (2:00 p.m.), 22 (3:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m.) and 27 (noon)</EM><BR><STRONG>CAST:</STRONG> </P> <P>Temple Grandin:     Claire Danes<BR> Aunt Ann: Catherine O’Hara<BR> Eustacia: Julia Ormond<BR> Dr. Carlock: David Strathairn<BR> Alice: Melissa Farman<BR> Randy: Barry Tubb<BR> Betty Goscowitz: Stephanie Faracy<BR> Jeff Brown: Steve Shearer<BR> Don Michaels: Richard Dillard<BR> Four-Year-Old Temple: Jenna Hughes</P> <P><FONT style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #fefefe">Here is a clip from an excellent BBC documentary about Dr. Grandin:</FONT></P></OBJECT><EMBED src=http://www.youtube.com/v/46ycu3JFRrA&hl=en_US&fs=1& width=425 height=344 type=application/x-shockwave-flash allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always"></EMBED> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P>Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.