Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women’s tennis changes its ranking system after Serena Williams’s pregnancy, Martha McSally heads to the Senate after all, and we reflect on the legacy of Penny Marshall. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Making her dreams come true. There was a collective gasp in the Fortune newsroom yesterday when the news broke that Penny Marshall had died Monday at her home in L.A. She was 75.
For most people, Marshall will always be the monogram-sporting, milk-and-Pepsi quaffing half of Laverne & Shirley. And the show, while a delightful goofball comedy, was notable for its focus on a pair of young, blue-collar working women, whose never-ending parades of scrapes were as likely to revolve around their jobs as their dating lives. Laverne & Shirley ran for eight successful seasons—not bad for a pair of characters who began their lives as “fast girl” dates for Happy Days’ Fonzie and Richie Cunningham.
But there was much more to Marshall’s career. She went on to become a trailblazer behind the camera too—as nicely summarized by her Variety obit: “Marshall was the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million [Big], the first woman to direct two films that grossed more than $100 million [A League of Their Own], and she was only the second woman director to see her film Oscar-nominated for best picture [Awakenings].”
Despite that white-hot run (she continued to direct and produce for years, though A League of Their Own was the last of her monster hits), Marshall was never nominated for an Oscar—despite Awakenings’ Best Picture nod—nor an Emmy for her performance on Laverne & Shirley.
The Washington Post reports that Marshall said that her reputation as a money-making director helped bring more behind-the-camera gigs to women, adding that “she made her best-known films, when other women such as Amy Heckerling and Nora Ephron, were starting to make inroads as directors.” However, the paper also cites a film historian who’s skeptical of Marshall’s claim, noting that “the environment was and remains largely biased against female directors.”
That’s a difficult assertion to argue with. But at a time when we’re getting a clearer and clearer picture of just how difficult (and even dangerous) it’s been for women to rise to positions of power in Hollywood, Marshall and her remarkable life deserve our celebration.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• All together now. The women’s co-working and social space The Wing raised $75 million in a Series C round bringing together seemingly every buzzy group working to support women: Time’s Up, All Raise, and even the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Sequoia’s Jess Lee and Upfront Ventures’ Kara Nortman will join The Wing’s board, while Kerry Washington, Valerie Jarrett, and Robbie Kaplan of Time’s Up invested.
• Madame Senators. Martha McSally lost her Senate race to Kyrsten Sinema—and now the pair will be colleagues. Republican McSally was appointed by Arizona’s governor to the Senate seat that wasn’t up for election this year, held for decades by the late John McCain. Sinema will be the senior senator, and Arizona will be one of six states with all-female Senate delegations.
• 2020 time... In more political news, Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is set to make a decision about a 2020 presidential run as soon as this week, BuzzFeed reports. And a national survey of women of color in politics and activism found especially strong support for California Senator Kamala Harris, with 71% of respondents including her in their top three choices for the next Democratic presidential nomination.
• Like clockwork. Female journalists and politicians receive abuse on Twitter every 30 seconds, according to a new report by Amnesty International and Element AI. Women of color were 34% more likely to be targeted than white women, and black women were a whopping 84% more likely to receive abuse than white women.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Blythe Masters stepped down as CEO of blockchain startup Digital Asset. Real estate tech company Compass hired Chloe Drew of the Markle Foundation as president of Compass philanthropy and community impact. Carol Browner, former Clinton EPA administrator and director of the Obama White House’s Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, will advise scooter startup Lime on sustainability. Helen Yu joins Urban Airship as SVP of customer success. BBC named Fiona Campbell controller of its youth-targeted online channel BBC Three. Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries at Microsoft, will be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame for her work on the video game franchise Halo and supporting women in STEM.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Grand slam. After Serena Williams’s high-profile return to competition after the birth of her first child, the Women’s Tennis Association has changed its rules on rankings and pregnancy. Players’ rankings will now freeze when they take a leave for injury, illness, or pregnancy. In the case of a pregnancy, women can use that special ranking for up to three years after the birth of their child. Under the previous rules, Williams went from No. 1 to unseeded when she returned from maternity leave.
• Lady liberty. Therese Patricia Okoumou, the woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty in protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, was convicted of disorderly conduct, trespassing, and interfering with government agency functions. She could serve up to 18 months in jail.
• Match made in heaven. The New York Times takes a look at the content sides of Tinder (of Mandy Ginsberg’s Match Group) and Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble. “They want to gain our trust, so we’ll settle down with them for the long haul,” the story says of dating apps and their blogs.
New York Times
• Commission decision. Anita Hill’s commission on eliminating sexual harassment and advancing equality in Hollywood will prioritize protecting the entertainment industry’s freelancers, from writers and directors to crew members.
The Hollywood Reporter