WOMEN MAY be making progress knocking their heads against the glass ceiling, but the celluloid ceiling is still causing a problem.
Female representation in major-release movies is at its lowest level in five years, according to a study released yesterday by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and reported by the Los Angeles Times.
And that's with "Bridesmaids," "The Hunger Games," the upcoming Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy starrer "The Heat" and Madea.
Among the 100 top U.S. box-office hits last year, the study reported that only 28.4 percent of speaking characters were female.
The study does not take into account porn, where women have a larger percentage of the roles, but still don't say much.
The 28.4 represents a 3.8 percent drop from 32.8 percent three years ago, and it's a number that hasn't changed much over the years.
"There is notable consistency in the number of females on-screen from year to year," said USC researcher Marc Choueiti. "The slate of films developed and produced each year is almost formulaic - in the aggregate, female representation hardly changed at all."
When they are on-screen, 31.6 percent of women are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, unless they're teen girls. Then the number is 56.6 percent - up 20 percent since 2009.
But is Hollywood influencing the way teen girls dress or mirroring the way teen girls dress? Been to a Sweet Sixteen recently? It's like an episode of HBO's "Hookers at the Point."
There tend to be more female characters - and less sexualized ones - in movies written and directed by women, study author Stacy L. Smith says.
There just aren't many movies written and directed by women, but that's a different study.
* Former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a 2012 presidential candidate and Penn alum, is helping launch a new monthly radio talk show on SiriusXM satellite radio aimed at promoting bipartisan politics.
The former U.S. ambassador to China, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia will appear Wednesday on the inaugural "No Labels Radio: A Town Hall with America."
Manchin said that the hourlong call-in show "will give Americans the opportunity to hear just the facts from our elected officials."
Ah, a sort of no-spin zone.
But good luck, fellas.
* "Today" show co-host Savannah Guthrie reported yesterday that her boyfriend, Mike Feldman, had proposed during a tropical vacation.
She said yes.
Otherwise she probably wouldn't have mentioned it.
He's a consultant at a strategic-communications firm in Washington, and the couple have been dating for four years. It's the second marriage for Guthrie, who is 41, and Feldman's first. He's 44.
* Barbara Walters, meanwhile, said yesterday on "The View" that she's retiring from television in the summer of 2014.
Walters, 83, who began in television news on "Today" in 1961, nearly a dozen years before Savannah Guthrie was born, wept during her announcement.
Although she's had some medical problems this year - hey, she's 83 - she said that she is in perfect health and isn't being pushed out.
Walters noted that she'd been asked whether she had "slept her way to the top."
"I wish I had, because I would have made it much faster," she said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's basically the sixth member of "The View," if you don't count Mario Cantone, stopped by to salute Walters on the live show. The audience was stocked with brass from ABC and parent company Disney, including Disney CEO Robert Iger.
* When air marshals started flying the not-so-friendly skies, their purpose was to take down potential terrorists, not potential "American Idol" contenstants.
But an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York was forced down in Kansas City, Mo., Friday because the crew could not get an unidentified woman to stop singing Whitney Houston songs.
KCTV 5 in Missouri broadcast one passenger's stealth video showing authorities escorting the handcuffed Whitney wannabe off the plane, still belting out "I Will Always Love You."
According to airport spokesman Joe McBride, the woman, who was subdued on the aircraft by a federal air marshal, blamed her outburst on her diabetes.
* Every once in a while we come across a story that sounds too ridiculous to be true:
London's Daily Mirror reports that Brad Pitt is such a fan of Christine Ferber's artisan fruit preserves - which cost a little more than $18 a jar if you can find them - that he and eldest son Maddox, 11, recently flew to her little shop in the Alsace region of France and stocked up on 100 pots of jam to keep at his homes in Los Angeles and the South of France.
An unnamed source told the Daily Mirror: "Brad is very particular about what he eats but fell in lust with this jam. . . . It is very well-known among the jam-making fraternity."
(Just imagine how messy their pledge week is.)
The source went on to say that Brad and Maddox returned with so much jam, he had to get partner Angelina Jolie to designate a special jam-storage room in their Brignoles, France, villa.
"Now Brad is even beginning to experiment with recipes of his own," the source said.
No thanks. We prefer our jam without a Pitt.
- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.
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