The most unlikely combination of famous female thesps Jane Fonda, Rosie Perez, Glenn Close, Oprah Winfrey, Brooke Shields, Calista Flockhart and Rita Moreno, to name a few have graced the stage to perform Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues since its off-off Broadway debut six years ago. But when the show debuts on TV tonight (at 9:30 pm/ET on HBO), its celeb-free, small-screen version will look surprisingly scaled down, performed by Ensler herself.
"It's taken us a while to find the right form for it on HBO," Ensler admits to TV Guide Online. "When you put things into a celebrity mode, that's what it becomes about. What I wanted to do was focus on the women I interviewed and bring them into the equation. It's the original form of the show.
"Really the Vagina Monologues is a grassroots experience," she says, referring also to the V-Day movement that grew out of the show, which is performed in theaters and colleges on and around Valentine's Day to raise money for the prevention of violence against women. "I did the show for years without celebrities and it did very well. I think it has had a big life with and without celebrities."
As Ensler's new play about Bosnian women refugees, Necessary Targets, opens in New York next week, she doesn't worry that her reputation as "the vagina lady" will overshadow it. "I don't think you can think like that because then you get paralyzed," she warns. "In some communities, I'm known as the Bosnian woman, in some I'm known as the Afghan woman and some I'm known as the vagina woman!"