By Romeo San Vicente
Film to turn back time
LGBT film has moved past the moment when virtually all the stories produced were about AIDS, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many more stories to tell about the trauma and devastation of the first wave of the disease. “After Louie,” a film by first-time feature director Vincent Gagliostro, co-written by Antony Johnston, will look at the perspectives of two generations of men on either side of the timeline. Alan Cumming has been cast as an older artist and activist, a man who survived the ’80s and ’90s, and who now finds himself in a relationship with a younger man (Zachary Booth) for whom the era is something only heard about secondhand. The film is in the middle of a Kickstarter funding campaign, but the technical team and cast are ready to go: attached in supporting roles are Wilson Cruz, David Drake, Justin Vivian Bond and Joey Arias. We wish them all the Kickstarter luck in the world, but could some power-gay producer just step in and handle this, please? You know who you are.
DeGeneres launches a network
While you weren’t paying attention, Ellen DeGeneres was gently promoting digital content on daytime TV, making YouTube, Vine and Snapchat understandable and accessible to an entire population usually ignored by those platforms. Who cares if some of it is remedial (like explaining Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes years after their inception)? The point is that she’s basically explaining the internet to people who didn’t know they wanted to care. And this is why her next step as an all-powerful mogul is so potentially lucrative. She’s launching the “Ellen Digital Network,” a programming slate that includes the “Damn, Daniel” kids, an animated series about her own pets called “Ellen’s Pet Dish,” new episodes of “Dance Challenge,” a user-generated content show called #MadeByYou, the “Ellen Show” game called “Epic or Fail,” and a content development deal with social media star Tyler Oakley. Bottom line: Ellen is taking your mom into the future with her and you’ll know your own life has jumped the shark when she makes a show out of unicycling frog meme, “Here Come Dat Boi.”
‘Noah’s Arc’ reunited
Do you miss “Noah’s Arc”? You probably do. Because, frankly, it’s not like anyone in the world of basic cable was lining up to make television programs about the lives of gay black men before it arrived. And furthermore, how many have there been since? Exactly. So when former “Arc”-er Doug Spearman directed his first feature, the LGBT film festival favorite “Hot Guys with Guns,” it gave us hope for more to come. Well, now something new is coming. Spearman’s latest directorial effort, “From Zero to I Love You,” will tell the story of a gay man (played by “Noah’s Arc” alum Darryl Stephens) who rejects his friends’ and family’s effort to set him up with Mr. Right, all because he can’t resist the thrill of chasing heterosexual men — the kind with wives. Yes, yes, yes, the gay shame of it all, but still a fascinating idea for a story in a world where gay culture is beating the drum for everybody settling down and getting adorably married. Why not a romance about wanting, and possibly getting, the one you can’t have? More on this one as it slowly winds its way to release.
From “Mad Men” to “Soldier Girl”
Still not sure who Teyonah Parris is? Then you’re not watching the right stuff. Already called the “Next Big Thing” by industry trade The Hollywood Reporter, Parris made a big impression as Dawn, the first black secretary hired on “Mad Men,” before moving on to Justin Simien’s feature “Dear White People” and starring in Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq.” And now she’s in talks to star in “Buffalo Soldier Girl,” to be directed by Christine Swanson (the upcoming TV movie “The Miki Howard Story”) from an original script by 2015 Texas Writer of the Year, author Sarah Bird. Set up by the production company Pantheon of Women, the script is based on the true story of a woman named Cathy Williams, who, disguised as a man, enlisted and fought with the African American post-Civil-War-era Buffalo Soldiers. The film is expected to shoot in Texas this fall for a 2017 release. Be on the lookout for this one.
Lange and Sarandon feuding?
By now, if you even come close to other human beings who have access to the internet, you’ve already heard about this one: Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange will play Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively, in Ryan Murphy’s new eight-part limited series, “Feud.” Murphy’s TV domination is an uncontested fact these days, recently bolstered by the sweeping critical approval and great ratings of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson”. And this latest effort is going to be catnip to baby boomer and senior-age gay men who grew up obsessed with the very real ongoing battle between Crawford and Davis, two stars who loved to hate each other so much that their stunning early 1960s collaboration, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” felt more like real life than fiction. Our not-so-secret wish, though, is for some women on the writing staff to have a Marcia Clark-level of empathy for these two vintage Hollywood warriors. The last thing anyone needs is a typical gay male wallowing in comic misogyny. Look, someone has to say this stuff out loud, you know?
—Romeo San Vicente never feuds, he merely triumphs quietly in all ways. He can be reached at DeepInsideHollywood@qsyndicate.com.