By Romeo San Vicente
‘Rocky Horror’: The TV remake. Yep.
Like all unnecessary remakes, this one was, perhaps, inevitable. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” 40 years old now, was asking for it by being so beloved. The cult favorite of misfits and queer kids holds the distinction of being the movie with the longest theatrical distribution run in film history. And that means it’s worth money. And that means someone wants to milk more from it. Gail Berman, former Fox entertainment president, has long wanted to remake the film, calling it a “passion” project for her. And Fox already loaned it to “Glee” for auto-tuning. So the next step is handing it over to “High School Musical” director Kenny Ortega for a TV version to air on Fox. The working title is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event,” and while there’ll be, of course, a new cast and what’s being called a “visual reimagining,” there’s a promise to be faithful to the script and songs. If the “High School Musical” association bothers you, consider “Rocky’s” trajectory as something akin to the human rights movement for the LGBT community. Once considered dangerous and dirty, now mainstream and cuddly, the outrageous musical’s transgressive yesterday is today’s cute karaoke. That’s a real time warp.
Apatow goes all the way gay
Andrew Rannells is working with producer/director Judd Apatow on an untitled comedy co-written by Rannells and Mike Doyle (from “Jersey Boys”). There’s not one single detail to be shared about the story, other than that it’s a star vehicle for Rannells, whose career is on a steadily rising escalator. He is the Grammy-winning, Tony Award-nominated star of “The Book of Mormon,” one of an elite crew of Hedwigs, and current co-star of “Girls.” Details of the project will come soon enough, but until then, the coolest part of this is kind of about Judd Apatow. After establishing himself as the chief purveyor of the man-child comedy, all Rogens and Rudds and Francos acting gay-ish with one another, heterosexual men figuring out how to reclaim their ability to be intimate with one another, Apatow is now producing “Girls,” directing Amy Schumer’s upcoming feature “Trainwreck,” and working on a project with a gay guy. Don’t worry, straight men, you’re all still very, very important to us. But let’s enjoy this next, inclusive step in the Apatow Universe and see how the expansion plays out.
‘Animal Crackers’ are the new Legos
OK, “maybe” they’ll be the new Legos, box office-wise, anyway, when the animated feature “Animal Crackers” is released. It could be argued that the tiny, vanilla-flavored cookie, beloved by generations of children, has an even deeper brand identity than Lego, so anything could happen. The feature — not a remake of the Marx Brothers comedy, in case you were worried — is about a family employing a magical box of Animal Crackers to save a rundown circus from being seized by an evil ringmaster. (Although, let’s be real, circuses aren’t exactly America’s favorite day out anymore, so their existence may need to be explained to very young audiences.) The movie boasts a few LGBT cast members providing voices: Ian McKellen, Raven-Symone, and the venerable Harvey Fierstein as “Esmerelda,” a character we hope is the ferocious queen of bear-shaped cookies. And they’ll join Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Patrick Warburton, Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito and Gilbert Gottfried. It hits multiplexes for family consumption in 2016. BYOMilk.
JT LeRoy: the hoax everyone bought
JT LeRoy was a lot of things: a former teenage prostitute, an HIV-positive recovering drug addict, gender-ambiguous and the critical darling of the literary world with a best-selling autobiographical novel, “Sarah.” He was also painfully shy, choosing to allow celebrities like Lou Reed, Sandra Bernhard and Nancy Sinatra read for him at book events. Well, the last two parts are true, anyway, although shyness isn’t why LeRoy rarely appeared in public. He was, instead, a construction, an elaborate literary hoax. And now it’s all on film. Marjorie Sturm began a documentary about LeRoy in 2002, at the height of his fame, and she was there in 2006 when it all came crumbling down around an author named Laura Albert, whose pen name and alter ego had caused one too many questions without answers. The result is a “The Cult of JT LeRoy,” a provocative examination of how fiction is employed in building a celebrity, how we all want to believe in the redemptive power of tragedy through art, and what happens when the truth comes out. It’s making the film festival rounds right now, so catch it while you can.
Professional sports’ LGBT heroes are ‘Out to Win’
In a world where Michael Sam comes out “before” he makes it to the NFL, no matter the consequences, it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, his decision would have been unthinkable. Athletes in professional sports have long paid the price of silence, usually waiting until their most active years were behind them before coming out. This is history we shouldn’t forget, and now “Out to Win,” the latest documentary from director Malcolm Ingram (“Small Town Gay Bar,” “Continental”), is making the festival rounds. The stories of people like Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, David Kopay, Jason Collins, Billy Bean and John Amaechi, all speaking about their careers first-hand, are collected in this moving portrait of the last non-religious American job where coming out as LGBT can cost everything. Cable and DVD and streaming will happen soon enough, but if you’re near a good indie film fest, be sure to give it your support.
‘Grace Jones — The Musical of My Life’ comes to the BBC
Gay icon Grace Jones has spent decades doing exactly as she pleases, always with a somewhat menacing smile on her face, and this has proven to be the key to her success. She modeled, she sang, she actressed, she posed in nightclubs and she dated Dolph Lundgren, never once with anything less than absolute command of space. This would make her the perfect subject for a documentary, and now thanks to the BBC she will be. Director Sophie Fiennes (“The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” the weirdly entertaining documentary about philosopher Slavoj Žižek) is handling duties behind the camera. How will she capture the everything-ness of her subject? The BBC explains it this way, describing the project as an “observational portrait” and “a multi-narrative journey through the private and public realms of the legendary singer and performer.” We accept — and wait — for 2016 to roll around and deliver.
Almodovar’s ‘Silencio’ due to make noise
Spain’s most well-known filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar, recently gave fans a taste of his old, irreverent self with the frantic, silly, “I’m So Excited!” But it seems like that brief detour into goofy, dirty comedy was only a palate cleanser, because with “Silencio,” the director is returning to serious drama and his preferred “female universe.” Details are few and far between, plot-wise, but the film seems to revolve around a woman named Julieta – played by Spanish actresses Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suarez as the character’s younger and older versions, respectively — and the ebb and flow of satisfaction and success in her life. Almodovar is known for casting his films from a stable of his favorite actors over and over, and dedicated followers will notice the likes of Dario Grandinetti (“Talk to Her”) and longtime Almodovar staple Rossy de Palma (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) in the cast. But this time around, those are the only repeat names, and the cast is filled with new (to this director, at least) faces and names. Maybe he’s building a new team for 2016?
—Romeo San Vicente still thinks “Sarah” is a good book. He can be reached care of this publication or at DeepInsideHollywood@qsyndicate.com.