By Romeo San Vicente
James Franco is one of the beautiful people, but you knew that
Let’s just go ahead and make the man an honorary gay, shall we? Because at this point in his career, as a movie star/student/artist/culture-creator, James Franco is more than just gay-friendly or gay-adjacent, he’s gay-absorbed. A heterosexual who’s chosen queer culture as a topic to explore and explore and explore from as many angles as possible, including the much-buzzed about Sundance Film Festival entry “Interior. Leather Bar” (which imagined itself as a documentary about the mythical missing 40 minutes from the film “Cruising”), Franco will now take on “The Beautiful People,” a biopic of Jay Sebring, a straight man in a stereotypically gay profession. You might not know his name but Sebring was well known in Hollywood in the 1960s as the playboy hairdresser to the stars. He had an affair with “Valley of The Dolls” star Sharon Tate and, along with her, was tragically murdered by the Manson Family. In other words, his life has needs-to-be-a-movie written all over it. Franco will direct and star in the project, but there’s no other word on casting or a schedule, so this one will most likely show up in 2014 or later.
For Ira Sachs, “Love Is Strange”
If you pay attention to this sort of thing, you’ll know that filmmaker Ira Sachs was the breakout gay indie filmmaker of 2012 thanks to his harrowing drug drama “Keep The Lights On,” an autobiographical story of a gay couple in New York caught in the spiral of addiction. Striking while the iron is hot, Sachs has already lined up his next feature, another indie called “Love is Strange” that is – surprise – about another gay couple (write what you know, they say). This one will star Michael Gambon (Dumbledore, gay after the fact in the “Harry Potter” franchise) and Alfred Molina (whose own career took off in the late ’80s playing Joe Orton’s lover in the British drama “Prick Up Your Ears”) as a longtime gay couple in New York experiencing the ups and downs of a romance that’s lasted a lifetime. After their wedding, the couple finds themselves forced to be apart (for unexplained reasons at the moment), and they experience all the difficulty that comes with separation. Shooting is scheduled for this summer, so expect a highly anticipated 2014 release.
Sean Hayes will not be told which sexual orientation to play
After the “Promises, Promises” flap (in which a gay “Newsweek” reporter took issue with Sean Hayes playing a heterosexual character in a Broadway musical – yes, really) it was only a matter of time before Hayes decided it was time to prove his non-gay-acting talents on a bigger stage. And after starring in last year’s TV pilot about gay parents, one that didn’t get picked up, the “Will & Grace” star is back with another untitled pilot from “Better Off Ted” creator Victor Fresco. This time he plays a single father (of no defined sexual orientation, but let’s assume the guy is straight, why not?) raising a 14-year-old daughter and dealing with a problematic boss at work. If it works, it’ll be one more brick out of the wall of resistance to openly gay actors crossing that boundary. So let’s all hope this one gets picked up. Neil Patrick Harris can’t carry this kind of sitcom burden all by himself.
“AbFab,” Part Eleventy
A touchstone comedy series of the 1990s, one that permeated all of gay culture, won legions of fans and, to this day, refuses to go quietly into that good night. No, it’s not “Sex and the City,” it’s “Absolutely Fabulous.” And after one-off specials and mini-seasons, dormancy and resurrection, brilliantly funny periods and stretches where you wondered why they keep beating this dead horse only to rebound back into funny again, here comes a film. That’s right, an “AbFab” movie. Will it be theatrically released or will it stick to the familiarity of television? Nobody’s talking just yet, but Joanna Lumley has confirmed that it is, indeed, in the planning stages; that she’s fully on board to step back into Patsy’s sleek, drunken, vicious couture; that Jennifer Saunders is writing the script; and that she hears it’s also a musical (that last bit might just be wild conjecture and probably is). But whatever’s true, whatever it turns out to be, whenever it sees the light of day, we’re in. We’re always in. We always will be in. Until these two characters are a hundred. Or more.