By Romeo San Vicente
Ellen’s going to be a mom – Mother Nature, that is
She’s the award-winning host of a successful talk show. She’s the face of Cover Girl. She’s got a hot wife. And she even got herself onto a future cover of Oprah’s magazine. What else is there for Ellen DeGeneres to accomplish? Well, she’s giving the movies another shot, after mixed success in the past. (“Finding Nemo,” yay; “Mr. Wrong,” nay.) DeGeneres will star as Mother Nature, returning to Earth for the first time since creation, in an as-yet-unnamed comedy written by former “Sex and the City” producer Jenny Bicks. And here’s proof that no one seems to be bothered by DeGeneres’ sexuality anymore: the film is being produced by Walden Media, the Christian-owned company behind the “Narnia” flicks. Shooting starts this summer while her talk show is on hiatus, so look for this Mother to whip up a box-office storm in 2010.
Jesse Eisenberg: The other Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg is the new Truman Capote; in the same way that two rival movies popped up about the gay author of “In Cold Blood,” we now have two competing films about queer Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Romeo previously reported that James Franco would be playing Ginsberg in “Howl,” but now along comes Jesse Eisenberg (“Adventureland,” “The Squid and the Whale”) to portray Ginsberg in another biopic. (Ironically, “Milk” -featuring Franco – put the kibosh on a rival, long-gestating Harvey Milk project, “The Mayor of Castro Street.”) Eisenberg will star opposite Chris Evans (as Jack Kerouac) and Ben Whishaw (as Julien Carr) in “Kill Your Darlings,” which lesbian indie-legend Christine Vachon will produce. (More parallels: Vachon also produced “Infamous,” the “other” Capote movie.) “Kill Your Darlings” is currently set for a 2012 release, meaning more beatniks than you can snap your fingers at coming soon to a theater near you.
Daniel Barnz mixes beauty and “Beastly”
One of the brighter directorial debuts of 2009 so far has been gay filmmaker Daniel Barnz’s indie drama “Phoebe in Wonderland,” and this up-and-comer has already announced his next project – “Beastly,” which puts a teen spin on the “Beauty and the Beast” legend. Based on the novel by Alex Finn, “Beastly” tells the story of a 17-year-old boy who is turned into a monster by a classmate. Rumors are swirling that “Gossip Girl”‘s Leighton Meester is the leading contender to play the girl who sees past his hideous exterior and falls in love with the wounded soul within. (Zac Efron allegedly turned down the male lead, no doubt holding off on playing ugly until his desire for an Oscar becomes uncontrollable.) “Beastly” could go into production as early as this summer – and it really should if it wants to bask in, and soak up residual cash from, that hot “Twilight”-adjacent glow.
Mary J. Blige says ‘yes, more drama’ for Tyler Perry
Prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry recently admitted that he’s been doing everything short of stalking Miss Diana Ross in the hopes of getting her to star in one of his movies. But even if “Madea Meets Mahogany” never happens, Perry has already gotten another great R&B diva to go before his camera. Mary J. Blige will star opposite Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson in Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” Based on one of Perry’s successful stage plays, the film explores a woman (Henson) fighting for her marriage even though, unbeknownst to her, her no-good husband is shacking up with her sister. Blige plays a nightclub owner who’s a friend of both Henson’s character and Perry’s iconic Madea. The movie opens this September, just in time for Oscar consideration for whatever musical contribution Blige supplies to the soundtrack. She “will” sing, won’t she? She has to, right?