By Romeo San Vicente
‘Milk’ screenwriter to direct Neeson and Connelly
When young, gay writer Dustin Lance Black snagged a Best Original Screenplay Oscar this year for “Milk,” it was pretty much inevitable that he would find himself uttering that most Hollywood of sentences: “What I really want to do is direct.” And so, like many career-hot scribes before him, Black is ascending to the director’s chair of a big studio film with “What’s Wrong with Virginia.” (It’s not his virgin outing as a filmmaker; he’s helmed a few indie flicks already.) Liam Neeson and Jennifer Connelly are both attached to star in the drama, about which little has been revealed so far; presumably, it won’t get rolling until after Black reunites with “Milk” director Gus Van Sant on “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” “Virginia” is still in pre-production, so it probably won’t pop up in theaters until 2010 at the very earliest.
Fry and Allen mix Austen and ‘The Office’
There was a time when theater directors switched up “Hamlet” in every way possible, staging the Danish prince’s tragedy in the Old West or on the moon or in the mafia. Now it seems to be “Pride and Prejudice”‘s turn, what with the self-descriptive new novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and now the upcoming British movie “Jane Austen Handheld.” Gay actor Stephen Fry plays Mr. Bennet and pop sensation Lily Allen makes her screen debut as Lydia in this version of the Jane Austen novel, told from the fly-on-the-wall POV of a documentary crew. So don’t be surprised if Mr. Darcy winds up a Regency equivalent of “The Office”‘s Jim Halpert, occasionally staring at the camera in sardonic amusement, when “Jane Austen Handheld” hits screens in 2010. Next stop, the “Pride” Broadway musical and wacky Japanese video game.
Have ‘Mercy’ on The Gay Nurse
Another new hospital drama? Why not? Especially since it’s set to star Michelle Trachtenberg of “Buffy” and “Gossip Girl” fame. (And for the record, Romeo knew she’d grow up to be awesome when she was on “The Adventures of Pete & Pete.”) The show’s called “Mercy” , and the pilot is due to start shooting any second now for fall pickup consideration. Obviously, because it’s just a pilot, you may never see it or hear about it again besides an “Oh, yeah, the network passed on it” notice in “Variety.” But if it winds up on the fall schedule then be on the lookout for cool, queer, indie film guy Guillermo Diaz (“Party Girl”) in an ongoing role as a gay nurse. Fingers crossed that this is a good one; now that Gedde Watanabe can’t represent on the departing “E.R.,” somebody has to pick up the slack.
What’s Amy Sedaris doing?
That’s a question Romeo finds himself asking from time to time, because new entertainment product from the delightfully strange “Strangers With Candy” lady is always a welcome arrival on the pop-culture radar. Coming soonest (most likely) is “Jennifer’s Body,” the feminist horror film from writer Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama, whose lesbian cred would be well established with movies like “Girlfight” and “Aeon Flux” even if she hadn’t also helmed an episode of “The L Word.” Sedaris has a supporting role in the cheerleader-turned-homicidal-maniac story. Meanwhile, she’s also finishing up “Tanner Hall,” about the “coming of age” experiences of the young short-skirted population of an all-girl boarding school. And while the up-and-coming cast looks appealing enough, it’s the headmistress (or the cranky lunch line lady, or whoever Sedaris plays) we’ll be buying a ticket to see.