By Romeo San Vicente
Kelsey Grammer: Conservative in a ‘Cage’
Former “Cheers” and “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer has never been very secret about his conservative politics. He votes Republican and he co-starred in the little-seen right-wing comedy “An American Carol,” in which a Michael Moore-style director is portrayed as an unpatriotic Scrooge. So what to make of the announcement that Grammer will play the gay lead in the very gay Broadway revival of the extremely gay “La Cage Aux Folles”? Is he one of those fiscal/war conservatives with a socially liberal bent? Or is he simply an actor who likes to work, regardless of the role? And how much does it matter, anyway? The man is funny, after all, and “Frasier” wasn’t exactly a Rush Limbaugh-style sitcom. See how complicated show business can get? In the end, gay ticket-buyers with a strong opinion can vote with their wallets when the show opens next spring.
Melissa Etheridge, Newton-John to appear in ‘1 a Minute’
If you’ve never heard of Namrata Singh Gujral, then it’s probably because you never watched the Bollywood film “Kaante” or the crazy soap “Passions,” where she played a nurse. But the Indian-American actress will soon make her mark as a director with “1 a Minute,” a docu-drama she’s making while undergoing radical breast cancer treatment. Made with the intention to further spread the message of breast cancer awareness, the project will also feature a host of committed women. Scheduled to co-star are fellow cancer survivors and activists Melissa Etheridge, Olivia Newton-John, Jaclyn Smith, Diahann Carroll, Morgan Brittany and Bollywood actresses Priya Dutt and Mumtaz. Lesbian actress Kelly McGillis will narrate the film, which is in production now and slated for release sometime in 2010. Now stop being scared and go schedule that mammogram.
Van Sant’s family ties
Gus Van Sant’s latest indie project used to be called “Restless.” But now the drama about a teenage couple sharing an obsession with death is currently untitled while it attracts some names with plenty of connective tissue between them. First-time screenwriter Jason Lew, film school colleague of actress Bryce Dallas Howard, has penned the script. She, in turn, alongside her father Ron Howard and his production partner Brian Grazer, will co-produce the film. Mia Wasikowska (you’ll soon know her as “Alice” when Tim Burton’s wild vision of Wonderland hits screens) will star alongside Dennis Hopper’s actor son Henry as the young morbids in love. Meanwhile, Sissy Spacek’s actress daughter Schuyler Fisk will take on a role in the film, too. It’s scheduled to shoot in Portland, but you can call this one a classic case of how who you know in Hollywood can make all the difference.
Oprah’s next moves
The Lady may be quitting and moving her production powerhouse to Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean she’s slowing down. First up? A show for her in-house home makeover man Nate Berkus, the out gay guy millions of female viewers have a crush on. After that comes the edgy stuff, producing a scripted drama for HBO – as yet untitled – about a dissatisfied woman who leaves her husband and children for a solo life in Los Angeles, one where she indulges in what press releases are calling “secret fantasies and desires” (translation: making out with hot chicks in L.A. nightclubs). Erin Cressida Wilson, who also penned 2002’s “Secretary” (another story about a woman exploring taboo sexual impulses), will write the pilot. Is American TV ready for a bad mommy who dumps her kids for a life of self-fulfillment? Even if Oprah agrees to star as the newly hedonistic parent? OK, yes, that probably won’t happen. Fun to think about though, right?