By Romeo San Vicente
‘Cowpoke’ takes on new meaning
It looks like Ang Lee will be revisiting his “Wedding Banquet” days. The acclaimed director, whose last brush with anything resembling homoeroticism involved keeping Eric Bana shirtless throughout much of “The Hulk,” will be taking on “Brokeback Mountain,” a story of gay cowboys in love. Based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize winner E. Annie Proulx, “Brokeback” concerns a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy who slowly come to understand their attraction to each other in 1960s Wyoming and Texas. This project has been hankerin’ for someone to helm it ever since Gus Van Sant’s plans got scrapped. Meanwhile, film scholars have always speculated on the gay subtext of old westerns, so it’ll be cool to finally see one that lays all the cards on the table (and isn’t titled “How the West Was Hung”).
Harris reaches for the gun
Neil Patrick Harris has become something of a Broadway baby since his days as Doogie Howser, M.D., singing and dancing his way through “Rent,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Cabaret.” Now he’s taking on the role of Lee Harvey Oswald in Broadway’s first-ever production of Stephen Sondheim’s controversial musical “Assassins.” This thing’s been waiting in the wings forever and will finally see the lights of the Great White Way in March 2004. Joining Harris in director Joe Mantello’s (“Take Me Out”) production will be “Sex and the City’s “Mario Cantone as would-be Nixon-killer Samuel Byck. Here’s hoping they knock ’em dead – or, as Thelma Ritter said in “All About Eve,” “Kill the people.”
But I’m a Manson girl
Almost behind everyone’s back, young, talented up-and-comer Clea DuVall has built a career from multiple queer-themed projects. Currently featured in “21 Grams” and on HBO’s “Carnivale,” the actor has pumped up her dykon status by playing lesbians in “But I’m a Cheerleader,” “Committed,” and “Ghosts of Mars,” and co-starring in gay stuff like “The Laramie Project.” If you haven’t seen her work, you’ve missed out on her cool, understated screen presence in those unusual roles. Next up, she takes on the creepy character of Manson family murderess Susan Atkins in CBS’s remake of the film “Helter Skelter,” which also stars Jeremy Davies (“Saving Private Ryan”) as Charlie himself. The movie will air in May 2004. The real Susan Atkins, still serving a life term, will probably not be joining Clea for a premiere-night photo-op.
Three animated divas
You’re nobody if you’re not in an animated feature these days. Ellen DeGeneres lent her voice to “Finding Nemo,” Sean Hayes is hogging multiplex screens as the irritated fish in “Dr. Seuss’s Cat in The Hat,” and next summer Rupert Everett joins Jennifer Saunders (“Ab Fab”) and Julie Andrews in “Shrek 2.” The story picks up where the last film left off, as Shrek (Mike Myers) and his Princess (Cameron Diaz) – who is (surprise) now an ogre, too – meet her parents. Everett will voice Prince Charming, who’s more than a little miffed that his intended chose an ogre over him. Saunders will lend her tart-tongued delivery to The Fairy Godmother, and Julie Andrews is The Queen. Of course, she is.