By Romeo San Vicente
Will Heather Matarazzo go Helter Skelter?
It’s been more than 40 years since members of the Charles Manson “family” committed the horrifying Tate/LaBianca murders, but it’s a story that continues to captivate the public imagination. John Waters’ latest book, “Role Models,” describes his decades-old friendship with penitent and rehabilitated Manson-ite Leslie Van Houten – and now casting buzz suggests that lesbian actress Heather Matarazzo (“Saved!,” “Welcome to the Dollhouse”) will join the cast of “Manson Girls,” a new drama about the troubled young female hippies who were entranced by this psychopath, from writer-director Susana Lo, a TV vet making her feature debut. There’s also talk that Q’orianka Kilcher, who memorably played Pocahontas in Terence Malick’s underappreciated “The New World,” will join the cast as well. “Manson Girls” could creepy-crawl its way into theaters in 2011 if these young actresses decide to put X’s on their foreheads sooner rather than later. And it’s always a pleasure to see Matarazzo working, so here’s hoping it happens.
Crawford gets caught in ‘Misunderstanding’
Chace Crawford – that rare celebrity who can make even a mug shot look flattering, even when Gawker and other sites endlessly speculate about his sexuality – is keeping his burgeoning big-screen career going during his hiatus from TV hit “Gossip Girl.” In addition to appearing in this summer’s “Twelve,” from gay director Joel Schumacher, Crawford has signed onto “Peace, Love and Misunderstanding,” a ’60s-set dramedy from director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy,” “Breaker Morant”). Catherine Keener stars as a conservative lawyer who, after her divorce, takes her teenage children to visit her hippie grandmother (Jane Fonda) at Woodstock; what’s supposed to be a peaceful retreat just winds up reminding Keener’s character why she left home in the first place. TV hunk Crawford will play an anti-war townie who hooks up with Keener’s politically active daughter. Shooting starts in July–time for the actor to grow out his hair and/or be fit with appropriately groovy extensions–and the film is set to open in 2011.
Mapa and Plotnick make ‘HSM’ sequel more ‘Fabulous’
For all their squeaky clean Disney Channel-ness, the “High School Musical” franchise has always been fervently gay-adjacent. (They tried hooking up Lucas Grabeel’s Ryan with that songwriter girl, but you know that character is going to start dating boys the second he gets to college.) For “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure,” they’ve gone full-tilt homo, hiring very funny and very gay actors Alec Mapa and Jack Plotnick for the supporting cast. This time, Sharpay (Asley Tisdale) dreams of making it big on Broadway, only to find that her little dog is more cast-able than she is. As an added bonus for queer viewers, there’s also the presence of “Degrassi: The Next Generation”‘s Lauren Collins; if her character here is anything like that show’s Paige, expect Collins and Tisdale to enact a big-time Battle of the Blondes. This Disney Channel original is set to air next year; start stocking up on pink fuzzy pillows for your sofa.
Business is booming for Sean Hayes
Things were looking tough for Sean Hayes for a minute there – his coming-out interview in The Advocate came off as cranky and too-late, and then that Newsweek piece suggested he was too gay to be convincing as the hetero leading man of the Broadway revival “Promises, Promises.” It looked for a second like he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. But the one-time “Will & Grace” star is having the last laugh: He scored a Tony nod for the show, reviews for his gig as host of the Tony Awards were glowing, and his production company scored a hit with the sitcom “Hot in Cleveland,” which premiered to high ratings on TV Land. Hayes will be keeping his TV mogul hat firmly in place, with NBC Universal signing a two-year deal with Hazy Mills (his company with Todd Milliner) to develop new shows for network and cable. (You’ll recall Hayes showing off his sitcom-creating acumen on Bravo’s “Situation: Comedy.”) So yes, naysayers, this guy’s officially a little more than “Just Jack.”