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Deep Inside Hollywood

By Romeo San Vicente

McKellen and Minogue make 'Magic'
Ian McKellen can't get enough of being a wizard. He's just finished voicing the role of Zebedee, a not-so-nice-as-Gandalf sorcerer, in the animated feature "The Magic Roundabout". Now, if you're of a certain age – and British – then you no doubt remember "Roundabout", the very popular children's series of the 1960s and '70s. And if you're neither, then you're about to be brought up to speed as the CGI film resurrects for a new generation the story of a young girl entering a strange world via her local merry-go-round. Several other queer-centric favorites are on hand to lend their well-known voices: disco diva Kylie Minogue, "Ab Fab"'s Joanna Lumley, and roguish pop star Robbie Williams. And though the voices are already on tape, actual filming doesn't begin until early 2005. Even a wizard can't speed up this magic.

Like 'Fight Club,' but with books
Because Romeo can't just keep watching his "Under the Tuscan Sun" DVD over and over, Hollywood has graciously decided to step up and fill the gap with what will hopefully be the next great middlebrow chick – and tagalong gay man – flick. "The Jane Austen Book Club," based on Karen Joy Fowler's novel of the same name, has just been snapped up by Sony for feature development, and while no director or marquee names are yet attached, the premise is tailor-made for anyone whose idea of a good movie involves characters with enviable home furnishings. The plot? Five women (including one lesbian) and a somewhat sexually ambiguous man meet regularly to talk about Jane Austen books, and each title they discuss together causes the groups members to examine the direction of their lives. Now, where do test-audience volunteers sign up?

The very familiar cast of 'Strangers'
Jerri Blank has a lot of new classmates. In the upcoming "Strangers With Candy" feature, star Amy Sedaris and fellow creators Stephen Colbert ("The Daily Show") and Paul Dinello have recruited a homeroom full of co-stars to torment Sedaris' character, Jerri Blank, the 46 year-old bisexual junkie-prostitute who tries to clean up her act by returning to high school. Along for the class trip are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alison Janney, Ian Holm, "Six Feet Under"'s Justin Theroux, designer Todd Oldham, and Kristen Johnson – last seen falling out a high-rise window on "Sex and the City" – as the wickedly named coach, Muffy Divers. The cool cast-heavy "Candy" gets unwrapped sometime in 2005, but Romeo's already obsessing.

Only Dannelly nose for sure
Queer director Brian Dannelly, whose feature "Saved!" poked well-meaning fun at Christian high-schoolers earlier this year, is about to make Cyrano de Bergerac speak again – sort of. "The Guided Man", a modern reworking of the Cyrano story, follows an introvert who has to give the best-man speech at a childhood friend's wedding. The timid guy turns to a female expert in romance to speak through him, and his new-found confidence transforms him into a ladies' man. Of course, that's when he falls for the woman giving him his new voice. Dannelly is working on the script with screenwriters Michael Urban and Steve Adams, and production is scheduled to start in early 2005. No cast is attached yet, nor is there any word on whether the filmmakers will follow the prosthetic-nose route taken by Steve Martin in his 1987 Cyrano-themed comedy, "Roxanne", or break with tradition by making their leading man simply slightly less attractive than Tom Cruise.

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