By Romeo San Vicente
Keaton surrenders to ‘Dorothy’
Annie Hall is off to see the wizards – not of Oz, but of CBS. Oscar winner Diane Keaton has signed on to star in and executive produce a TV movie for the network based on Meg Wolitzer’s 2000 novel, “Surrender, Dorothy”. The story has nothing to do with tornados, witches, or glittering fantasy worlds, but with a vibrant 30-year-old Manhattanite named Sara and her gay male best who rent a summer place with friends. When Sara dies suddenly in an auto accident, the aftermath engulfs her circle of peers as well as her eccentric grieving mother, played by Keaton. Coming off the box-office success of “Something’s Gotta Give”, the busy Keaton has three other projects currently in development: Jim Sheridan’s “Da Vinci’s Mother”, a crime caper called “Mad Money”, and one untitled feature. “Surrender” is due to air in CBS’s 2004-2005 season.
A Dickens of a series
The new BBC “Doctor Who” series undertaken by “Queer as Folk” creator Russell T. Davies now has at least one other openly gay creative person involved: British actor Simon Callow. Callow, last seen in HBO’s “Angels in America” and perhaps most fondly remembered as the jolly heart-attack victim in “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, will play Charles Dickens in the hugely popular, newly revamped time-travel series. This won’t be the first time Callow has played the creator of “A Christmas Carol” on screen – he took on the role in a 2001 TV adaptation of “Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale”. He’ll be joining cast members Christopher Eccleston (“28 Days Later”) and pop singer Billie Piper for the series, which will no doubt end up reaching these shores via BBC America. Stay tuned.
‘Transit’ tackles AIDS
During the last decade, while most media outlets retreated from their coverage of the global AIDS crisis, MTV remained boldly committed to sometimes controversial programming that addresses issues related to HIV and young people. Now, as part of their “Staying Alive” campaign, the music channel has teamed up with the Swedish International Development Corporation to produce a TV movie titled “Transit”. The fictional film will highlight the little-discussed nonfiction topic of Europe’s illegal sex trade, a business that reaches well into the United States. It will include safer-sex and HIV prevention information and will be aimed at the network’s youthful demographic. Still in its early stages and not yet cast, the film already has an air date of December 1, 2005 – World AIDS Day.
Soprano and X-Man sign on the ‘Dot’
“Dot”, the latest feature from lesbian director Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”), finally has a full cast and a new lead. Up-and-comer Camilla Belle (“The Patriot”, “Practical Magic”) has replaced Thora Birch, and some well-known names have joined in to tell the story of a popular middle-class girl whose family life is upended when a supposedly deaf orphan teenager moves in. Edie Falco of “Sopranos” fame, Elisha Cuthbert (“The Girl Next Door”), Shawn Ashmore of “X-Men”, and “Saved!” alum Martin Donovan will be one big dysfunctional family when the indie feature begins shooting next month in Austin, Texas. Expect a flurry of film-festival screenings before it hits art-house screens, probably late next year.