By Romeo San Vicente
Usher says ‘Yeah!’ to musicals
The Wolf(e) is at Usher Raymond’s door, and he’s opening right up. After years of mostly minor-league roles in teen movies like “She’s All That” and “The Faculty,” the Grammy-winning R&B superstar’s movie career is finally taking off like his music. Tony Award-winning gay director George C. Wolfe, whose stage credits include “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk” and “Angels in America,” will take the helm of an as-yet-untitled musical feature starring Raymond for MTV films. And the singer is also on board to co-star alongside Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx in “Dreamgirls,” to be directed by Oscar-winning gay director Bill Condon. Guess it’s time for Raymond to begin practicing his “I love my gay fans” statement for the queer press.
Making ‘History’ with Nicholas Hytner
Anglophiles, rejoice! The BBC, DNA Films, and Fox Searchlight Pictures are banding together to adapt British playwright Alan Bennett’s Olivier Award-winning 2004 play “The History Boys” into a feature film. Gay director Nicholas Hytner (“The Object of My Affection,” “The Crucible”) will handle behind-the-camera duties with a script adapted by Bennett himself. Set in Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s, the story follows a group of private-school teenage boys – at least one of whom is gay – as they come of age under the tutelage of an unorthodox English teacher (played by U.K. character actor Richard Griffiths, who played Uncle Vernon in all three “Harry Potter” films). The film will also feature “Bright Young Things” star Stephen Campbell Moore. Shooting begins this summer for a planned 2006 release. Until then, just pop “Oxford Blues” into the DVD player one more time.
Margaret Cho kills on Here
Margaret Cho’s “Assassin” tour is still in full swing, but Here TV already plans to bring it to your TV screen in September as a concert film. As with all programming from Here, the film will be available as a pay-per-view special. “Assassin” was taped at Cho’s May 14 performance in Washington, D.C.’s Warner Theater, and it features her trademark brand of outrageous personal and political humor. All of Cho’s concert films have cleaned up at the box office, with each new release topping the one the came before it. So if “Assassin” continues the trend, it will be her biggest hit yet. Now if she could just figure out a way to hook up comedically with Larry the Cable Guy, she could probably rule the world.
Nyswaner gets ‘Filthy Gorgeous’
Ron Nyswaner, the gay Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of “Philadelphia,” took a little inspiration from queer pop band Scissor Sisters when penning his latest project. “Filthy Gorgeous” – its title lifted from a Sisters song – is one of several new pilots given the green light by Showtime’s gay entertainment president, Robert Greenblatt. “Filthy” is a sexy comedy/drama about prostitution, revolving around a batch of high-end escorts, both male and female, and the clients who employ them. Greenblatt has also given the OK to “The Cell,” a drama about a terrorist group operating in the United States”; Brotherhood,” about two siblings, one a politician, the other a member of organized crime; and “Dexter,” about a police lab technician who also happens to be a charming serial killer – in other words, shows that make being a hooker seem pretty innocent.