Celebrity Watch

Posted on 01 Jun 2006 at 10:26pm

Big cast bites into “‘Blueberry’



Norah Jones

Acclaimed Hong Kong director and Cannes Film Festival jury head Wong Kar Wai, the man responsible for one of the most critically lauded gay-themed films of the 1990s, “Happy Together,” has generated so much respect from English-speaking actors that assembling a cast for his first English-language film must have been like being set loose in a candy store.

For that project, an ensemble romantic comedy currently titled “My Blueberry Nights,” Wong has chosen Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones as his star. She’ll play a young woman traveling across America in search of love, meeting unusual characters along the way.

Joining Jones will be Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Ed Harris and possibly Kevin Spacey, who’s reportedly close to signing on. The results are sure to be sweet.

A “‘Sloppy’ sequel to “‘American Idol’

He was eliminated early from the Top 10 in the first season of “American Idol,” but that didn’t send Jim Verraros home with his tail between his legs.

The singer became the first and only contestant to come out; he released an album of songs that have helped propel him onto the dance charts; and he co-starred in the raucous gay comedy “Eating Out.”

Now the young rising star is back for more. In the naughtily-titled “Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds,” Verraros reprises his role from the first movie, co-starring in what promises to be according to advance buzz on the plot’s sexy twists and turns one of the raunchier gay comedies to come along in some time.

Just remember, though, that in spite of its title, it’s not porn, just good, dirty fun.

“‘Baghdad Blog’ to hit big screen

Salam Pax is the pseudonym of a gay Iraqi architect living in Baghdad, and his is the witty, unflinchingly honest voice behind the blog called “Where Is Raed?”

The online diary, a disturbing account of the Iraqi citizen’s life during wartime a process that Pax refers to as the “liber-vasion” was serialized in the London newspaper The Guardian, then turned into the best-selling book “My Little Eye.” And soon it will find its way to film via British producers FilmFour and Intermedia.

The project has a director (Marc Evans) and a screenwriter (Ross Klavan, who also wrote the wartime drama “Tigerland”), but no cast just yet. In pre-production now, the timely film should arrive sometime in (a hopefully postwar) 2007.

Queer director Chereau creates a “‘Monster’

When an acclaimed foreign director and a hot young starlet have competing projects in the works, who wins? Possibly both, but for potentially different audiences.

The latest buzz is that Scarlett Johansson is prepping for a role in a film, based on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, called “Napoleon and Betsy.”

Meanwhile, queer French director Patrice Chereau (“Mon Frere,” “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train”) has taken on a film titled “The Monster of Longwood.” Both are fictional takes on the relationship between Napo-leon and a young woman named Betsy, the daughter of his jailer. The projects appear to have sprung from similar sources and some legal wrangling may come to pass before both films can see the light of the screen, but probably nothing as bloody as what the real Napoleon created in his day.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 26, 2006.

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