Celebrity Watch

Posted on 20 Sep 2007 at 6:29pm

Sean Penn to play Harvey Milk



Sean Penn

The long will-it-or-won’t-it-be-made story of the film adaptation of Randy Shilts’ book “The Mayor of Castro Street” has taken another turn.

With news of Gus Van Sant’s attempt to shepherd the project to fruition comes fresh casting news: Sean Penn is attached to play San Francisco’s pioneering gay activist/public official, the late Harvey Milk, and longtime Van Sant collaborator Matt Damon is in talks to star as Milk’s assassin, Dan White.

Over the course of this project’s lengthy coulda-been/shoulda-been life, a number of actors have simply aged out of the title role, Robin Williams included.

Hopefully, Van Sant will have the wherewithal to make cameras roll sooner rather than later, or else Zac Efron will eventually be old enough to take the lead. If all goes as planned, look for “Mayor” sometime in 2009.

Gay filmmaker Arthur Dong explores “‘Hollywood Chinese’

Gay filmmaker Arthur Dong’s documentaries (“Coming Out Under Fire”, “Licensed to Kill,” “Family Fundamentals”) have captured unusual aspects of the gay experience while garnering Sundance Film Festival awards and critical respect.

His latest film, though, may be even closer to his heart. “Hollywood Chinese” takes on the last century of American cinema and its complicated relationship to Asian characters and stories.

It’s a history of both racism and groundbreaking performances, and the film will feature interviews with actors, writers and directors, including film legends like “Flower Drum Song” star Nancy Kwan, “Brokeback Mountain” director Ang Lee, “Twin Peaks” star-turned-director Joan Chen, “M. Butterfly” writer David Henry Hwang and “Law and Order: SVU” actor B.D. Wong.

Recently screened in Toronto, look for “Hollywood Chinese” at gay and Asian film festivals soon.

Jennifer Hudson assists Parker in “‘Sex and the City: The Movie’

Her instant gay audience cred solidified with one performance the drama-queen-to-end-all-drama-queens Effie White in “Dreamgirls” Jennifer Hudson has decided to preach it to the choir once again by getting herself cast in 2008′s “Sex and the City: The Movie”.

It would appear that Hudson’s appearance on the cover of “Vogue” endeared her to the fashionable powers that be (that Oscar win probably helped a little, too), and the former “American Idol” star will co-star as Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) assistant.

This, of course, begs the question of how much assistance a character who sits in cafes, shops for shoes, and lightly taps on a laptop actually needs.

But the inclusion of Hudson still feels like a welcome and adorable layer of pink frosting on an already crowd-pleasing cupcake. Hopefully, she’ll be allowed to sing, too.

Paul Reubens helps push new ABC show “‘Daisies’

For a TV program that hasn’t even aired yet, “Pushing Daisies” the oddball police procedural/unrequited love saga of a man (Lee Pace) who brings the dead back to life to solve the mystery of how they died is already racking up coolness points.

Created by gay screenwriter Bryan Fuller (creator of cult fave shows “Wonderfalls” and “Dead Like Me”) and due this month, the show’s already the most critically acclaimed and hotly anticipated thing on ABC’s fall schedule.

Now comes the inclusion of Paul Reubens, whose resurgent career received a jolt of adrenalin last year with his hilarious turn as deformed royalty on “30 Rock.”

The erstwhile Pee-Wee Herman will star as the unusually named traveling anti-depressant salesman Alfredo Aldorisio, who becomes involved in the whimsical, resurrection-themed goings on.

Whether his character will end up among the living or dead, however, is a mystery.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 21, 2007

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