‘Rent’ to the small screen … and did you hear about Alia Shawkat?
Live musicals are busting out all over TV, thanks to the success of adaptations of The Wiz, Grease and Hairspray (we’ve all forgotten about the way we dragged that stiff Peter Pan on Twitter and have forgiven it for being weird and sleep-inducing, just FYI). And since Broadway has a deep history to poach from, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. NBC has announced an Easter 2018 telecast of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1971 classic Jesus Christ Superstar, while Fox is gearing up for two new ones, A Christmas Story: The Musical — to air this December, with music from La La Land composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — and Jonathan Larson’s 1996 Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent. No casting news just yet — hey, can there be a not-white Jesus this time? — but we can already hear every underappreciated Broadway performer text-storming their agents. It’s deafening.
Dee Rees’ most recent film, Mudbound, was praised at Sundance and earned a nice payday from Netflix, where it will drop soon, so Rees, best known for Pariah, was already looking forward to her next project. At the same time that was happening, Get Out was busy turning indie horror on its head, with its freaky Stepford Wives vibe and blistering commentary on white supremacy that scored huge at the box office and with critics. Then Jason Blum of Blumhouse (Get Out’s production company) sat down with Rees for a horror movie pitch, and he liked what he heard. No title, no stars, no script, no anything just yet, but Rees’ film will involve a lesbian couple moving to a rural area. And something doesn’t want them there. Is the new house haunted? Is there a ghost? Something else? Something worse? Whatever it is, we’re hoping for a fast track and a lesbian horror trend to revive the endless parade of paranormal activities and Halloween reboots. Make it so, Blumhouse. We’re all counting on you.
Alia Shawkat came out as bisexual, did you hear? No? Well, it’s probably because it happened about 20 minutes ago, and because she was so casual about it that you could almost call it an un-coming-out. But we think she’s fantastic, so she can come out any damn way she wants. Meanwhile, we’re all about her career choices, including her turn as Ilana Glazer’s nearly identical one-night-lover on Broad City; the film Paint It Black, in theaters now, where she has a strange relationship with her dead mother’s boyfriend; and the upcoming Izzy Gets The F*** Across Town, from writer-director Christian Papierniak. The title alone means we want to see it, obviously, but it’s about a young female musician (Mackenzie Davis, Halt and Catch Fire) who is rapidly hitting bottom, so her plan is make her way across Los Angeles in time to crash her ex-boyfriend’s engagement party. We like this as a comedy plot because it comes with the promise of chaos, and we also like the cast that includes Get Out’s Lakeith Stanfield, Haley Joel Osment, Annie Potts and gravel-voice comedian Kyle Kinane. Keep an eye out for it later this year. Oh, and Netflix just said a fifth season of Arrested Development is on the horizon, so we hope she returns for that, too!
The kids, they are our future, and some of them want you to know that their pronoun is “they.” Example: young star Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games), who has been awesomely unconcerned about who doesn’t like the fact that their sexual orientation is fluid and their genderqueerness demands the singular plural. Stenberg’s career choices are garnering attention, too, as they’re starring in what could be the next big dystopian-teen franchise: The Darkest Minds. Written by Alexandra Bracken (based on her own novel) and co-screenwriter Chad Moore, and directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3), it’s the story of a 16-year-old (Stenberg) who is among the survivors of a disease that has killed 98 percent of America’s children. Those survivors also turn out to have superpowers, which make them a threat to the crumbling status quo, which puts them on the run, which causes a war and, well, you know, all that YA end of the world stuff everybody loves so much. Listen, we’re just excited for Stenberg. More power to them.
— Romeo San Vicente
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 19, 2017.