It had to happen.

Madonna, after years of enduring almost unanimous disdain for her acting abilities, has traded for a spot behind the camera.

The finished product is called "Filth and Wisdom," and it recently premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to both boos and bemusement.

It stars Richard E. Grant and musician Eugene Hutz (of the band Gogol Bordello) in a loose, grungy storyline that has more in common with Madonna’s "Desperately Seeking Susan" roots than with her later diva-like "Evita" star turns.

But its supporters are calling it a refreshing new path for the disco diva. Mrs. Ritchie may have an uphill cred mountain to climb, but given her enormous fan base, it’s almost a lock that distribution is imminent.

Ready or not, her latest reinvention will be as an auteur.

Ian Ziering moves from ‘90210’ to OB/GYN
Stretch marks, bloated ankles, and morning sickness can be hilarious.

At least, that’s what the makers of "Baby on Board" are hoping, given the success of other recent pregnancy-themed movies. The new comedy stars Heather Graham and Jerry O’Connell as a married couple whose career-driven lives are thrown for a loop when she gets to borrow a phrase from a recent box-office smash "knocked up."

Ian Ziering once the owner of the shiniest, fluffiest mullet in all of "Beverly Hills, 90210" plays Graham’s pal, a gay obstetrician, who does his best to help out in the face of the bitterness and awful advice that she and O’Connell get from their friends, played by John Corbett and Katie Finneran. (Finneran, you may recall, played the snarky lesbian sister on the short-lived "Wonderfalls".)

Currently shooting in Chicago, "Baby on Board" should be delivered into theaters in 2009.

Dark gay indie comedy ‘Holding Trevor’ rises into real theaters
In spite of the impact of the "New Queer Cinema" in the early 1990s, it’s still something of a small miracle when a gay indie movie rises up from the cracks and finds its way into real theaters outside of the film-festival circuit.

"Holding Trevor" is one of those movies. From writer/producer Brent Gorski and director Rosser Goodman, "Trevor" is a dark comedy with a cast of unknowns, about queer 20-somethings navigating the suddenly deep waters of adult life.

Will it attain the same appreciation that the recent "new naturalist" movies (aka the "mumblecore" films of directors like Andrew Bujalski) about aimless youth have been getting from critics and audiences? The debate begins when the film gets released in May.

Rachel Weisz finds love on the Nile in film about ancient romance
Oscar winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") looks like she could pull off some Cleopatra-style Nefertiti eyeliner a good thing, considering that she’s going to be starring in a romance set in ancient Egypt.

Gay Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar ("The Others," "The Sea Inside") will direct the film, about a slave (Oscar Isaac of "The Nativity Story") who falls in love with his mistress (Weisz), a professor in Alexandria, at the dawn of the Christian era. Ashraf Barhom ("The Kingdom," "Paradise Now") co-stars as a zealous Christian monk.

Since snagging her statuette for "The Constant Gardener," Weisz has taken on a broad variety of roles in movies like "The Fountain," "Fred Claus" and "Definitely, Maybe," and this as-yet-untitled project which starts shooting this month promises to keep the talented pro’s resume soundly eclectic.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 22, 2008

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