Deep In Hollywood

Dish on Kate McKinnon, Portia de Rossi and more

HBO Documentaries does gay stuff

This fall HBO Documentaries delivers a healthy amount of gay-related content to their weekly series, beginning Oct. 7 with first-time filmmaker Marta Cunningham’s Sundance Film Festival selection, Valentine Road. Cunningham explores the school shooting of a young teenager who had begun exploring his gender identity, as well as the issues surrounding the social services network and justice system flaws that complicate the lives of LGBT youth. On Dec. 2 comes The Battle of AMFAR, from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt). The film revisits the creation – in the 1980s – of America’s first national AIDS research foundation and the lives of its two founders, Dr. Mathilde Krim and Elizabeth Taylor. And finally, on Dec. 9, Six By Sondheim, a highly specific look at acclaimed Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim through the creation of six of his most well-loved songs. Directed by James Lapine, the film’s musical sequences will be co-directed by Todd Haynes (Mildred Pierce) and Autumn de Wilde, with new performances of the featured songs by Audra McDonald, Darren Criss, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Jeremy Jordan and America Ferrera. You get your Christmas present early with this one.


Now add Portia de Rossi

Casual fans of Portia de Rossi (a.k.a., everyone not a lesbian or otherwise addicted to Arrested Development) might not realize that the actress formerly known as Mandy Rogers also has a former dialect she dumped along with that birth name. Born in Australia, she worked hard to lose her accent for work in America and it took so well there’s not a trace left. But now the actor is headed back to her homeland to shoot a comedy called Now Add Honey for husband-and-wife filmmaking team Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler. The couple are vets of Australian sitcoms and the feature is about a family thrown into chaos when their pop star cousin (presumably played by de Rossi) comes home to live with them. Word is that Mrs. de Rossi (OK, Ellen DeGeneres) will join her wife for the Australian shoot. But the big question is what sort of accent will we hear from the assimilated American? We’re hoping she goes for that croaking Ke$ha vocal fry.


Kate McKinnon dominates in Intramural everything

Speaking of Ellen (sort of), Kate McKinnon – SNL’s resident DeGeneres mimic and rising lesbian star in her own right – will become the next person to make the leap from the sketch comedy series onto the big screen with Intramural. Sitting squarely in the plot camp occupied by goofy, low-stakes comedies like Dodgeball, Intramural is about a fifth-year college student dragging his heels toward graduation and life responsibility who decides to organize one last epic intramural football season before… oh gosh, do you really care? It’s another man-child comedy, the kind we all secretly love but pretend to be snobby about. Andrew Disney will direct a script written by Bradley Jackson and the cast includes – alongside McKinnon – Jake Lacy (The Office), Nikki Reed (The Twilight Saga franchise) and another SNL star, Jay Pharoah. The film will shoot in Austin, Texas, and true to its subject matter has a very realistic goal in mind, thanks to director Disney, who says, “…we’re setting out to make an epic sports movie for the guys who don’t deserve one.”


Janis Joplin picture closer to reality

This column is in the business of announcing new projects. Sometimes they come to fruition, sometimes not. TV pilots and movie deals enter development, slowly wind their way through set-up and execution. Or they go to Development Hell and are quickly forgotten. But no news item has had the legs of the alleged Janis Joplin biopic. It’s the story that will never die, the project nobody wants to abandon, no matter how long it takes. Remember back to all those casting announcements? Sure you do. They go at least as far back as 2000 when Brittany Murphy was the name on everyone’s lips. Thirteen years later it’s Amy Adams’ turn and so far she’s still on board. But who’ll direct? The man currently “in talks” is The Butler’s Lee Daniels. We approve of this. He’s a filmmaker who likes outsize emotions and high drama, both of which were in plentiful supply with Ms. Joplin. And, who knows, maybe he’ll sign on and stick around, too. Or maybe not. It’s Hollywood. Thirteen more years down the road and it’ll star Elle Fanning and be directed by North Kardashian West.


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