If You're Nasty
OK, it's official: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are working too much. It's impossible to keep track of how many projects these two out super-producers have going, but even so, this new one will sound sweet to queer ears. Janet Jackson will star in the Zadan-Meron produced Lena, a musical TV movie about the life of diva Lena Horne. Set to air on ABC sometime in May 2004, the film is based on Horne's autobiography of the same name. Just don't expect to hear the real Lena singing. That job will be handled by Miss Jackson as she covers Horne's classics, giving her an opportunity to show more range than the pop niche she's carved for herself. It will also give her a chance to flex her acting muscles in something more substantial than a Nutty Professor movie.
Cantone Playing It Straight?
Mario Cantone as Anthony, Kristin Davis' best gay friend on Sex and the City, may redefine the words 'hissing' and 'bitchy' when he appears on that show, but now it looks like he'll get to redefine the word 'straight' if his own sitcom makes it. The gay actor has just signed a deal with 20th Century Fox's Imagine TV to star in and co-executive-produce a sitcom aimed for the fall 2004 season. Current plans for the Cantone-created show include two characters, one gay and one straight, with the actor possibly playing both men, a la The Patty Duke Show. Just cross your queer fingers that this funny homo's project doesn't meet the same fate as Rupert Everett's dead-in-the-water sitcom, Mr. Ambassador. Or Nathan Lane's Life of the Party. Or Nathan Lane's Encore! Encore! Or ...
Baldwin Meets Halston
Beefy Alec Baldwin may not be the first actor who comes to mind to play skinny, glamorous, couture queen Halston, but he's the one who got the part. Baldwin will be playing the famously flamboyant late designer, aka Roy Frowick, in the soon-to-shoot biopic Simply Halston, based on Steven S. Gaines' 1991 book. In the planning stages for way too long, the film finally has a director attached (openly gay Dan Minahan, who co-wrote I Shot Andy Warhol and directed the indie Series 7), and a cast that includes Tony winner Jane Krakowski as Liza Minnelli, Halston's partner in Studio 54 hijinks. Is the butch Baldwin up to the task of inhabiting the sissy who made even his signature fragrance bottles phallus-shaped? Who knows? At least they didn't cast Baldwin's brother Daniel.
Burstyn Tells All
She's Oscar-nominated (Requiem for a Dream, The Last Picture Show, and The Exorcist) and Oscar-winning (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), but Ellen Burstyn actually began her career on Broadway in 1957 with Fair Game. This October she returns to her New York stage roots in a one-woman show based on gay novelist Allan Gurganus' Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. Adapted for the stage by veteran TV producer Martin Tahse and directed by Don Scardino, the play is all Burstyn, all the time, as the 70-year-old actor recounts the story of the bride of a Civil War veteran. The show ran earlier this year in San Diego, where some less-than-kind critics compared it to Betty White's St. Olaf tales on Golden Girls, but here's hoping the kinks are all worked out by now. And besides, somebody must have liked Betty's long-winded stories, right?