Rent Is Due for Diggs and Rapp
If you've been feeling a little nostalgic for the '90s lately - and who hasn't been, really? - then your retro yearning is about to be satisfied. After a few false starts, the film version of that decade's hit Broadway musical, Rent, will finally be going before the cameras. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets director Chris Columbus has taken the reins, and the movie is in the casting stage. The coolest development of all, however, is that the original cast members have been approached to take on the roles they created when the show was in its off-Broadway days. Taye Diggs ( Kevin Hill, Chicago ) and out gay actor Anthony Rapp are in talks to reprise their characters, as are fellow cast members Idina Menzel, Jesse L. Martin, and Adam Pascal. No word on production schedules yet, so be ready to wait a little longer than 525,600 minutes for it to arrive at a theater near you.
Madonna's Royal Voice
Look, Who's That Girl was totally underrated, OK? And director Luc Besson ( The Fifth Element ) must think so, too, because he just cast Madonna in his latest project. The Swept Away star will lend her voice to the big-budget, computer-animated Arthur, to be based on a series of popular children's books penned by Besson himself. The story revolves around 10-year-old Arthur, a boy who embarks on a treasure hunt to save his grandfather's house from greedy real-estate developers. Madonna will voice the part of Princess Selenia, Arthur's traveling companion and guide to the secret land of the Minimoys, where the treasure is hidden. Mrs. Ritchie's speaking part is being recorded now, and the movie is shooting for a 2006 release - when, it is hoped, she'll avoid more Razzie Award nominations.
Weeds Grow for Parker and Perkins
In his feature debut, the comedy Saved, gay director Brian Dannelly skewered stringent religious conservatives. Now he's about to do the same for the drug wars. The director is working on a series pilot for Showtime starring Mary-Louise Parker ( Angels in America ) called Weeds. Elizabeth Perkins will co-star in the series about a suburban mom ( Parker ) whose life is thrown into a tailspin by the unexpected death of her husband. To make ends meet, she becomes a drug dealer, selling marijuana from home, all the while maintaining her otherwise conventional PTA-mother existence. No air date is known at the moment, nor is there word on whether the story line includes her children suddenly becoming the most popular kids in school.
50 Cent Comes Out - As an Actor
The notoriously thuggish and homophobic rapper 50 Cent ( earlier this year, he told Playboy magazine that he's 'not into faggots' ) has been rewarded for his verbal skills with a film role in a new feature from director Jim Sheridan ( In America ) . The working title of the Paramount/MTV-produced picture is Locked and Loaded, an appropriate title given 50's past run-ins with firearms. In a crime-oriented take on the Curtis Hanson/Eminem drama 8 Mile, Mr. Cent will play an inner-city drug dealer who steps away from a life of crime to pursue a career in hip-hop. Cameras roll in early 2005, and rappers Dr. Dre and Eminem are expected to be involved either on screen or simply as contributing musicians on the soundtrack. Meanwhile, Romeo is hoping that good dirt gets leaked by queer crew members.