Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Skimmed Milk
by Frank Robinson
2008-11-12

This article shared 3379 times since Wed Nov 12, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


With Milk, the movie based on the life of the late San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, scheduled for theatrical release Nov. 26, Windy City Times will run a series of related articles over the next few weeks. First up is Milk's friend and speechwriter, Frank Robinson, with his account of being in the Gus Van Sant-directed film. ( Note: This account originally ran in an 'eFanzine' started by Earl Kemp. )

An amazing experience. They had a guy picked out to play me—met him later on—and then Sean Penn, Gus van Sant ( director ) , and Lance Black ( screenwriter—smart, talented, a workhorse and friendly ) came over to the house and Penn interviewed me for an hour and a half about Harvey ( I used to be Harvey's speechwriter ) . Afterward, took them all to dinner at an upscale Burmese restaurant on Castro. Sean had to leave early and I entertained Gus and Lance with tales about Rogue and Playboy. Naturally, they were fascinated ( translation: bored stiff ) .

After I wound down, Gus asked if I wanted to be in the film. I told him I'd never acted, couldn't act and I'd forgotten every line when I was the lead in a grammar-school play. He said it was only going to be one word: 'Dogshit.' I said I thought I could manage that, and my career as a movie star was born.

The first scene I was in was set in Harvey's old camera shop. They rented the old store on Castro and remodeled it into a reasonable facsimile of Harvey's camera shop. It looked very close to the original. First scene, 'Danny' ( Lucas Gabreel, star of High School Musical on HBO ) is sorting film in the corner, Scott Smith ( Harvey's lover, played by James Franco ) is at the desk, and two of Harvey's political consultants are talking in the background. I'm sitting in a corner as 'wallpaper'—saying nothing at all. ( All of Harvey's old people—those of us still alive—had cameos as a courtesy ) . I'm to be seen, not heard.

Franco—nice guy, very much an agent provocateur when it comes to film—notices that I'm twiddling my thumbs, trying to look fascinated, grins and asks me: 'Hey, Robinson—did you get laid last night?' I was a ) astonished and b ) felt challenged. ( Hey, fellas, I've been writing dialog all my life. ) I say, 'Yeah, Scott, I got laid last night' and told a dirty joke I made up on the spot.

Harvey's camera shop

I cracked up everybody on the set and was promoted immediately to SAG ( the Screen Actors Guild ) . I subsequently ad-libbed dialog with Sean Penn and others ( no lines were ever written for me ) . I was in a total of 17 scenes—most of them 'riot' scenes ( marches on City Hall, etc. ) After my last scene, I asked Gus for my gold watch. Instead he gave me a little eulogy before the entire cast and crew. Loud applause and hugs all around. Next day they shoot Sean giving a speech before a crowd of gays in front of City Hall and I recognize it as one I wrote. Very proud. Day after that they interviewed me for an hour on the 'making of' part for the DVD.

Movie will be released Nov. 26. I don't know how well it will be received but I've read the script ( had read several others years ago ) and it's very good—first and last scenes will nail people in their seats. I imagine very few people remember the details of Harvey's life but, story wise, it was damned dramatic. The last of the storefront politicians who ran for public office with no money and was elected, whose lover ( not Scott ) was a suicide, and who was executed along with the mayor by a disaffected fellow supervisor.

The film does not cover the riots that followed when the supervisor was tried for murder and the jury of old ladies from his district decided it was involuntary manslaughter and Dan White ( the assassin ) was given seven years ( five, with time off for good behavior ) for 'involuntary manslaughter.' The gay part of the city blew up. Five thousand marched on City Hall; tore up the pavement and broke the windows on the ground floor; and fought the [ tactical ] squad when it showed up. Eleven police cars torched, a hundred gays sent to the ER—some 70 cops as well. Later that night, cops took off their badges and invaded the Castro to beat up pedestrians on the street, wreck the Elephant Bar, etc. There were reports of gays with rifles on surrounding rooftops and I believe them. The Castro was our 'turf' and I think we came within an inch of Watts and the National Guard....

The film doesn't cover that, restricting itself to Harvey and his life. Some years later, when the AIDS crisis hit, neither the state ( Reagan was governor ) nor the feds were of any help. What help there was came from the city and those gay organizations that had grown up during Harvey's campaigns and his time as supervisor.

God, it's hard to believe. It all happened 30 years ago and to most people it is ancient history. For me, I will never forget it and will always be proud of the small part I played.

I thought I'd be camera shy—I wasn't. I thought I'd be tongue-tied trading lines—made-up ones at that—with Penn, Franco and the others. I just pretended I was talking to the real Scott and Harvey and everything went just fine.

There's a whole helluva lot more to tell but I can't give away the movie; I have to leave that to the publicity guys. The caterers were the best in town, it was an extremely friendly cast and crew and, frankly, I think I was treated like fine porcelain. Well, that is except for the time when we were told it was a night shoot and would run from 6 to 3 a.m. My doctor assured me I wouldn't have a heart attack on the set but I pissed and moaned once I got there and they locked me in an actors' trailer until it was time for my part in the shoot. I had no lines but I had to appear for fear the audience would wonder what had happened to me. Ah, the villains—but I'm so grateful they did. The most moving scene of all....

I don't know how it will do. I'm told the first edit is great. The cast is terrific: Sean Penn ( Oscar for Mystic River ) , Josh Brolin ( one of the stars in this year's Oscar winner, No Country for Old Men ) , James Franco ( Spider-Man's murderous friend in the Spider-Man movies ) , Diego Luna ( a star in Y Tu Mama Tambien ) , Joseph Cross ( star of Running With Scissors ) , Emile Hirsch ( star of Into the wild ) , Brandon Boyce ( actor and the screenwriter for Apt Pupil ) , Lucas Garbeel ( star of HBO's High School Musical, ) and, of course—moi.

How can it lose? Well, easy, I suppose. ... I suspect the major actors went for it for Screen Actors Guild minimum but a piece of the action. The acting talent is really deep.... There's sex, humor, drama, and above all—hey, this really happened!!!!

In one scene I had, I channeled not thirty years ago but close to sixty. For me, it wasn't acting, it was reality. Oddly, I think it was too emotional for the scene. ( Penn suspected I was coming apart on set and gave me a huge hug. Don't know if he knew how much it meant to me. )

Probably I'll have more to say once the film comes out and I'm in no danger of revealing anything beforehand.

It was a great experience. I suspect my magazine experience helped me. A lot of similarity between the written and the spoken word. But movies are vastly more complex and require vastly more people ( extras alone went as high as 4,000 for some of the crowd scenes in Milk ) and equipment. Utterly fascinating watching the mechanical part of things... The actors are like fingers on a hand—the crew, cameras, sound men, lighting guys and truckloads of equipment make up the rest of the body. The director holds all of this in his hands and how van Sant did it, I'll never understand.

How did it feel once it was all finished—no more getting up at 6 a.m. to be on the set at 9 a.m., no more sitting in wardrobe shooting the shit with the other 200 extras, etc.?

The wrap party was the end of it and, the next morning, it felt like there was a huge void in my life. Everybody had left and there I was, standing alone with the last of the confetti drifting down. I never felt so lonely in all my life.


This article shared 3379 times since Wed Nov 12, 2008
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula' 2021-10-17
- The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...


Gay News

Wizard World Comic Con returns to Chicago 2021-10-17
- After being canceled last year because of the COVID pandemic, Wizard World Comic Con Chicago returned to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Oct. 15-17—and thousands of people attended. People ranging from attendees to vendors ...


Gay News

Jury selection in Smollett trial starts Nov. 29 2021-10-15
- The Jussie Smollett saga continues. Almost three years since out actor Jussie Smollett (TV's Empire; the film Alien: Covenant) was allegedly attacked in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, Cook County Judge James ...


Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24 2021-10-15
- North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...


Gay News

MOVIES Holiday comedy short centers on Muslim family and BIPOC queer relationship 2021-10-13
- The short film The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night follows Noor, a Muslim queer woman, and her experience with bringing her Puerto Rican partner home to meet her family for the first time. When Noor's ...


Gay News

THEATER 'A Rocky Horror Picture Party' at The Den on Oct. 30-31 2021-10-12
- Haven is presenting Science Fiction / Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party—an immersive Halloween experience that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film—directed by ...


Gay News

PBS to air queer documentary 'Things We Dare Not Do' Oct. 25 2021-10-12
- American Documentary | POV announced the national broadcast premiere of Things We Dare Not Do (Cosas que no hacemos), the second feature film from Mexican director and cinematographer Bruno Santamaría, as part of POV's 34th season. ...


Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out 2021-10-09
- The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...


Gay News

MOVIES Colman Domingo to star in Bayard Rustin biopic 2021-10-09
- LGBTQ+ actor Colman Domingo—who has been in movies such as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Candyman, and TV shows ranging from Fear the Walking Dead to The Big Gay Sketch Show—has landed the lead role the ...


Gay News

Filmmakers Bennett Singer, Patrick Sammon talk new documentary Cured 2021-10-07
- Producer-directors Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon have created a new LGBTQ documentary: Cured. The film tells the story of the LGBTQ activists, allies and events surrounding the American Psychiatric Association's ...


Gay News

Sisters in Cinema, DocuClub providing consulting opportunities to filmmakers 2021-10-07
- Sisters in Cinema—a Chicago-based 501(C)3 that aims to center and celebrate Black girls, women and gender non-conforming media makers—and DocuClub, a work-in-progress screening series, have entered into a strategic partnership ...


Gay News

Int'l Film Fest to premiere queer Muslim film directed by Chicagoan Fawzia Mirza 2021-10-05
--From a press release - LOS ANGELES CA - THE SYED FAMILY XMAS EVE GAME NIGHT will have its U.S. premiere at the 57th edition of the Chicago International Film Festival running October 13 - 24, 2021. This comes on the ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Queer/Art,' sports items, Kevin Bacon, Indya Moore 2021-10-03
- Queer|Art—New York City's home for the creative and professional development of LGBTQ+ artists—announced the fall season of Queer|Art|Film, returning in person through Dec. 13, a press release noted. The line-up ...


Gay News

WORLD Movie items, tennis survey, German politics, Thai court 2021-10-03
- Kenya's Film Censorship Board (KFCB) banned I Am Samuel, claiming the documentary—which has a gay protagonist—contravenes Kenyan values, Human Rights Watch noted. In a statement, the KFCB denounced the film ...


Gay News

Pritzker Military Museum, Library to screen TransMilitary doc, Q&A with special guests 2021-09-28
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL (September 27, 2021) On Thursday, Sept. 30, at 5:30 p.m., the Pritzker Military Museum & Library will host the screening of the 2018 SXSW Audience Award Winner for Best Documentary TransMilitary. The program will ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.