By Romeo San Vicente
Jussie Smollett Is Going to Outer Space
You see him being cute and musically talented on Empire every week, as he implores his homophobic father to love him, possibly to will him that vast record industry fortune. But the next time you see Jussie Smollett in a non-Cookie-Lyon-adjacent position, he will be tackling a bigger and badder nemesis, aka that alien from Alien, in the next installment of Ridley Scott’s ongoing space monster franchise. Alien: Covenant, in production now and fairly secretive about all other details, is due in 2017 and will co-star Smollett. The up-and-comer will join cast members Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir and Carmen Ejogo as they deal with the development of the terror that will eventually become the world’s most gruesome headache for 1979’s Sigourney Weaver (we’re still in Prequel Land, in case you forgot). Spend the next year catching up on the others if you need to. Skip Prometheus if you want. Most people seem to think you should.
Alexander McQueen: The Movie
The short, shining career and tragic death of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, a sad story fueled by glamour, success, excess, drugs and suicide, seemed tailormade for the kind of cautionary biopic Hollywood loves to make. So now they’re making it, and acclaimed queer filmmaker Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) will be the man behind the camera. A screenwriter is in place, as well: Chris Urch, the hot playwright whose career is on the rise these days thanks to great reviews for The Rolling Stone, will work on the script, and there are no shortage of dramatic details. McQueen, the son of a taxi driver, ascended to fashion royalty, designing for David Bowie and Prince Charles, launching his own line while privately dealing with depression and drug dependence. He committed suicide in 2010, shocking the fashion world. Fortunately, Urch and Haigh are the sort of creative team that will handle this sensitively, giving the late legend the tribute he most deserves. In pre-production now, cameras are slated to roll by year’s end.
Watch Out for Lena Waithe
You were probably unaware that Lena Waithe existed until you saw her on Aziz Ansari’s hilarious sitcom, Master of None, where she plays one of his friends, a character that may be funniest, coolest, baddest lesbian TV has ever delivered. In fact, you might remember her now but still not know her name. That should be changing fairly soon, because behind the scenes, Waithe has been quite busy. She was a writer for Bones and a producer on the gay-inclusive Dear White People. And now she’s got her own pilot set up at Showtime, a coming-of-age drama about a young black man who must raise one of his children alone. Tequan Richmond (Everybody Hates Chris) will star alongside Aisha Hinds (Under the Dome), Alex Henderson (Empire) and Olivia Dawson (Empire). The series will be co-produced by Common, whose got brand name recognition, and because prestige product on cable television is one of the places where female creators of color get a better shot at success than the notoriously slow, white, and male world of mainstream Hollywood movie studios, there’s a better shot we’ll see the final result. Fingers crossed.
Vauxhall and Di
So there’s a story floating around, one that may or may not be fully true, and it involves Princess Diana sneaking out of Kensington Palace at night dressed as a man, accompanying her friend Freddie Mercury on a trip out to a gay bar, and getting away with it. And come on, you want that story to be real in such a major way that whether or not it actually happened is kind of irrelevant, right? Right. That’s why it’s been turned into a stage musical. The brand new baby production, known as _Royal Vauxhall_, from creator Desmond O’Connor, is still in the nightclub performance stage, but it’s already leaps ahead of the current jukebox musical trend, thanks to original songs and a scrappy sense of purpose, one where obscure but relevant gay cultural history is brought to light (or perhaps invented wholesale). Nobody knows where this is going, but it all feels very Hedwig-esque, possibly moving on to a huge, appreciative audience when a visionary investor comes aboard. Like they always say, “print the legend,” it’s just more fun.
Romeo San Vicente lives his own legendary status every day.