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Gus van Sant and Sean Penn are First to Spill Milk

Gus van Sant and producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks will be first out of the gate with their Harvey Milk biopic, which is set to begin shooting in January with Sean Penn confirmed as the slain gay rights leader.

PennBack in September I posted that Penn was planning to sign on, news which was confirmed on Friday. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Bruna Papandrea of Groundswell, William Horberg and 'Milk' screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have come aboard as executive producers. Groundswell CEO Michael London also will serve in a producing capacity on the film."

Van Sant's Milk is one of two dueling projects based on the life of the San Francisco's supervisor. The other, The Mayor of Castro Street, with director Bryan Singer and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron attached, has apparently been held up by the writer's strike.

Variety reports: "According to producer Craig Zadan, Christopher McQuarrie's script is ready, but it wasn't turned in before the strike. Bryan Singer, who's busy with 'Valkyrie,' is attached to direct that project for Warner Independent. 'Everything's all set; the problem is, because of the writers strike, we can't do anything,' said Zadan, who's been developing the project with producing partner Neil Meron for 15 years."

WahlbergTowleroad has heard some rumors about who else might be lined up for the Gus van Sant film.

Consider this completely unsubstantiated, but we hear that James Franco is in talks to play Milk's brother Robert, and Mark Wahlberg is in talks to play Milk assassin and fellow SF supervisor Dan White.

Matt Damon had been attached to play White, but according to a spokesperson from Focus Features who spoke to Variety, "Matt Damon was not attached when Focus came on board to acquire the project."

Previously
Gus van Sant Snaps Up Penn and Damon for Harvey Milk Film [tr]
Singer and Van Sant Vie to be First with Harvey Milk Film [tr]
Harvey Milk to get Bust at San Francisco City Hall [tr]
Thank God for Harvey Milk [tr]

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Comments

  1. Ugh looks like "MMLOBE" got through the spam filter. Tard

    Posted by: Jake | Nov 19, 2007 9:46:11 AM


  2. As much as I looked forward to the last major gay film project Towleroad tracked, the now classic "Brokeback Mountain," I still predict that this will be the converse of BBM; an box office failure [like most of Van Sant's and Penn's projects], and, without a major star in another role, have none of the crossover to nongay audiences appeal that BBM created, and they need to see this story much more than gays do. Penn is so hated by the average American that the only thing that MIGHT encourage them to buy a ticket is the pleasure of seeing him shot on screen as Milk. And it guarantees that the other project, which might stand a better chance with sane casting, will never be made. The final tragedy in the Milk/Moscone/White saga.

    Speaking of casting:

    "Castro casting call attracts many born after Harvey Milk's heyday

    Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    More than 100 people an hour showed up Saturday at a daylong casting call in San Francisco's Castro district hoping to land a part in a feature film on Harvey Milk.

    Milk, who owned a camera shop on Castro Street, was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the country. He was gunned down by one of his former colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November 1978, just 11 months after winning election.

    Gus Van Sant, director of the film - titled "Milk" and starring Sean Penn in the lead role - said the focus will be "on Harvey, his camera shop, his politics at City Hall."

    San Francisco, and particularly the Castro, will serve as backdrop.

    The Castro was America's gay Main Street in the 1970s, and Milk was the neighborhood's de facto mayor.

    Van Sant said he will "not be able to get the full reality" of the Castro of 30 years ago - a pre-AIDS era bursting with sex, drugs and political awakening - but certainly will allude to it in the film.

    Saturday's casting call, held at an elementary school on Sanchez and 16th streets, was intended for men 18 to 40. Some of the almost 800 who showed up were considerably older but weren't turned away.

    Few looked like they were frozen in a 1970s snapshot, but with the right jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, haircuts and mustaches - and the magic of Hollywood - the transformation isn't that hard to imagine.

    The audition was little more than filling out a form and having a photo taken, just enough to give the production team an idea of who should be called back for a more-extensive tryout - either for a speaking part or as an extra. Another casting call is expected to be scheduled with the hopes of drawing in a bigger pool, said producer Dan Jinks.

    Many of those trying out for the movie hadn't been born when Milk won his election 30 years ago.

    "I know that he was openly gay, that he was mayor of San Francisco, or actually a supervisor, who was shot to death by a fellow supervisor," said Monty Suwannukul, a 22-year-old production assistant from San Francisco. He said he didn't know much more.

    Zachary Culbertson, 27, learned of the slain supervisor when he was studying astrology 10 years ago and came across Milk's name in a list of famous people's birthdays. "May 22, 1930," he said.

    Culbertson, a doorman at a topless bar in North Beach, didn't know a lot more about Milk, either.

    That's one of the chief reasons Cleve Jones, founder of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, is eager to see Milk's story depicted in a feature film - although an Oscar-winning documentary, "The Times of Harvey Milk," was released more than 20 years ago.

    Jones, 53, is a consultant on the movie. The film will be shot on location in San Francisco for eight weeks starting Jan. 21.

    "I still give talks at colleges and high schools and all the time I meet LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students who have no idea of their history - and that's dangerous," said Jones, who considered Milk a mentor. "They enjoy their freedom, but many of them don't know that their freedom hasn't been around that long."

    Milk, a former Navy man and street organizer, was at the forefront of the gay rights movement. He believed one of the most powerful tools gays and lesbians had to gain acceptance and secure civil rights protections was to come out of the closet to neighbors, relatives and co-workers.

    Less than a year after taking office, he and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death by Dan White, who served on the Board of Supervisors before quitting. White wanted his old seat back, and when Moscone refused, White killed the mayor and Milk.

    Tom Schnitter, a 38-year-old social worker from San Francisco, knows the story well - and wants it told to a broad audience that a Sean Penn-Gus Van Sant project can reach. And he would like to be part of it.

    "Harvey Milk is one of my heroes," said the tryout hopeful, who was still a boy when Milk was elected. "I just imagine what the world would be like if he was still alive. I feel the political scene would have been so different. He provided so much hope."

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Nov 19, 2007 11:04:15 AM


  3. It seems that too often, gay people forget that Mayor Moscone was also killed when Harvey was assassinated... Mayor Moscone helped to make San Francisco a Gay Friendly city before it was fashionable for politicians to support gay causes.
    George spoke at the Golden Gate Gay Business Association, he threw out the Opening Day pitch for the Gay Community Softball League several times and appeared at various gay fund raisers, including "Moon Over Miami" at the Castro Theater,
    to help fight Anita Bryant's anti-gay programs. When it's time to think of what might of been... I believe Mayor Moscone, as well as Harvey Milk would of became great statesmen for the good of the City, and the Nation, for gay and human Rights.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin | Nov 22, 2007 5:16:34 PM


  4. It seems that too often, gay people forget that Mayor Moscone was also killed when Harvey was assassinated... Mayor Moscone helped to make San Francisco a Gay Friendly city before it was fashionable for politicians to support gay causes.
    George spoke at the Golden Gate Gay Business Association, he threw out the Opening Day pitch for the Gay Community Softball League several times and appeared at various gay fund raisers, including "Moon Over Miami" at the Castro Theater,
    to help fight Anita Bryant's anti-gay programs. When it's time to think of what might of been... I believe Mayor Moscone, as well as Harvey Milk would of became great statesmen for the good of the City, and the Nation, for gay and human Rights.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin | Nov 22, 2007 5:16:48 PM


  5. "Penn is so hated by the average American " -- if said "Average American" is a right-wing asshole.

    Equating box office success with artistic quality is likewise a right-wing "meme." By such standards" "Citizen Kane" is a less-important film than "A Night at the Museum."

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 25, 2007 2:17:19 PM


  6. don't forget the part where harvey milk used to sexually harass dan white all the time and humiliate him publically....

    Posted by: alan brickman | Nov 25, 2007 9:58:35 PM


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