Film | Gay Rights | Gus van Sant | Harvey Milk | News | San Francisco | Sean Penn

EXCLUSIVE: Victor Garber, Denis O'Hare, Stephen Spinella Join Milk


I have some exciting news to report regarding Gus van Sant's Milk film starring Sean Penn as slain gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, which begins shooting in San Francisco next week.

MilkTowleroad has learned exclusively from Focus Features that Broadway, film and TV veteran Victor Garber (Titanic) has signed on to play Mayor George Moscone, who was shot and killed by supervisor Dan White just moments before White took Milk's life as well.

Tony-award winning actor Denis O'Hare (Charlie Wilson's War, Michael Clayton, Brothers & Sisters) has been cast as State Senator John Briggs who sponsored Proposition 6 (the Briggs Initiative), the 1978 measure that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in California's public schools. Milk was instrumental in the battle against The Briggs Initiative and his success in defeating it made him a figure to be reckoned with in California politics and the emerging gay rights movement.

Finally, veteran Broadway, film and TV actor Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) has signed on to play Milk's gay District 5 political rival, attorney Rick Stokes. Milk defeated Stokes, in his fourth attempt at becoming supervisor, after the Castro was given its own voting district.

The three veteran actors join an accomplished cast led by Penn. Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) is set to play assassin Dan White, Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) has been cast as gay rights activist Cleve Jones, a close ally of Milk's who went on to found the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. James Franco (Spider-Man 3) will play Scott Smith, Milk's lover and campaign manager.

San Francisco Supervisor and former teacher Tom Ammiano has been cast as himself in the film.

Last week, I reported that preparations were already well underway by the Milk team to transform San Francisco's Castro district back to the way it was in the 70's by performing a cosmetic facelift that would return classic gay bars like Toad Hall to their original sites.

Singer's Harvey Milk Film in Jeopardy as Van Sant's Gains Steam [tr]
Gay San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano to Join Milk Film [tr]
Castro Street to Undergo "Time Warp" for Milk Biopic [tr]
Exclusive: Inside Harvey Milk's Castro Street Camera Shop Today [tr]
Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco Sign on to Milk Film [tr]

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  1. I love Tom (well, as much as I can love anyone I've never met) but how is he going to play himself many many years ago?

    I mean, really.

    I would love to look like I did even 10 years ago, let alone 19.

    Posted by: Joe Bua | Jan 15, 2008 6:29:32 PM

  2. Well, they could use the same technology they used on Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in X-Men 3.

    (which if you haven't seen it, allowed them to play the characters as they would have appeared years previously)

    Posted by: EireKev | Jan 15, 2008 6:45:34 PM

  3. How funny that Tom Ammiano of all people will be the token gay in the cast in a movie about gays.

    Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that society has evolved that now gay stories and characters are getting screen time, ( I call it the Brokeback effect).

    It's just that it feels a bit like we're in the gay version of "white people in black face" phase.

    I just hope we go from trendy fad to classic smoothly.

    oh, and JOE: it's called CGI ;-)

    Posted by: rich | Jan 15, 2008 6:49:22 PM

  4. Rich,
    Are you for real? The three men he just listed are all out.

    Posted by: kiddfh25 | Jan 15, 2008 7:14:07 PM

  5. Great cast. This thing is starting to look like serious Oscar bait.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 15, 2008 7:35:18 PM

  6. But is the movie going to be about Harvey Milk's agenda...or Sean Penn's? The now-collapsing project with Steve Carrell as Milk might have been more "authentic"; rather than the sanitized, politically-correct Leftist-polemic that I fear the Guy Van Sant-version will be.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Jan 15, 2008 8:48:38 PM

  7. You know Ted you really should read up your history. It's funny it was conservative queens like you bitching back then too. The more things change, the more you queens stay the same.

    Posted by: akaison | Jan 15, 2008 9:38:04 PM

  8. Hollywood is Democratic, not liberal. There's a difference. A pity that the jarheads on the right are never subtle enough to discern such contrasts.

    Most of the workers in Hollywood are union members. Most unions are loyal to the party. They're not fighting for any particular cause or ideology. They're merely looking out for their own interest.

    Posted by: John | Jan 16, 2008 3:05:36 AM

  9. JOHN,

    you make a good distinction, although i'm not sure what it has to do with this thread. nevertheless, in keeping with my belief that everyone is entitled to my opinion, i will expound on your thoughts.

    union members understand that there is power in numbers and that excluding groups of people is self-defeating, hence the array of disparate people working together. truly democratic.

    the right-wing, as you suggest, is not given to nuanced thinking; ergo, their characterization of actors as la-la-land effetes, forgetting that most come from various and varied sections of america, canada, mexico, and elsewhere -- a smorgasbord of beliefs (cultural, religious, spiritual, etc.) tied together by creativity.

    may the creative community, unions, liberals, and democrats save us from the philistines, for they are no longer at the gates; they are on our lawns.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 16, 2008 7:42:32 AM

  10. a while back my friend took me to see sweet charity with christina applegate and denis o'hare was excellent, great comic timing that dude has

    Posted by: davey | Jan 16, 2008 9:40:15 AM

  11. I don't need to " up on your history" when it comes to Harvey Milk and San Francisco, I'm old enough to remember when it happened in real-time.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Jan 16, 2008 12:52:22 PM

  12. TED B,

    how do you keep a rhino from charging?

    yeah, i know... old joke.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 16, 2008 2:55:18 PM

  13. Gus is not interested in "Saint Harvey."

    Read the "Gus For Mayor" chapter of my book, "Open Secret" for the whole story.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jan 19, 2008 4:00:02 PM

  14. I believe that Victor Garber is too pretty to have never been married, or seen steadily with women. I loved him on Ugly Betty as the Pulitzer-prize winning creative writing professor. I think he is gay. I'd do him.

    Posted by: greatdane813 | Jan 21, 2008 9:08:12 PM

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