WB readies Milk biopic

Studio elects Singer to helm Boyce adaptation

Warner Bros. has set Bryan Singer to direct and his “Apt Pupil” writer Brandon Boyce to adapt “The Mayor of Castro Street,” Randy Shilts’ look at the life and assassination of San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk.

Milk, the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the U.S., was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by supervisor Daniel White.

Singer will produce with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and Tom DeSanto will also be a producer. WB’s Polly Cohen will supervise the pic. Plans are to shoot the film after Singer completes “Superman Returns,” now lensing in Australia.

Zadan and Meron have been trying to adapt the tome for 15 years, with Oliver Stone and Gus Van Sant once interested in the project.

“The last time we saw Randy before he passed away from AIDS, we promised him we’d make this movie, but only if it was done properly,” Zadan said. “With Bryan, we feel, for the first time since Oliver Stone, that we have the right director with the right vision.”

Stone was set to direct with Robin Williams starring until “JFK” was released and the director took such a bashing for his depiction of gay characters that he was reluctant to direct a film about a gay icon. Van Sant, Rob Cohen, Brian Gibson circled the project as did actors including Richard Gere, Daniel Day-Lewis and Kevin Kline.

The producers and WB grew so exasperated that they briefly considered making it with director Craig Lucas at HBO after the payweb’s adaptation of the Shilts book “And the Band Played On.”

On the Oz set of “Superman Returns,” Singer said he has been passionate about making the movie for at least eight years.

‘Paid the highest price’

“Harvey created a concept and pride for a disenfranchised group at a point in history when the world was in upheaval, and he paid the highest price for it,” Singer said.

Singer said he sparked to another movie with “Apt Pupil” scribe Boyce, who last wrote “Wicker Park” and just completed for Lakeshore an adaptation of the Tommy Thompson novel “Serpentine.” Meron said, “When we first developed the film, it felt like our side was moving forward and there was optimism for where civil rights for gays and lesbians was heading. It looks a little bleaker now.”

Singer is also supervising the preproduction of “Logan’s Run.” He has brought an art department with him to Australia.

As for “Superman Returns,” Singer, partway through the shoot, said that he has added another star name to the cast: the late actor Marlon Brando. Brando will once again play Superman’s father, Jor-El, thanks to vintage footage from the Richard Donner-directed 1978 pic. Singer said he has purchased all of that footage and plans to use it somehow in the new picture.

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