×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Van Sant’s ‘Milk’ pours first

Sean Penn to star in Focus feature

“Milk” has beaten “The Mayor of Castro Street” to the greenlight.

Focus is moving forward with Gus Van Sant’s biopic about late gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, with Sean Penn in the title role. The film, co-financed by Groundswell Prods., will begin lensing in January.

Dueling Harvey Milk project “The Mayor of Castro Street,” meanwhile, is caught in strike limbo. 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.

Their project, based on Randy Shilts’ tome, has attracted several helmers in the past, including Van Sant at one point. Zadan admitted the situation is vexing but added, “Everything’s frustrating right now. There are a million things” that can’t move forward until the strike is resolved.

“Milk” has been in play for a much shorter period. Shortly after Van Sant became attached to Dustin Lance Black’s script in April, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen boarded the project.

Black is “an old friend of mine, and when I read in Variety that he was doing the project with Gus Van Sant, I called him up to congratulate him,” Jinks said.

That’s when he discovered the project didn’t yet have a producer. Soon after reading the script, Jinks and Cohen took it on. Groundswell CEO Michael London subsequently joined the project and agreed to co-finance. He is also producing.

Pic will shoot entirely in San Francisco, where Milk became the first openly gay man elected to office, in 1977. The next year, he and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death by city supervisor Dan White.

Cohen said it was one of those projects they couldn’t say no to, adding that a film devoted to Milk’s story was long overdue.

“It was crying out to be a movie,” he said.

The 1984 docu “The Times of Harvey Milk” won an Oscar, but “Milk” will be the first feature to go before cameras.

The uncertain status of “The Mayor of Castro Street” also leaves a potential opening on Singer’s calendar, since a “Superman” project seems unlikely before the expiration of DGA and SAG contracts in June. The director boarded “Castro Street” two years ago.

Jinks and Zadan have their own strike headaches: The last scripted episode of their frosh ABC skein “Pushing Daisies” is now shooting.

More Film

  • Loureiro’s Abano, Aragón’s Caribe Music Team

    Chelo Loureiro, Emilio Aragón Team on Animated ‘Valentina’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES – Spanish producer-turned director Chelo Loureiro of Galicia’s Ábano Producións has teamed with Spanish multi-hyphenate Emilio Aragón at Caribe Music to produce the upcoming animated feature “Valentina.” Valentina turns on a girl who is tired of having Down syndrome, and believes it to be the reason she’ll never be a trapeze artist. But Valentina’s [...]

  • Morelia Brings Four Shorts To Cannes

    Morelia’s Daniela Michel Presents Four Standout Mexican Shorts at Critics' Week

    Since 2005, the Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week and Mexico’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM) have enjoyed a reciprocal relationship. Each year, a selection of short competition films from Morelia is shown in a special selection at Critics’ Week, with the features from the Cannes section screening five months later in Morelia. The short film [...]

  • Fedor Bondarchuk Drops Teaser for ‘Attraction

    Fedor Bondarchuk Drops Teaser for ‘Attraction 2’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES–Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk and his Art Pictures Studio have released the English-subbed teaser to “Attraction 2,” the sequel to Bondarchuk’s 2017 sci-fi blockbuster, which Variety has acquired exclusively. The director behind record-breaking Russian films such as World War II epic “Stalingrad” was in Cannes this week, where he presented footage from Art Pictures’ slate of upcoming [...]

  • Gkids Takes North American Rights for

    Gkids Takes North American Rights for ‘Weathering With You’

    CANNES–Gkids, the U.S. distributor of 11 best animated feature Oscar nominees, has acquired North American rights for “Weathering With You,” the new film from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura. Gkids has set an awards-qualifying run for 2019 with a theatrical release in early 2020, in both the original Japanese and a new English-language [...]

  • Transilvania Film Fest Launches New SVOD

    Transilvania Film Fest Launches New SVOD Platform

    CANNES–The Transilvania Intl. Film Festival has announced a new SVOD service, TIFF Unlimited, which will launch during the festival’s 18th edition, which bows May 31 in Cluj, Romania. The service will curate titles from current and previous editions of the festival, while also showcasing other hand-picked auteur-driven productions, presented in partnership with local distributors. It [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content