Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Wonder Woman approves of Robert Pattinson as the new Batman and Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman!
“Rob looks amazing,” Gal Gadot told me last night at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event at the Academy Museum when I asked if she had seen the new “The Batman” trailer. “I love his voice and I love the whole tone of everything.
“And I love Zoë. She looks incredible. She’s a sweetheart. She’s a talented woman,” she continued. “And I’m so happy to have another female as a comrade.”
So when does Gadot think we’ll see an all-female superhero movie with Wonder Woman? “That’s a good question,” she said. “We should ask [DC Films president] Walter Hamada.”
Gadot added with a laugh, “Actually, I’m going to write that in my notes to ask him.”
Unfortunately, former Catwoman Halle Berry wasn’t as up on the new “Batman” trailer. “I haven’t seen it,” she told me. Berry has been busy in the editing bay finishing her directorial debut “Bruised,” and she has no plans on slipping into her catsuit again anytime soon. While Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton will reprise their roles as the Caped Crusader in the upcoming “The Flash” movie, Berry says she’s hung up her whip. “Probably not,” she said, laughing. “I think I’m good.”
Jodie Turner-Smith and Joshua Jackson tell me they’re looking for a movie to star in together. “I think it has to be some sort of political thriller romance or maybe an old- school ’80s ‘Romancing the Stone’-style movie,” Jackson told me when I caught up with the couple at a party for fashion brand COS at San Vicente Bungalows. Turner-Smith said, “I think it should definitely be a comedy. Hopefully something soon.”
Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon” marks the first time John Lithgow has worked with the legendary director. “I’ve been waiting for years,” the actor tells me. “I’m not exactly Scorsese material, but I’m playing a Midwestern prosecuting attorney in this one, so it’s like, now you’re talking. You weren’t going to find me in ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘Casino.’ It ain’t me, babe. But thank God he came calling.”
Lithgow will next be heard starring in “The Guilty,” an Audible Original from James Patterson about a murder at the opening night of a Broadway play. Lithgow plays a playwright named Osmund Box. The cast also includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Peter Gallagher, Aldis Hodge, Corey Stoll and Danny Burstein. Lithgow recorded his part during lockdown at Bell Sound Studios in L.A. “It was just me and my sound engineer,” he says. “I had my director and writer on Zoom. They were in Chicago and in New York. There was a wonderful actress who was feeding me my lines from all the characters. It was a strange, solitary experience.”
Lithgow’s audio-only work dates back to the 1970s. “My first job in New York before I got a single acting job was on WBAI doing radio satire and drama,” he recalls. “In fact, we had a shows called ‘Cold Reading,’ where I would just gather a bunch of friends and we would just read classic plays by Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare. We would read them completely cold! We wouldn’t even rehearse. ” Lithgow is not surprised by the emergence of original audio dramas: “This an era in which we drive in cars and listen to audio books or have our AirPods on while we’re cooking dinner,” he says. “Audible has tapped into that and has done a brilliant job of just spreading it around.”
He has recently been seeing as much Broadway as he can now that shows are reopening. But Lithgow, who won a Tony for his work in the 2002 musical “Sweet Smell of Success,” doesn’t have any plans to return to the New York stage … yet. “I stumbled across an idea only two days ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it,” he says. “It’s a slam-dunk of an idea. I’m not going to say what it is because it probably will never happen, but I’m full of bright ideas.”
EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that a scripted series adaptation of “LuLaRich,” Amazon Prime Video’s docuseries about pyramid scheme fashion empire LuLaRoe, is being shopped around by Story Force Entertainment (Blye Faust and Cori Shepherd Stern) and the Cinemart (Julia Willoughby Nason, Jenner Furst and Mike Gasparro). Let the casting ideas begin!
CONGRATS: The Tom of Finland Foundation raised about $11,000 with two benefit dinners at the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park. Produced by the Disco Dining Club, the menu included smoked herring, salmon, meatballs, filet and cheesecake. Rounding out the evenings were nude drawing demonstrations, a puppet show and naughty-named specialty cocktails.
Jaclyn Moore, who recently made headlines when she announced she would no longer work with Netflix because of Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comments in his latest comedy special, is in New Orleans working as a writer and co-showrunner of Peacock’s “Queer as Folk” reboot. It’s inspired by the original British “QAF” series as opposed to the U.S. adaptation that aired on Showtime.
“The big difference between the two is that the American version is very polished, like a nighttime soap,” Moore says. “The British version is gritty and punk rock. There’s a punk energy to the British version that is defiant and really middle fingers in the air.” And the new version will be much more diverse than the earlier takes. “A sin of both the previous versions of the show is that it’s a predominantly, overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly cis thing,” Moore says. “In the same way that I think there’s value in revivals on Broadway and re-contextualizing stories, I think there’s value in writing trans folks, women, people of color into this iconic narrative.” Even so, Moore says she would love original star Charlie Hunnam to cameo on the new show: “We would be very open to that.”
Moore has been living in New Orleans the last few months because the series will be based and filmed there. After announcing during the pandemic she was transitioning, she wanted to experience the city as a trans woman. “The reason we’re setting it in New Orleans is because the city has that kind of queer defiance,” Moore says. “I had never really been here until I took the job. I came down to visit early in our writers room and said, ‘I need to move down here because I don’t know what it’s like to be queer here, like I do in L.A. or New York. The queerness here exists in opposition to the conservative, Catholic and Southern surroundings.”
Mena Massoud shocked fans when he revealed during a Daily Beast interview in December 2019 that he wasn’t getting any calls to audition for projects after he co-starred opposite Will Smith in the box office hit “Aladdin.” But he didn’t let that slow him down. Instead, the actor has forged ahead by launching his own production company, Press Play Prods. “We’re trying to pave the way for underrepresented communities, underrepresented voices, and I think we’re making good headway,” says Massoud. “We’re talking to studios, networks and other production companies. What we’re seeing now is the market wants more diverse stories.”
In the new animated movie “Lamya’s Poem,” he voices 13th-century Persian poet Rumi. The film tells the story of a young refugee girl who finds a book of his poetry while fleeing violence and war. “Everything that has happened in Iran and now in Afghanistan, it’s so relevant,” Massoud says. “I think animated films take the edge off. I think it allows for almost a safer place to have conversations or at least to be talked about differently… We can often hear things in the media about what is going on about refugees and we can often lose sight of the essence of humanity. When it comes down to it, we should all lead with love and forgiveness and community.”
He hopes the film rises above politics. “I think it’s important to keep discussing things from the point of view of compassion and love and empathy… If we politicize art, then we are in real trouble,” Massoud says. Other actors, including Riz Ahmed, Dev Patel and Rami Malek have inspired him. “Riz in ‘Nightcrawler’ was a moment for me,” Massoud says. “It’s very refreshing when you see people like that on screen. It gives you hope that there’s a chance for you as well.”
Speaking of which, make sure to check out Variety’s new cover story on Ahmed, written by Matt Donnelly with photos by Paola Kudacki!