by Romeo San Vicente | photo courtesy KathClick
Billy Eichner developing Paul Lynde biopic “Man in the Box”
Queer and square at the same time is a good way to describe the legendary Paul Lynde, the comic actor who worked in film and TV for decades, but is most well-known for occupying the center square box of the long-running game show “Hollywood Squares.” And for the upcoming biopic “Man in the Box,” the title takes on a second meaning, because Lynde was, if not fully closeted, also not fully out in any contemporary understanding of the word. He existed as he was on camera, a not-masculine man in a pre-Stonewall culture (the word was “flamboyant” back then) whose job was to make America laugh. But he was also never allowed to speak about who he was. It was a peculiar and terrible bind placed on performers of that era, one that will be explored when Billy Eichner takes on the role. Eichner is producing the film, and developing a script from Edwin Cannistraci, which will explore the complexities and isolation of a Hollywood life lived somewhere between the closet and career-ending honesty. It seems like a no-brainer that Eichner should be the person who handles this story, and we can’t wait to see the final product.
Scotty Bowers lives again thanks to Seth Rogen and Luca Guadagnino
The late Scotty Bowers was a bisexual man who could only exist in Hollywood in the golden age of studios controlling actors’ lives. Back in post-WW2 Los Angeles, Bowers operated a combination gas station/brothel, serving the needs of closeted actors and actresses with an array of helpful employees. His late-in-life tell-all book, “Full Service,” inspired the documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood,” and his life was the basis for a character in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries “Hollywood.” That means it’s time for another take on the story, this time from queer filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”) and the screenwriting team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It’s early yet, so there’s no cast, and no delivery date that we know of, but re-orienting Hollywood history to accommodate the truths that actors were denied the chance to live openly back in the day? That’s always welcome, whenever they get around to sharing it with the world.
“Transparent” star Trace Lysette producing “Trans in Trumpland”
The current anti-queer presidential administration has made no secret of its particular animosity toward the trans community and has done everything it can to make their lives impossible. Bizarrely, while enacting every sort of roadblock they can to transgender citizens living lives with dignity, their leader continues to deny that it’s happening. So it’s vital and relevant that transgender actress Trace Lysette (“Transparent”) is currently executive producing “Trans in Trumpland.” The four-part documentary series to be directed by trans filmmaker Tony Zosherafatain will follow four trans people fighting back against the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle equal rights protections. The series, co-produced by longtime trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, will take a road trip style journey through Idaho, Texas, North Carolina and Mississippi, where individual trans citizens are working to survive, thrive and make a difference. Completed in 2019, the series is currently looking for a broadcast home.
“Pose” co-creator Steven Canals has “81 Words” for the world
Until the year 1974, the American medical establishment officially considered queer people to be mentally ill. This injustice was changed after activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings risked their careers, alongside a group of closeted psychiatrists, to challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s official stance on the matter. Now, thanks to FX, which recently gave audiences “Mrs. America,” that story is getting its own miniseries. “Pose” co-creator Steven Canals is developing the project and will write the script based on Alix Spiegel’s award-winning “This American Life” episode about the subject. That this counts as relatively recent queer history, a fairly grim facet of our lives that many LGBTQ people might not even know about, is proof enough that the stories need to keep being told. Like they’d say on “Pose” — “Teach the Children!”
Romeo San Vicente is currently at the beach, masked, with a 6-foot sand castle barrier separating him from admirers.