Get to know: Jillian Armenante
This September sees the release of Contagion, an everyone-in-the-world-is-going-to-die-of-bird-flu-_right-now_ thriller (best line in the trailer: “Someone doesn’t have to weaponize the bird flu. The birds are doing that.”), and it’s got a cast of heavy hitters: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Winter’s Bone Oscar nominee John Hawkes.But none of those people matter right now. Because Jillian Armenante is also in this movie. No, you don’t know her name unless you were an obsessive Judging Amy fan, a series on which she was a regular. But she’s a lesbian character actress, seen most recently in Bad Teacher. And in a world where closeted A-listers still stare interviewers right in the face and lie about who they are, it’s nice to recognize the not-quite-yet-famous out actors who don’t make a big deal about going to work, doing their job and being honest all at the same time. So go see Contagion
Dustin Lance Black’s 8 is coming soon
During the Proposition 8 trial over the legality of marriage equality in California, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (_Milk_) got down to work reading transcript after transcript of the proceedings. The result? A new play titled 8. The finished work consists of dramatized readings, dialogue taken verbatim from court records and Black’s own observations and interviews he conducted with participants on both sides of the issue. The first staged reading will take place Sept. 19 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in New York City and will then be produced at various universities. Broadway would be a nice final landing place, but this alternative approach insures more audiences in more places will really see the play. As Black recently told the New York Times, “One of my hopes about the trial was to get the opposition in court, hands raised swearing to tell the truth, and have the world see the opposition called to account for going on TV saying gay people harm children, harm families… Since the trial itself wasn’t heard or seen, I wanted to get that story out another way.”
Yes, Russell T. Davies’ new show is called Cucumber
He created the original U.K. Queer As Folk (aka “the good version”) and he’s pretty busy right now making sure his BBB/Starz co-production Torchwood: Miracle Day gets the kind of American attention it deserves, so what’s Russell T. Davies got cooking on the back burner? Something called Cucumber. Here’s everything we know: Showtime is interested, which is smart of them because the American QAF was the biggest hit they’ve ever had. And it involves gay men. But that’s not a license for amateurs to go around making bawdy, lowest common denominator jokes involving the title. For all you know it could be a series about homosexual sous chefs. Or gay organic farmers. It might even be another sci-fi show like Torchwood, and Cucumber could be the name of… a gay… spaceship. Oh, all right, let the jokes begin.
Trans drama Gun Hill Road gets real
The coming out movie’s been done to death, that’s a fact on which most vetseran viewers of gay-themed films can agree. But quality films about transgender issues are still a rarity, and quality trans films starring actual trans actors are even more scarce. All the more reason, then, to celebrate the upcoming theatrical release of the moving indie drama Gun Hill Road. Esai Morales (_NYPD Blue_, Caprica) stars as an ex-con who comes home to his Bronx neighborhood to discover that his teenage son is transitioning to female. Dad has some catch-up to play, of course, but the real focus of Gun Hill Road is young trans actress Harmony Santana, who delivers a sensitive, intimate debut performance as the teenager searching for self-expression as well as for the love of her father. Gun Hill Road’s first stop will be arthouse theaters, but look for a DVD release before year’s end.