Deep Inside Hollywood: Stephen Sondheim, Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Kline, Gay & the Anti-Gay

Jonathan Groff
Jonathan Groff  Photo:

Jonathan Groff

By: Romeo San Vicente*/Special to TRT—

Into The Woods casting gets ensemble-ier

Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods is a big show with a lot of characters. And the film adaptation of this dark, musical fairy tale (to be directed by Chicago’s Rob Marshall), a story full of adult themes of loss, loneliness and courage, well, it needs more and more actors to flesh it out. We’ve already told you about the heavy hitters – Streep and Depp – taking the first roles as Witch and Wolf, respectively. And now negotiations roll on for Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jake Gyllenhaal, soon to be cast as the two princes. Meanwhile, you can add Emily Blunt to those talks, as she looks to be the choice to play the wife of the Baker (Jams Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors). At this rate this movie’s going to have more people singing at the same time than Les Miserables , and this is only the beginning. It could, conceivably, wind up employing every living actor who can carry one of Sondheim’s notoriously difficult-to-sing tunes. More details as they unfold…

Scarlett Johansson steps behind the camera

She knows where she’s going, that Scarlett Johansson. Knowing that acting career longevity for almost any actress not named Meryl Streep is a finite quantity, the  Avengers star is diversifying her career opportunities by stepping into the role of feature film director for the very first time. Johansson will helm an adaptation of Truman Capote’s first novel, Summer Crossing, a work that was thought to have been lost for more than 50 years and only recently published for the very first time thanks to Capote’s former editor. The story involves a 17 year-old girl who spends the summer alone in New York when her parents leave for Paris; she then falls for a parking attendant (the perfect way to get back at Mom and Dad). And in case you think this is just the whim of a dilettante movie star, you should also know that Johansson’s been preparing for this moment alongside the Capote estate for years now, working with screenwriter Tristine Skylar on the adaptation and directing a short film, These Vagabond Shoes, starring Kevin Bacon, in the interim. Meanwhile, film history is on her side: nothing she does will be as poorly received as comic actress Nancy Walker’s first and last film as a director: The Village People’s Can’t Stop The Music.

Kevin Kline’s downward slide to The Last of Robin Hood

The legacy of Errol Flynn is a mix of glory and shame. Film history is kind to him, remembering the star at his best as one of Hollywood’s most famous and handsome leading men of the 1930s and ’40s in classics like The Adventures of Robin Hood. But his later life – he died at 50 of a heart attack – turned dark with career trouble, substance abuse and sexual scandals (one biographer even erroneously reported that he’d been a Nazi). And it’s this troubled time that informs the new movie from gay directing team Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (Quinceanera), The Last of Robin Hood. Kevin Kline will star as the faded Flynn as he embarks on a Lolita-style relationship with a 15-year-old girl named Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), one set up by the girl’s mother (to be played Susan Sarandon). Not the most wholesome of storylines, to be sure, not to mention one that didn’t end well for anyone, but sadly fascinating all the same and in reputable hands thanks to Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler’s Killer Films. The project is currently in production and should be ready to cause feelings of despair at this fall’s film festivals.

Casting call: the gay and the anti-Gay

We reported earlier about the in-development HBO “gay friends” sitcom/dramedy from filmmaker Andrew Haigh (Weekend) and Michael Lannon (assistant director of Interior. Leather Bar, as well as I Want Your Love). Well, now it’s got a series order and a cast: Jonathan Groff (Glee), Murray Bartlett (Guiding Light) and Frankie J. Alvarez (a newcomer whose only prior credit is as “Actor # 6” on Smash) will play a few of the gay San Francisco friends, with more to come as the production gains traction. And in the other corner, Uma Thurman will step into the orange juice-and-religious-intolerance-filled role of Anita Bryant in an upcoming biopic, the one from filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman that chronicles the rise and fall of the former beauty queen, recording artist and O.J. pitchwoman as she stormed through the 1970s as an anti-gay activist, making enemies of queer people from coast to coast and destroying her career in the process. It’s a film we’re fairly certain isn’t being created with the still-living anti-gay icon’s blessing. But that’s history, isn’t it? You never know how it’s going to judge you when you decide to make it. Go Uma!

*Romeo San Vicente prefers a Gwyneth Paltrow-endorsed kale smoothie to orange juice. He can be reached care of this publication or at

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