Deep Inside Hollywood: “Maestro”, “Run” and “Fireflies”

Sarah Paulson

Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan make music in “Maestro”

The late, legendary American composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein was gay. He was also married to a woman, Felicia Cohn Montealegre, who understood his homosexuality, and chose to be with him. It was the 1950s, and this sort of thing was not uncommon for queer people, and it makes for a fascinating entry point for a drama about the closet. Enter Bradley Cooper, moving on to his next directorial project after “A Star Is Born”, with a new film for Netflix called “Maestro”, in which he’ll star as Bernstein. Joining him on screen as Montealegre will be Carey Mulligan. Cooper’s been working with the Bernstein family for a few years now, developing the project, one that will cover the couple’s more than 30-year relationship. Keeping in mind that nobody likes a wallow in queer misery for the sake of prestige entertainment, we’ll trust Cooper to do right by this important subject matter. Now that the United States is, in general, somewhat less treacherous for many in the LGBTQ+ community, these complex stories from the past become even more vital to keep in our collective memory. The project shoots in spring 2021.

“Run” from horror-mom Sarah Paulson

It’s always the Smother Mother’s fault, isn’t it? That’s what the movies like to tell us, anyway. But as long as the drama is high and the suspense suitably tense, we seem to enjoy watching trapped kids escape whatever hell Mommy has devised for them. And who else to play such a woman than Sarah Paulson, a veteran of multiple “American Horror Story” trips down the path of madness? Well, she’ll be doing it again in “Run,” from filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty (“Searching”), co-written by Chaganty and “Searching” collaborator Sev Ohanian. Co-starring newcomer Kiera Allen as Paulson’s daughter, it’s the story of a young woman raised in total isolation by a mother who controls her every move. Then the cracks begin to develop in Mom’s narrative and it becomes time to do the thing in the title. It’s due to land in select re-opened theaters and Hulu in late November, so you don’t actually have to run anywhere to see it.

“The Extinction of Fireflies” the next step in streaming theater

Want to see a new play? You can’t, we know, all the theaters are closed. But what if, in the manner of “Hamilton” on Disney+, you could stream a new play at home? It’s not the ideal situation, obviously, but is anything ideal right now? The answer to that would be a supersize no, so you’ll want to dig into the opportunity to watch “The Extinction of Fireflies”. It stars Drew Droege (“Bob’s Burgers”, all those amazing “Good evening, America, I’m Chloe Sevigny” videos on YouTube) as a would-be playwright who invites his friends over – played by Tracie Bennett (“Coronation Street”) and “Buyer and Cellar”’s Michael Urie – to read his latest work. The comedy is from James Andrew Walsh, and it’s now in production in Walsh’s own Rhode Island home, where it will be shot and delivered to an as-yet-unspecified streaming platform (ticketing and dates also to be announced). We love this idea, naturally, because it makes inventive use of space not designed for theater. And now we’ve also got fantasies of Urie and playwright Jonathan Tolins reviving “Buyer” in Barbra Streisand’s actual basement. 

But I’m “An American Island Cheerleader”

It’s time for the trans POC rom-com. It’s been time, really, but now one’s actually on the horizon.  From the beautiful minds of Filipinx queer creators Rain Valdez (the Emmy-nominated web series “Razor Tongue”) and Rachel Leyco (“Batman Beyond”) comes “Re-Live: A Tale of An American Island Cheerleader”. The story revolves around a 10-year class reunion where the theme is the “do-over,” the chance to fix that one thing high school didn’t provide. Valdez will star as a successful movie star who goes home for the event to fulfill the unrealized dream of being a high school cheerleader. What she encounters instead is her mother’s worsening cancer diagnosis, a sister (Leyco) in need of some sibling support, and then a little as-yet-undefined romance. Still in development, this is the kind of non-traumatic story about queer people of color that needs Hulu or Netflix to give it the push and production cash it deserves to get in front of audiences. We’ll be waiting and watching.

Romeo San Vicente rejects pumpkin spice latte, but dives face-first into pumpkin pancakes.

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