Jennifer Coolidge had a very good 2021. She was simultaneously sympathetic and villainous in “The White Lotus,” disgruntled and bitter in the under-appreciated indie “Swan Song” with Udo Kier. And in Netflix’s “Single All the Way,” she was the comedy MVP of a queer Christmas rom-com, shouting at children in a holiday pageant called “Jesus H. Christ,” and delivering an already immortal bit of dialogue: “[The gays] are always obsessed with me.”
She’s right. We are. And we’re trying to be patient with the development process of her upcoming project, “Legally Blonde 3,” where she’ll revive the role of Paulette. In a recent interview, Reese Witherspoon deflected in the direction of screenwriter Mindy Kaling as the real person to ask the big “WHEN” question, meaning that Kaling is hard at work making a script happen and everybody relax. (We’ll try.) In the meantime look for Coolidge in 2022 in queer director Christopher Landon’s comedy, “We Have a Ghost” with David Harbour, Anthony Mackie and Tig Notaro.
Laverne Cox joins the cast of ‘Uglies’
At 16 you are forced to get cosmetic surgery to conform to an ideal beauty standard; no average looking people allowed in this pretty dystopia. That’s the “Logan’s Run”-esque premise of “Uglies,” a futuristic nightmare of sexiness in which you’re not exterminated at 30, you’re simply never allowed to look older than that. Based on Scott Westerfeld’s bestselling novel, the film adaptation — to be directed by McG, who’ll make it all look sleek and shiny, no doubt — is currently collecting good-looking actors. Joey King (“The Kissing Booth”) leads the cast in the role of Tally Youngblood (seriously, the best character name) and will be joined by Keith Powers (“What/If”), Brianne Tju, (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and Chase Stokes (“Outer Banks”). But it’s the addition of Laverne Cox that has us most excited. No word on who she plays, but we’re hoping she’s a grand villain, someone gorgeous and diabolical. It’ll drop on Netflix when it’s all said and done, so keep your subscription current.
Helena Bonham Carter goes UK soap opera diva for Russell T. Davies
“Queer as Folk” and “It’s a Sin” creator Russell T. Davies is diving deep down the queer British nostalgia well for his next project. It’s called “Nolly” and stars Helena Bonham Carter as wildly popular British soap star Noele Gordon, who appeared for over 20 years on the series “Crossroads.” Here’s where American audiences need a quick history lesson: Gordon was beloved. In fact she was too beloved for network executives, who wanted to fire her and cancel the show that they deemed old-fashioned, in spite of its ongoing success. “Sacked” they call it over there, and sack her they did, much to the dismay of Gordon and her fans. But Gordon persisted and thrived, having the last laugh. It’s going to be wonderful to see a legendary character actor like Helena Bonham Carter portray a different sort of legend. And if we miss some of the finer points, we’ll just text our British gays and have them fill in the blanks.
Kal Penn’s ‘Belated’ coming out project
Weeks after going public with the news that he’s been in a queer relationship for about 11 years, “Harold and Kumar” star Kal Penn is already at work on a comedy pilot for FX, and it’s about a man who comes out as gay in his 40s. The project is called “Belated,” created by Peter Tolan (creator of “Rescue Me,” who himself came out later in life) and starring Penn as a doctor who enters his 40s and realizes he’s queer. The series will revolve around his attempts to co-parent with his ex-wife while navigating his new gay life. For a very long time, coming out stories have been dominated by the experiences of young white gay men, so for a sitcom centering a middle-aged person of color to get a shot is a good sign. More wide-ranging approaches to storytelling mean more queer people get to see their lives represented in film and television. For this we’re grateful to Penn’s willingness to speak about his life. Fingers crossed for a series order!
Call Regina King ‘Shirley’
Academy Award winner Regina King is the latest actor to take up the role of legendary Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for president, and whose career prioritized advocating tirelessly for the poor, for working class people, for people of color, for women, and for the LGBTQ+ community. She was a forthright ally when it was often political suicide to be one. If you watched the limited series “Mrs. America,” you saw Uzo Aduba deliver an indelible performance as Chisholm, and you might remember a news item from a few years ago that announced Viola Davis taking on the part herself. Fast forward to 2021, with two separate films about Chisholm in the works at the same time. The Viola Davis project, still in development as “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm,” has passed to Danai Gurira (“Black Panther”). And now “Shirley,” from writer-director John Ridley, will star King and a cast that includes Lance Reddick (“John Wick”), Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”), André Holland (“Passing”) and Terrence Howard (“Empire”). Look, they made two movies about Truman Capote and the Lambada dance, so we’ll take two Shirleys any day.
‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ comes again
Emma Corrin, breakout star of “The Crown” where she wowed audiences as Princess Diana, who also identifies as queer, will take on the role of Lady Constance Chatterly — the well-born woman who risks it all to have an affair with the gamekeeper — in a new adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s legendarily scandalous novel “Lady Chatterly’s Lover.” This iteration, already in production for Netflix in the UK, is directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (“The Mustang”) and stars fellow queer actor Ella Hunt (“Anna and the Apocalypse”) as well as Jack O’Connell (“Godless”) and Matthew Duckett (“A Confession”). There have been some pretty racy film versions of this story over the years — the novel more or less established “torrid” as a contemporary genre — but with a woman in the director’s chair we’re hoping for a fresh take on that. Ideally what we’re looking for here is some meaningfully horny and cinematic golden-age feminist television. And we’ll wait until 2022 to get it.
The ‘BROS’ cast just keeps growing
They weren’t kidding. The upcoming gay romantic comedy “BROS” starring Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane made noise a couple months ago about casting LOTS of queer actors in all roles. And they’ve made good on that. Joining a supporting cast that already includes “Scandal” star Guillermo Diaz, Symone from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Ts Madison (“Zola”), Miss Lawrence (“Star”) and stand-up comic Guy Branum (“Q-Force”), the call sheet has fully expanded with news of queer actors Monica Raymund (“Chicago Fire”), Peter Kim (“The 40 Year-Old Version”) and Benito Skinner (the upcoming “Queer as Folk” reboot) on board alongside “SNL” star Bowen Yang, trans actors Becca Blackwell (“Sort Of”) and Eve Lindley (“Dispatches from Elsewhere”), “Glee” star Dot Marie Jones, Oscar-winning screenwriter/actor Jim Rash (“American Housewife”), legendary lesbian Amanda Bearse (“Married with Children”) and the queerest elder queer of all time, Harvey Fierstein. That’s how you do some representation and why isn’t this movie already in front of our eyes?
Romeo San Vicente has once again asked Santa Baby for a deed to a platinum mine.