Over the weekend, the LA Times‘ Patrick Goldstein reported on how the non-Gus Van Sant film about Harvey Milk, “The Mayor of Castro Street,” is pretty much dead after a 16-year struggle to get made.
“The history of this movie really mirrors the consciousness-raising that Hollywood went through over the last 15 or 20 years,” says director Rob Cohen, another filmmaker once attached to the project. “In the early 1990s, you couldn’t get a major Hollywood star to play a gay man, even an almost Jesus-style hero. But that’s what made the story so compelling. Harvey Milk was an unlikely political leader, but he symbolized an era where social movements were changing our country.”
Oliver Stone was also once attached to direct, Robin Williams was in line to play Milk and Craig Lucas worked on a script, but the film never came together, and Van Sant’s completed “Milk,” which stars Sean Penn as the assassinated activist and city official, will have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown recounts another tale of rival biopics, one, like “Castro Street,” not yet in production. This time the players are Wong Kar-wai and Wilson Yip and their subject is Yip Man, best known as Bruce Lee’s teacher. WKW’s film, which was announced ages and supposed to star Tony Leung, has, like many proposed WKW films, lingered in limbo, but Wilson Yip’s is actually shooting, stars Donnie Yen and, to add insult to injury, has the title WKW intended to use, “Grandmaster Yip Man”:
Yip Chun, Yip Man’s son, went on the record about the movie, and one of his students went on the record trashing Tony Leung and Wong Kar-wai. Yip Chun was pretty mild-mannered about things, saying that he’d never met Tony Leung except for 5 minutes and so he’d never helped train him. He also said that Tony is a good actor but that Donnie Yen trained super hard for the role. His student then said that Wong Kar-wai was going to delay his Yip Man movie forever (until 2046, at least) and that Tony Leung didn’t deserve to play Yip Man because he didn’t know kung fu.
On that note, whatever happened to “The Lady From Shanghai”?
[Photo: Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” Focus Features, 2008]