As supporters of California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative picketed last night's San Francisco premiere of Milk, producers of the film fired back at allegations that Focus Features is hiding their spiritual follow-up to Brokeback Mountain because it's too gay to promote during an election season. In a letter to The Hollywood Reporter, Focus chief James Schamus slams the report, citing the film's "most explosively received and appreciated trailer in the history of our company" along with a litany of gay tie-ins.As you'll recall, Steven Zeitchik slammed Focus' marketing approach yesterday, resulting in an angry letter from Schamus, who first cites the film's production schedule as the reason for the delay, and then tries to counter Zeitchik's criticism of the studio's gun-shy approach:
Despite a star-studded cast and a high profile director, Focus Features' new biopic about the first openly gay pol in California history isn't getting any push from the studio before its Dec. 8 release. Focus' last spectacularly gay-friendly film, Brokeback Mountain was a major winner, so call the development puzzling. Focus execs are spinning that they want the film to gain word-of-mouth slowly, but Occam's razor gives us a better explanation: Milk just isn't very good.In light of the political climate surrounding California's Proposition 8, Focus higher-ups have avoided pushing Milk. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film is "eschewing publicity, keeping its awards contender out of fall fests and heavily restricting media screenings."
You'll hardly recognize a scrawny Sean Penn in full facial hair and denim as gunned-down gay city supervisor Harvey Milk. Also caught in this fan footage: Emile Hirsch as gay activist Cleve Jones, and San Francisco's Castro Street as its former self, before the Straighty McStraights bought everything.
· Ang Lee takes home the Golden Lion for Lust, Caution at the Venice Film fest, the movie you may remember as the recent victim of the MPAA's dreaded NC-17 rating because of its "graphic, artsy-fartsy depiction of fucking." [Variety]
· Gus Van Sant attaches Sean Penn and Matt Damon to his long-in-development biopic of openly gay politician Harvey Milk, with Penn playing Milk and Damon taking the role of his suddenly likable assassin. Tomorrow, competing Milk project director Bryan Singer will escalate the casting arms race by announcing he's got Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt "this close" to signing on to his Mayor of Castro Street adaptation. [THR]
· The Creative Arts Emmys are topped by—surprise!—HBO, with 15 statues. [Variety]
· NBC destroys its Sunday night Nielsen competition with the season debut of Sunday Night Football. [THR]
· In other unsurprising, awards-related news, Gil Cates will be back to produce the Oscars a record-breaking 14th time, which he promises "will be just as overlong and filled with inscrutable interpretive-dance numbers as my 2006 triumph." [Variety]