By Romeo San Vicente
Netflix picks up trans activist Marsha P. Johnson’s story
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, the most recent project from acclaimed documentary filmmaker David France (Academy Award-nominated for How To Survive a Plague) will be getting a global platform with Netflix. The streaming service has picked up the film, where it will debut for audiences later in the year. Johnson was a trans woman and self-described “street queen” of New York’s gay population in the late 1960s. Alongside Sylvia Rivera, she co-founded STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries), the first trans activist organization. Her death by apparent homicide in 1992 was ignored by law enforcement, and France’s film (for which the director worked alongside transgender consultants) follows investigators working to piece together information about the crime, as well as providing an overview of Johnson and Rivera’s groundbreaking work on behalf of gender-nonconforming people and trans people of color, who remain disproportionately targeted for violence during the Trump era. Death and Life recently screened at New York’s Tribeca Festival and Los Angeles’ Outfest, is a moving tribute to this important figure in LGBT history, and we can’t wait to add it to our streaming queue.
Harvey Fierstein revives Torch Song
Tony and Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl is heading back to the stage to co-star with Michael Urie in the revival of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, now to be known as simply Torch Song. Urie will step into the lead role that earned playwright and original star Fierstein a Tony Award, that of drag performer Arnold Beckoff, a man looking for love in 1970s New York City. Ruehl will play Arnold’s unsupportive mother, a part taken by Anne Bancroft in the 1988 film version. Moises Kaufman (The Laramie Project) will direct the production, which will open at Second Stage, off-Broadway, this fall. This is great news for fans of Ruehl, whose relatively low profile after winning an Academy Award has always felt unjust. It’s also great timing for a revival of this play in particular, a chance for younger audiences to get a taste of vintage, post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS gay life, when the struggle for civil rights was kicking into high gear. It wasn’t all poppers and seeing Bette Midler at the Continental Baths, you know.
J.J. Totah has Magic to do
We tend to fret over the wellbeing of child actors, but there’s a kid out there named J.J. Totah who we don’t worry about at all. He sings, he dances, he does stand-up, but mostly he plays lots of gay child roles (and/or exacting and competitive children who read as gay) and he does so hilariously and with a commanding presence. From Glee to Jessie to his breakout role in last year’s acclaimed indie comedy Other People, he makes audiences pay attention and say, “Wait, who is this kid?” He’s currently stealing a little moment in Spider-Man: Homecoming that we won’t spoil here, but if you’re ready to follow the 15-year-old’s growing career, he’ll soon be seen in the comedy Magic Camp. From director Mark Waters (Mean Girls), the movie follows a struggling magician (Adam Devine) trying to rehab his career with a magic camp for kids. Totah will be the kid with the take-charge personality and – we’re fairly confident in saying this – the sassy dialogue. You might not even know what he looks like yet, but you won’t miss him when the film hits theaters next spring.
Dear White People, the sophomore year
If only you were following Justin Simien on Instagram like we do, you’d know this already, but Netflix just announced some very good news for fans of Simien’s hilarious sitcom, Dear White People: a second season is on the way. All the stars from season one seem to be returning, with Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori, Ashley Blaine Featherson and Marque Richardson all coming back for the 10-episode run. And if you haven’t started watching yet, what are you waiting for? It’s a wildly inventive show set among the black students at a predominantly white Ivy League university, one where racial friction sets the stage for a brilliant ensemble cast to explore love, sexual identity and the inevitable political realities of being a person of color in a white world. You’ve got a little time – the new episodes will air in 2018 – so fit it into your binge TV schedule.
Romeo San Vicente binges on Ina Garten cooking shows and then orders in.