Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black Team Up for Miniseries on S.F. LGBT History

Remember how, in the bittersweet post-Obama-and-Prop.-8 days of late 2008, the Castro Theater essentially shut down for a month to screen nothing but Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic, Milk? Everything was put on hold, from Sound of Music sing-alongs to restorations of Hitchcock noirs, because San Francisco was drinking deep from its own well of LGBT history. (That much of Milk was shot on location right outside the theater surely played a role.)

[jump] Somewhat lost in the kerfuffle that is the run-up to Xmas was the news that Gus Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have teamed up again to write an eight-part miniseries for ABC about the queer history of San Francisco, When We Rise. Considering that the whitewashed, bowdlerized Stonewall was as big of a flop as the come — a critically reviled movie with a 9 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, which earned less than $200,000 at the box office on a $13.5 million budget, and whose vocal protesters were runners-up in The Advocate's 2015 Person of the Year — there is surely breathing room for another take on this chapter of American history.

Black, who won a Best Screenplay Oscar for Milk (and who went on to write the screenplay for J. Edgar, too) is a solid choice, and while ABC is tight-lipped about the details of the project, it might revive what was once a cornerstone of the network's programming, the high-production-value miniseries. Once the coda to HBO's one-season Looking airs, the ground will be fresh again. I expect the casting calls, slightly stereotype-reinforcing though they will probably be, to be the hot ticket of the '16 social season.

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