Celebrity Watch

Collette and Eckhart sign on for Ball



Given that gay writer Alan Ball’s first produced screenplay, “American Beauty,” took home a whole bushel of Oscars (including one for Ball himself), it’s no wonder that the “Six Feet Under” creator’s feature-film directorial debut is garnering interest from some major Hollywood players.

It’s been previously reported that Ball will make his first stab at big-screen directing with “Towelhead,” about a Lebanese-American teen girl growing up in Texas during the first Gulf War. But now, three of Hollywood’s hottest talents have joined the project.

The ever-busy Toni Collette, hunky Aaron Eckhart (“Thank You for Smoking”) and Maria Bello (who should have snagged an Oscar nomination for “A History of Violence”) will all appear in the film, which is slated to start shooting in mid-September.

Look for it in theaters sometime in 2007.

Lesbian gun for hire

There just aren’t enough lesbian assassins in film, so newcomer writer-director Donna Robinson’s upcoming “The Adventures of Beatle Boyin,” the story of a lesbian tow-truck driver and hitman-in-training (or should that be “hitperson”?) who falls in love with a suicidal woman, is eager to fill that gap.

Michele Hicks (“Heist,” “The Shield”) stars as Beatle, and the eclectic supporting cast includes “Monk” star Tony Shalhoub and his wife, actress and filmmaker Brooke Adams; Ever Carradine from “Commander in Chief” and “The L Word” hottie Sarah Shahi, last seen with her heart in a million pieces when she got dumped at the altar in the sapphic Showtime soap’s season finale.

Be on the lookout for “Beatle,” probably at queer film festivals, sometime soon.

Alan Cumming revives “‘Bent’

“Bent,” gay playwright Martin Sherman’s tale of queers and concentration camps, was the talk of Broadway when it opened in 1980, and not just because of Richard Gere’s nude scene.

The play spawned a movie version (still airing with some frequency on Logo), and is now getting a full-scale revival in London’s West End, with bisexual actor, author, director and fragrance magnate Alan Cumming in the lead role.

Chris New, a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, plays Cumming’s lover, and the production features a song with lyrics by Sherman and music by Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe.

The powerful drama which, sadly, remains all too relevant in these politically repressive times begins previews in London on Sept. 22, with an official opening Oct. 5.

Debra Messing wed to “‘Starter Wife’

After spending eight years as America’s favorite fag hag sorry, “fairy princess” on “Will & Grace,” Debra Messing still can’t keep a man. … on television, that is.

She’s been signed to play the title role in the upcoming USA Network miniseries “The Starter Wife,” based on Gigi Levangie Grazer’s comic novel about a divorcee looking to redefine her life after being jettisoned from her marriage to a Hollywood studio head.

(In an ironic bit of life imitating art, Levangie Grazer separated from her own Hollywood mogul husband, Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer, not long after the book was published.)

With perfect show business logic, this L.A. story will begin shooting at the end of the year in Australia.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 18, 2006.

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