Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (fun fact: she was the first actor in history to win an Academy Award for portraying another Academy Award winner, Katherine Hepburn) will star in Pedro Almodovar’s first English-language feature, “A Manual for Cleaning Women.” The film will adapt Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories of the same name. The project is in the early stages of development, so Blanchett is the only casting news so far. But consider this: “Manual” features over 40 stories of women involved in an extensive variety of jobs. And Almodovar is legendary for his expansive all-woman casts. If he decides to incorporate even a fraction of the book’s stories into one script, this is going to be a who’s who of amazing actresses. More to come on this one as the roll call unfurls.
Wanuri Kahiu is a lesbian director to watch. The rising star, born in Kenya, whose indie romance “Rafiki” was a hit at queer film festivals all over the world, has a Hollywood debut coming soon. It’s called “Plus/Minus,” with a first-time script from April Prosser (“Southland”), and it stars Luke Wilson, Nia Long, and queer “Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart. The story involves a young woman named Natalie, who, as she is about to graduate college, finds herself thrown into parallel realities. In one life course, she becomes pregnant and chooses motherhood and smalltown Texas life. On the other, she moves to Los Angeles and pursues a career. We’re big “Sliding Doors” fans here (who isn’t?) and this feels like it might be the update we’ve been craving. And while we don’t know if the character of Natalie is written as queer, it would kind of be icing on the cake.
A biopic of Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn is in development at Apple, starring Rooney Mara, with“Call Me by Your Name” filmmaker Luca Guadagnino directing a script from “The Giver” co-screenwriter Michael Mitnick. Plot details are unknown right now, so it’s yet to be seen if the project will take the direct chronology approach, or distill Hepburn’s essence in a more specific and limited time frame from her life and career. And what a life and career to mine. She won the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy, and the Tony for work in classic films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Charade,” and “Sabrina,” and she spent her free time devoted to humanitarian work with UNICEF. Mara, meanwhile, not only looks the part but has been nominated for an Oscar twice herself. She’ll do the role justice and look great in all that Givenchy. We’re ready.
The late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, the groundbreaking Black, lesbian Hugo Award winner, and MacArthur Fellow is about to become part of the lineup on FX. Butler’s 1979 novel, “Kindred,” has been ordered to series by the network. Adapted and written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (“Watchmen”), the eight-episode arc will follow a young Black woman and aspiring writer (played by newcomer Mallori Johnson) who discovers secrets about her family’s past when she time travels between the present and a 19th-century plantation. It’s there she learns the truth about where she came from and who her family is. The cast includes Micah Stock (“The Right Stuff”), Gayle Rankin (“GLOW”), Austin Smith (“Random Acts of Flyness”), Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (“Godfather of Harlem”), and Ryan Kwanten (“The Oath”). Butler’s body of work is extensive, so the well is deep here, and if this series hits with audiences, there’s so much more to be explored on screen.