First off, I just want to commend Michael Fleming for kicking off his Variety article concerning the below with "Got Milk?". Goddamn, he’s good.
If you’ve been following the career of Bryan Singer, you’ll know that the comic book adapting filmmaker has long been circling The Mayor of Castro Street, a project based on Randy Shilts biography of the openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, along with then Mayor George Moscone, by ousted supervisor Dan White. For many years, it seemed as though Castro Street was merely a bargaining chip Singer used in between superhero movies (he also flirted with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind for a time until that actually got made), but now it sounds like Warner Independent and Participant Productions is ready to get the film up and going… as soon as Singer finishes Valkyrie for Tom Cruise and United Artists.
Singer may want to get a move on, because Gus Van Sant just jumped into the Harvey Milk contest – or "back into" since he was attached to Castro Street years ago – with an untitled screenplay from Dustin Lance Black, and, near as I can tell, he doesn’t have a Tom Cruise movie to make once he’s done editing his latest picture, Paranoid Park (which, by the way, sounds fairly promising). Though the Van Sant/Black project isn’t set up at a production company yet, it shouldn’t take more than a few months or so to get deals in place (i.e. provided the script is good and Van Sant isn’t looking to cast huge names). This could be disastrous for Singer and Castro Street, especially if Van Sant nails his take on the material; it’s unlikely that there’s a market for two Milk biopics.
It is, however, possible that Van Sant might make another massively uncommercial homage to Bela Tarr, which would ease Singer’s anxiety considerably. Van Sant hasn’t played the studio game since Finding Forrester, and he’s become a much more interesting director as a result; meanwhile, Singer is guaranteed to deliver an exceedingly straightforward take on Milk. So this might not be a Capote/Infamous scenario as Variety suggests; these two projects could coexist. As a fan of both filmmakers, I certainly hope so.