Dustin Lance Black: Semi-Auto Mormon Miniseries in Works
By Jerry Portwood
Photo by Gavin Bond exclusively for Out
The gay scribe is getting another crack—this time on TV. THR reports that Dustin Lance Black—who won an Oscar for his Milk screenplay, is No. 43 on Out's Power List, and knows how to fill out a tank top—is developing an 8-hour scripted miniseries on ABC, and Laurence Mark of Jerry Maguire fame will executive produce.
The untitled drama will be based on and told from Black's background and experiences as a gay-rights activist. Don't forget that Black was also essential in many of the scripts and development of HBO's Big Love, about a polygamist sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He also wrot the screenplay for the underwhelming J. Edgar, starring Leo DiCaprio as the closeted creator of the FBI.
More recently, he's teaming with J.J. Abrams on an untitled earthquake feature and is adapting Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer's book about a double murder within the Mormon church. The last time he dipped into the semi-autobiographical filmmaking was with his personal tale of growing up as a Mormon in the South titled Virginia, which he also directed and premiered last year, starring Jennifer Connolly. At the time, he explained the creative process as being "like my old-self is warring with my new-self," and went on to explain that:
"We were incredibly poor because it was a single parent, and my single parent was paralyzed by polio. So it was a lot of heavy weight lifting for us as kids. We grew up very fast. There's a lot of stories that get incredibly dark of how we survived. I would tell all these stories, and people would look at me, like, "Wow, I'm so sorry." Pure pity... [But] I would say, 'You don't understand Southerners at all: that is our badge of honor. We're not defined by our troubles; we're defined by our dreams. We're defined by how we see ourselves.' And it does change in direct relation to how rich or poor, troubled or not-troubled you are, then the more outlandish your dreams become. And sometimes the more delusional the vision of yourself becomes. It's a survival mechanism. But in the South, it is celebrated. Just ask Tennessee Williams."
This is the second announcement that ABC is bravely going into controversial, gay terrain. The Disney-owned network is also developing a miniseries based on the award-winning documentary, How to Survive a Plague, with its director, David France.