Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA recently. In addition to moving into a new apartment, I got hit with that darned flu. Now I’m back and ready for the holidays. But before we say goodbye to 2022, here’s one more column for you.
The two teamed up recently for the Disney+ series “Limitless With Chris Hemsworth,” which Aronofsky created. The show features the “Thor” star doing extreme physical challenges to understand the aging process. “I love him and I think he loves me,” Aronofsky tells me, laughing. “I think he’s a great human being and a gentleman and a great parent. He’s really an inspiration to me. And so I would love to work with him again. We’re trying to find the right piece.”
No, Aronofsky insists he’s not looking to take on an installment of “Thor.”
In October, “The Whale” director revealed to Variety that in the early aughts, he pitched an R-rated Batman origin story, but the studio wouldn’t go for it. He was also signed to make a Wolverine film in Japan, but it didn’t happen due to delays caused by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
If you haven’t watched “We’re Here,” please do. The HBO show, which is in its third season, is what we need right now. If you’re unfamiliar, ”RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara travel to small towns across the U.S. to give drag makeovers to locals before putting on a one-night-only show. The season finale is two episodes, airing Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. It takes place in central Florida and features the mom of a tween transgender girl, a semi-closeted man living in a retirement community, a 75-year-old trans woman and her wife and a survivor of the Pulse massacre.
I will not spoil with too many details, but the finale shows us the power of visibility. As the cameras pan across the audience at the drag show, you can see hearts and minds changing as these brave “drag daughters” revel in their truths. I truly believe “We’re Here” saves lives.
As conservatives rally against drag queen reading time with children, the series, created by Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram, proves just how ridiculous and desperate the radical right is to demonize the LGBTQ community.
“This is the time to be out and proud,” Eureka says in voiceover in the finale’s first episode. “Because if we hide, we die.”
The big question now is if “We’re Here” will be renewed. As we know, Warner Bros. Discovery is drastically slashing budgets and programming across its portfolio. So I’m asking all of you to please hop on the “We’re Here” bandwagon. Let’s boost the ratings to show David Zaslav that it’s not only OK to say gay but it makes for good business.
Noah Centineo grabbed our hearts with his work on “The Fosters” and the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” rom-com trilogy, co-starred alongside The Rock in “Black Adam” and now stars in Netflix’s “The Recruit.” But even he has his bouts of self-doubt. “Sometimes you just don’t feel cool, and I think even despite whatever success you might be in the middle of, or working towards, or removed from and outside of from the past, you are always going to have those moments where you are going to feel like an impostor,” Centineo said at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Recruit.” “Sometimes you are going to feel a little bit insecure, and I feel like it is very hard to evade that. And just letting that drive you forward will keep you very present and in the moment. You can turn it into something positive.”
SIGHTING: “The Santa Clauses” stars Kal Penn, Matilda Lawler and Austin Kane checking out the “Santa Clauses Winter Wonderland” installation at New York City’s Watermark restaurant.
I caught up with my friend Justin Tranter at Variety’s Hitmakers Brunch earlier this month. The mega music maker has worked with Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy and John Legend, among others. Who is still on Tranter’s wish list? “Me and Lil Nas X did a Zoom early on in the pandemic, and his Wi-Fi was all fucked up so we had to stop,” he told me. “I really want to get in person with Lil Nas. That would be a dream.”
Tranter added, “Stevie Nicks is always a dream.”
What about a Lil Nas and Nicks collaboration? Tranter smiled, “That would be amazing!”
Bill Nighy may be getting awards buzz for his work as a man in 1953 facing a fatal illness in the drama “Living,” but the British actor garnered some laughs during his recent talk at 92NY. “My area of interest is paranoia, uptight neurosis, difficulty with women, sexually repressed — that’s the shit I know about,” he deadpanned to “Reel Pieces” moderator Annette Insdorf. When asked by an audience member for advice to young people for having a fulfilling life, Nye quipped, “The trouble with getting to be my age is that people start to mistake you for someone who might know what’s happening. … I was hoping you were asking me about advice for young actors, only because I only ever say one thing: ‘Don’t take drugs and pay your taxes.’” Then he added, “Dress nice.”
Christmas came early for Matt Rogers.
Earlier this month, the “Fire Island” star joked with me on the “Just for Variety” podcast that he was hoping to get an endorsement deal with Gun Oil lube after mentioning the adult product in his Showtime special, “Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?”
Turns out, executives from Empowered Products, Gun Oil’s San Diego-based parent company, were listening. Not only were CEO and founder Scott Fraser and advertising and marketing head Tre Johnson at Rogers’ Dec. 17 show in Los Angeles, but they brought him a box full of naughty goodies. ”When someone supports us, we want to support them,” Johnson tells me.