You can probably chalk this up to the current online “Wordle” craze, but America’s most famous drag queen, RuPaul, is about to crash CBS’s primetime lineup with an updated version of the vintage ’80s series “Lingo.” After multiple iterations of the game show – in which contestants guess five-letter words to fill a bingo-like grid – aired in the United States, and after versions in other countries have kept going strong for decades, CBS is ready to revive it for primetime later in the year. It’s perfect timing, and, as for centering RuPaul as the host, that’s another no-brainer. He is, after the late Alex Trebek and alongside “Price is Right” vet Drew Carey, among America’s most beloved game show hosts. Now, we hope he hosts in drag but we’re guessing he won’t, most likely to insure that this show and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stay in their own lanes. But honestly, it’ll probably be because a properly flawless Ru look takes hours and Mr. Charles is a very busy man.
Gina Rodriguez is ‘On the Verge’
In development right now: Gina Rodriguez in “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” the very first Pedro Almodovar TV series for Apple. The now-legendary queer Spanish filmmaker has scored hit after hit at the arthouse, earned two Academy Awards, and will now branch out into television with this adaptation of his breakout ’80s film, a wild comic farce about actors, terrorists and drugged gazpacho. No word yet on which character Rodriguez (“I Want You Back”) will play, or who else will be attached to co-star, but Almodovar will executive produce, and Noelle Valdivia (“Mozart in the Jungle”) is attached as both screenwriter and showrunner if and when the project moves forward to a full series order. See, that’s what “in development” really means: a lot of crossed fingers. So cross yours and say a prayer to the gods of manic mayhem and maybe we’ll all get lucky.
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown ‘Honk for Jesus’
One of the breakout hits at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was the debut feature from writer-director Adamma Ebo, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” Produced by Daniel Kaluuya and Ebo’s twin sister Adanne Ebo, the comedy is a satirical look — with its narrative roots in real life events — at big money megachurches and what happens when their empires threaten to crumble. Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”) plays the pastor of an anti-gay Southern Baptist megachurch whose own secret sexual life comes to light. As the scandal unfolds, his wife, played by Regina Hall (“Girls Trip”), has to push forward and rebuild or risk losing everything. Focus Features has picked up the film for distribution, probably sometime later this year. While you’re waiting for this comedy of religious hypocrisy to land gently in theaters on the wings of angels, check out the unnerving documentary “Jesus Camp” and its own closeted pastor Ted Haggard. Truth, it still turns out, is always stranger than fiction.
Lee Pace and Amandla Stenberg run screaming with ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’
For those of you late to the A24 scene, they’re the film producers/distributors who have built a reputation with horror films like “The Witch,” “Hereditary” and “Midsommar.” In other words, they deliver creepy arthouse titles that make some scary movie fans question the very definition of the word “horror.” But that all changes, maybe, at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival when “Bodies Bodies Bodies” hits the big screen. From Dutch actor-writer-filmmaker Halina Reijn (“Black Book”) and starring Lee Pace, Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Pete Davidson, it’s about a group of rich 20somethings and a hurricane party where a game turns deadly and the body count grows. In other words, “backstabbing” is promised in more than one sense of the word and A24 is giving us a slasher movie. And because it’s from A24, it’ll most certainly be one with great production values and an ambiguous ending. We can’t wait.
Romeo San Vicente is lobbying for another candy holiday in March.