Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Queer Disney fans raised a rainbow flag in 2017 when it was revealed that in the Bill Condon-directed live-action adaptation of the animated hit “Beauty and the Beast,” LeFou — played by Josh Gad — was gay. Now the big question is, will LeFou be gay in the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” Disney Plus series? That project revolves around the friendship between LeFou and Gaston (Luke Evans). More specifically, because it’s a prequel, will a storyline include LeFou’s coming-out journey?
“You’re going to have to tune in when this show airs to see what we’re working up, but in the process of working on it, we’re asking ourselves every relevant question about these characters and endeavoring to do right by them and by this world,” Gad says on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “I think that we have origin stories here that are unbelievably exciting because they’re unexpected. And I think ‘expect the unexpected’ is all I can really say. And not just with regard to LeFou and Gaston but to a lot of the new characters that we’re introducing.”
Gad cracked that he has to get fit before playing LeFou again after seeing Evans’ thirst-trap photos on Instagram: “It requires me to get in the gym fairly soon because I’ve seen pictures of my co-star online. And let’s just say it ain’t great what I’m working with in terms of the most shredded man in show business.”
I caught up with Gad over Zoom from his trailer on the Australia set of “Wolf Like Me,” his and Isla Fisher‘s upcoming romantic comedy series from Peacock.
The second season of “Central Park,” Gad’s animated musical series on Apple TV Plus, premiered last month. He’s currently working on the third season. “There are people that I dream of having on the show at some point, like Lin-Manuel Miranda,” he says. “I would love for Lin to write or voice a character. Ben Platt is somebody that I would love to come on. I just got a text from Cynthia Erivo who wanted to do an episode. I’m like, ‘Anything you want to do!’”
While Gad says he thought it would be hard to sell an animated musical series, he says Apple wasn’t the only offer they received. Hulu and Netflix also made a play for the show. “The reason we actually ended up going to Apple — all of them would have been amazing partners — was fundamentally we thought it was an amazing opportunity to help define a new service, as opposed to being one of many,” he says.
Speaking of musicals, Gad also tells me that he and Andrew Rannells were workshopping “Gutenberg! The Musical!” in Los Angeles for a run on Broadway, but their plans were derailed because of the pandemic. It centers around two writers trying to get financial backing for their musical about the invention of the printing press. The original off-Broadway production, developed by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, ran for a little over a year before closing in 2007. Gad and Rannells have also spoken about staring in a revival of “The Producers.” “I’ve even toyed with the idea of going back into ‘The Book of Mormon’ for a stint,” says Gad of the show that earned him a Tony nomination.
You can listen to the full interview with Gad above. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Meng’er Zhang will never forget how she learned she was cast in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” as the titular superhero’s sister, Xialing. “I got a message from my lawyer,” she tells me. “It was a very long message and totally in English. I didn’t read the whole thing and went right to the bottom and saw the words that really matter: ‘Welcome to the Marvel universe.’ It was monumental, like a dream come true.” She was flown to Sydney for four months of training before shooting began. “I didn’t have any martial arts background,” Zhang says. “I did muay thai, tai chi and some weapons work. They’re all hard but so much fun.” The significance of seeing a Chinese superhero lead an MCU film is not lost on Zhang. “I think the world is ready,” she says.
A “Schitt’s Creek” movie is coming to a theater near you! OK, it’s not happening tomorrow, but Sarah Levy tells me that she suspects her brother, Dan Levy, who co-created the series with their dad, Eugene Levy, will bring the Rose family to the big screen one day. “A prequel, a sequel, a reboot—none of that,” says Levy, who played Twyla Sands on the series and now stars in Syfy’s new paranormal drama series “SurrealEstate.” “If I know my brother the way I know my brother, none of that will happen. It’ll be in a very well-thought-out, methodically planned, lovely two-hour situation, and that’ll be that.”
In “SurrealEstate,” Levy plays a broker who has joined a real estate firm that specializes in selling haunted houses after they rid them of their ghostly inhabitants. The owner of the company is played by fellow “Schitt’s Creek” actor Tim Rozon. Levy says the cast and crew had encounters with the spiritual realm while filming on location in St. John’s in eastern Canada. “From everything that the locals had told me the city was actually incredibly haunted,” she says. “There was a huge fire that almost took out the entire city in the early 1900s and they say that that’s kind of where a lot of the hauntings come from. There were rooms in houses that some of our crew or one of our guest stars couldn’t even go in because it was so overwhelmingly energetic.” Another guest star checked into a hotel after he experienced too much weirdness in the house he was staying in. “He was like, ‘This is fucked,’” Levy says. “It was right near a cemetery and there were a lot of spooky things going on.”
I’ll admit it — my husband, Fabian, and I addictively watched Netflix’s “Bling Empire,” so when I got to meet the show’s resident hottie Kevin Kreider recently I was a little star-struck. He tells me that the second season is going to have a lot more drama than the first. “Some people who were friends are probably not friends right now,” he teases. “You’ll see. It got pretty heightened.”
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