It’s been a few years since the kerfuffle pertaining to Scarlett Johansson’s casting in reunion with Ghost In The Shell adaptation helmer Rupert Sanders’s incarnation of Rub & Tug, based on untold true story of Dante “Tex” Gill.
Fast forward to 2020, and with word that the film is now being refashioned as a television drama, the same goes for its overall treatment with word that Emmy-nominated writer and producer Our Lady J (Transparent, Pose) is penning the pilot for New Regency, with Dark Castle and Material Pictures producing.
A trans performer will be cast for the role of Gill, based on journalist and author Brendan Koerner’s research and coverage of Pittsburgh’s Massage Parlor War of the 1970s. Koerner is consulting on the series along with Gill’s widow, Cindy Bruno Gill. Sam Hanson and Ed Rubin will run point for New Regency Television International, with Ethan Erwin and Hal Sadoff taking the lead for Dark Castle.
Gill was the infamous transgender gangster who tangled with the local mafia, and became a key player in the city’s so-called “Massage Parlor War” in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. His inner circle, many of them LGBTQ+ and therefore forced to the fringes of society after experiencing discrimination, found a leader in Tex they could relate to and believe in. Together, Tex and his allies fought to build an illicit business empire and defend their turf from rival criminals, corrupt politicians, and the law.
“Tex’s life story is like no other, and the rich landscape of this unexplored moment in time has truly captured my imagination,” said Our Lady J. “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to write a gangster drama based on such a fascinating and diverse web of queer characters. The show is about the promise of reinvention, and the peril of losing oneself in the process. Tex Gill was out and proud in an era – the late 1970s – when living authentically came with the price of social ostracization, leaving him vulnerable to a life of crime and lawlessness. Having grown up in Pennsylvania myself, I’m also excited to delve deep into Pittsburgh’s underbelly as it unspools the story of Tex’s remarkable life – it’s also the story of a city’s struggle for rebirth and a proud community’s efforts to make its voice heard.”
Cindy Bruno Gill added, “I am excited to be working with Our Lady J and New Regency to honor Tex’s memory by telling his story the way he would want to be remembered. Tex was transgender at a time when being transgender meant facing great discrimination, yet he was fearless about being himself in a way that inspired those who knew him to be proud of who they were too. Our Lady J is the perfect person to give voice to Tex’s story, and I know he would be proud of the evolution of this project.”
Yariv Milchan, Chairman and CEO of New Regency added, “Tex’s anti-hero story deserves to come to life in a show that will embrace the politics of power, gender and sexuality. Our Lady J’s acclaimed status writing for and with the LGBTQ+ community will bring authenticity and dignity to this rich world of characters, and we have no doubt it’s a series that will resonate with audiences everywhere.”
Our Lady J was the first out trans woman to perform at Carnegie Hall, as well as the first out trans writer to be hired in a television writers’ room. She was awarded two Peabody Awards for her work on Transparent and Pose and has been nominated for three Writers Guild Awards and an NAACP Image Award. Our Lady J is represented by Writ Large.
Brendan Koerner is a journalist and author who has compiled a vast amount of research on “Pittsburgh’s Massage Parlor War”, all of which will be central to the project’s efforts to portray both Gill and his world in a historically accurate way. Koerner’s reporting and original treatment will serve as the jumping-off point for the pilot’s script. New Regency has developed a relationship with Koerner since acquiring the rights to his most recent book, “The Skies Belong to Us,” in 2017.
Over the past twelve months, New Regency has focused efforts in expanding its content creation to include a dedicated team focused on television development and production for a global audience. Based out of London, New Regency Television International draws from the company’s long-established relationships with the best writing, directing, and producing talent. The division is focused on developing and producing high-end, authored and distinctive scripted content for the global marketplace.
On the film side, New Regency’s upcoming slate includes Adrian Lyne’s Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, a film adaptation of the acclaimed musical starring Richard E. Grant, Sharon Horgan, Sarah Lancashire and newcomer Max Harwood, an untitled original film from David O. Russell starring Christian Bale, Michael B. Jordan and Margot Robbie, as well as Robert Eggers’ The Northman starring Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe.
Dark Castle is currently in post on Simon Barrett’s directorial debut Séance and The Expecting directed by Mary Harron for Quibi. Esther, the prequel to their hit film Orphan, begins principal photography in September, and their sci-fi action film Replay starring Olivia Munn just sold at Virtual Cannes.