It had to happen sooner or later. Someone from the Houston Press has made it to Hollywood - as a writer. Former staffer Steve McVicker wrote a nonfiction work, I Love You Phillip Morris (2003), based on his Press articles ("King of Con") about unrepentant swindler Steven Russell, his Houdini-like prison escapes and his gay love life behind bars with sweet blond Morris. (Once Russell dyed his prison uniform green and blithely walked out of jail as a doctor wearing scrubs.) A movie deal was inked within months of publication, and then the inevitable years of waiting began: options, renewals, renewal options. Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa wrote the screenplay (and later signed on to co-direct), EuropaCorp supplied funding, and Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor agreed to star. The film officially opened at Sundance Film Festival in 2009, but distribution fell flat. Delays again with re-editing, while the release date was pushed back more than once (industry speak for "Sweet MGM, what do we do now?") You'd think the in-your-face gay treatment wouldn't matter to liberal Hollywood, but reviews were tepid, and the movie did only okay during its release in Europe and Japan. Although it hasn't delivered the expected blockbuster all hoped for, McVicker's movie finally got a North American distributor, Roadside Attractions, and will open in early December. But first it plays at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with McVicker in attendance. Be among the first to see, in the words of Gawker.com, "some of the most sensitive images of bitch-on-inmate affection that have ever been captured on film." They should put that on the movie posters. 7 p.m. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. Free.
Wed., Nov. 17, 7 p.m., 2010