Ian McKellen and Laura Linney to explore Sherlock’s twilight years

The actors will star in A Slight Trick of the Mind, adapted from Mitch Cullin’s novel which imagines Sherlock Holmes battling dementia in old age

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
theguardian.com, Thursday 8 May 2014 06.43 EDT

In recent years the sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes has been depicted as ass-kicking and wisecracking in Guy Ritchie’s movies, and as drily witty and cerebrally thrilling in the BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. But now a new, quieter side to Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective is set to reach the screen: his old age, after he retired to keep bees.

Ian McKellen is set to play Holmes in A Slight Trick of the Mind, adapted from the 2005 novel by Mitch Cullin which imagines Holmes’s twilight years, alluded to in Doyle’s novels. The film will depict him working on his final case aged 63, and also retired in Sussex aged 91, mentally frail and obsessed with the unsolved crime. Laura Linney will play his housekeeper, Mrs Munro, whose son Holmes has a fatherly attachment to.

The film will be directed by Bill Condon, who has worked on acclaimed films with each of the actors before: the Oscar-winning Gods and Monsters with McKellen, and his Alfred Kinsey biopic with Linney. “It’s a really great mystery about who Sherlock Holmes is, but it’s also a lovely, delicate movie about what happens as you get older,” Condon told Entertainment Weekly. “I’m looking forward to the combined talent, skills, and smarts [of Linney and McKellen]. Both of them are incredibly detail-oriented and do an amazing amount of work before they get to set, and then they dive off the board and become their characters.”

Linney, who recently gave birth to her first child, is something of a self-confessed Sherlock nerd: “I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a young kid. You know how some people are into Dungeons & Dragons? I was into Sherlock Holmes. I loved the atmosphere of the stories. I loved the intrigue, his personality.”

The BBC TV series meanwhile may not return for some time, due to the difficulty of filming three feature-length episodes around the filming schedules of its cast. Mark Gatiss, who co-created the series with Steven Moffat, told a fan Q&A in Brazil this week that it would be at least two years before new episodes are aired.

Jude Law, who stars in the Ritchie movies, said last year of a possible third film: “I think [Warner Bros.] wants it, and there’s a lot of want from us as a team. We want it to be better than the other two. We want to make sure it’s smarter and cleverer, but in the same realm.”


Posted in Ian McKellen, Laura Linney | Tagged , | Comments

Curtain Call: PW Talks with Armistead Maupin

By Wendy Werris
Dec 20, 2013

With The Days of Anna Madrigal, Armistead Maupin brings his 12-character-based Tales of the City series, set in San Francisco, to a close after 40 years.

Tales of the City was conceived in 1976 and resulted in nine books. What kept drawing you back to these characters?

There’s great power and pleasure in being able to tell a continuing story for almost four decades. Readers connect the characters to moments in their own lives, landmarks in their own evolution; the books meld with their memories and form a sort of marriage between reader and writer.

You bore witness to the rise of gay culture in America, the AIDS crisis, and the defeat of DOMA. Are you surprised by the victories in the LGBT movement?

Well, that’s been my aim with Tales—to record these changes as I felt them. When I suggested, long ago, that gay and straight folks could form a family, it was regarded as an almost utopian concept. I wrote about lesbian mothers 30 years ago. One of my characters was the first AIDS fatality in fiction. I’m delighted, but not surprised, because the engine that drives this revolution is the basic human need for love and self-expression, and that can only be suppressed for so long.

The newspaper culture seems a shadow of its former self since you started writing the series for the San Francisco Chronicle.

I had a tremendous advantage in those pre-Internet days. The newspaper was the only reading matter that was freshened daily. You read it at the breakfast table and discussed it at the water cooler, so it became a kind of ritual, and the story expanded in the collective imagination. We have too many distractions now for that to work with the same intensity.

Days is a loving tribute to Anna, who is still a cherished character after nearly four decades. What is it about her that has inspired such fan loyalty?

Anna is a parental figure who doesn’t make the usual demands. All she wants is for her children to be happy, to be themselves. The male/female duality of her life has made her wise, kind, and deeply intuitive. And lots of people love Anna because they think of Olympia Dukakis in the PBS miniseries. She’s a dear friend of mine.

You left San Francisco last year to live in Santa Fe, N.Mex., with your husband. Are you enjoying it?

I find Santa Fe stimulating. We live in an adobe house at the end of a dirt road in the company of coyotes and ravens and the brightest stars I’ve ever seen. And the people, in their own way, are every bit as vivid as San Franciscans.

Days will be the final book in the Tales series. Was it difficult to write?

Yeah, it was kind of tough. You can’t wrap up the lives of 12 people without dropping a bomb on them, and I felt a tremendous responsibility toward Anna. Days dips into Anna’s past—her boyhood, in effect—so I could capture the full scope of her life. For the next book, I’ve been flirting with the notion of a free-form memoir, but I don’t know for sure. There are nights here when the coyotes make me want to write something really spooky.


Posted in Interview, The Days of Anna Madrigal | Tagged , | Comments

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City Selected as 10th Annual One City One Book

Posted on June 20, 2014 by Public Affairs

Maupin to speak on Oct. 23 at Main Library

San Francisco Public Library is thrilled to announce that the 10th Annual One City One Book selection is Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a beloved book that celebrates San Francisco in the 1970s. Mr. Maupin will appear at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium on Oct. 23 at 6:00 p.m., in conversation with K.M. Soehnlein.

Library bookshelves will be stocked with fresh copies of Tales of the City in September – or, read it over the summer and be ready for all the fun events happening this fall! Citywide programming will take place throughout September and October.

For almost four decades, Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.

One City One Book: San Francisco Reads is an annual citywide literary event that encourages members of the San Francisco community to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it in book groups and at events throughout the City. By building bridges between communities and generations through the reading and, most importantly, the discussion of one book, we hope to help to make reading a lifelong pursuit and to build a more literate society.

Sponsors for One City One Book include the San Francisco Public Library and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. The program is also supported by many bookstore partners, program partners and media sponsors.

For more information visit: sfpl.org/onecityonebook or Twitter: #ocobsf14 or call 415 557-4277.

About the Author:

Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944, but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam. Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976 he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, and The Night Listener, among other works. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three Tales novels. The final Tales book, The Days of Anna Madrigal, was published in 2014.

Maupin lives in Santa Fe and San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.



Posted in Appearance, Armistead Maupin | Tagged | Comments

E-reader review: ‘Jackie Old’ by Armistead Maupin

By Bill Daley
11:04 a.m. CDT, May 23, 2014

Past predictions of the future, especially a future that is itself in the past, always have an absurd cast to them upon reading. But there’s an unexpected poignancy to Armistead Maupin’s “Jackie Old,” a very tongue-in-cheek prognostication from 1980 about what life would be like in the fall of 1999 for a 70-year-old former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Onassis, of course, died in 1994 at age 64. The narrator of Maupin’s story, an earnest John F. Kennedy Jr., died at age 38 in July 1999, just three months before this story begins. Truman Capote, who makes a cameo appearance at the start of the story, was in reality long-dead by 1999.

“Humor and satire were my intentions here,” writes Maupin in a new introduction to mark the re-release last month on Kindle of his short story. “That’s a good thing, because I was obviously no Nostradamus.”

Described now as “a tale of the future told in the past,” the story was originally published by New West magazine just a few years after Maupin launched another sort of tale, his hugely successful “Tales of the City” series of books, which climaxed earlier this year with publication of “The Days of Anna Madrigal.”

“Jackie Old” is populated with all manner of what-ifs. As Maupin notes in his preface, there’s no AIDS epidemic. Cell phones and laptops seem nonexistent but television news reports are holographic. And then there’s an earthquake, the proverbial big one, that levels the San Francisco governed by Kennedy Jr.’s wife, one Jade Jagger. Yep. Mick’s kid with Bianca becomes a Kennedy in this story; remember, it’s a 1980 point of view.

Of this story and his powers of prediction, Maupin writes, “I succeeded in predicting nothing of significance beyond the enduring spirit of the LGBT movement and the rise of the Christian right in mainstream American politics.”

While the story centers on the ever-loyal and long-suffering Kennedy Jr. and his mother, a reclusive figure as drawn to her stardom as she is repelled by it, San Francisco’s gay community plays a major supporting role in the plot. The LGBT community has in many ways become the quake-ravaged city, and there’s a sense of pride, of freedom, of self-expression found in this 34-year-old work that resonates today. Maupin did, indeed, get that right.

That reality gives a satisfying spin to this fantasy, described by Maupin as a “wobbly imagining” of 1999. It makes for fascinating reading.

Bill Daley is a food and features writer for the Chicago Tribune.

“Jackie Old”

By Armistead Maupin, Kindle edition, 42 pages, $1.99


Posted in Jackie Old, Maupin Original Writings | Tagged , | Comments

Armistead Maupin comes back to San Francisco

Leah Garchik
Updated 6:32 am, Thursday, May 15, 2014

“Somebody put a note on my Facebook page,” said Armistead Maupin on Wednesday, “saying, ‘The town isn’t the same without you.’ ” It was time to share the news: The novelist, famous first as creator of “Tales of the City,” and husband Christopher Turner, who two years ago decided to move to Santa Fe, are back for good. They’re renting a ground-floor flat in a Castro cottage, both “craving village life again,” said Maupin.

They’re going to keep their house in Santa Fe “because we love it, putting it up on Airbnb in hopes, of course, that it will pay for our tiny SF apartment.” They returned “because we were missing the city of our hearts, and we both kind of admitted it at the same time. … We absolutely adore the wild nature of our home in the desert, but it’s not enough. So if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to have both things.”

P.S.: Maupin just returned from the University of North Carolina, where he was given an honorary doctorate “for my contribution to LBGT life. The greatest thrill of the experience was seeing Christopher identified as my husband on the Jumbotron at the stadium, in front of 33,000 people.”

Basically, said Maupin, “I was honored for being a big old queer, which is the first time they’ve ever done that.”


Posted in Armistead Maupin | Comments

Armistead Maupin to receive honorary UNC degree

by Matt Comer Editor editor@goqnotes.com
Published: May 7, 2014 in News

Iconic gay writer and North Carolina native created famed ‘Tales of the City’

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Iconic openly gay writer and North Carolina native Armistead Maupin will receive an honorary degree from his alma mater during commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Maupin, who grew up in Raleigh, attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, graduating in 1966. As a student, he wrote for the Daily Tar Heel and, after graduating, worked for Raleigh news station WRAL, where he worked under the tutelage of former TV commentator and later U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

“I really didn’t have a friendship with him, as such,” Maupin told qnotes during an interview in 2008. “He was more of a mentor who guided me in the late ’60s and early ’70s. There was no more communication with him after I came out.”

Maupin said his undergraduate writings were influenced by Helms before he started working with him.

“I took as my inspiration then the editorials and TV commentaries of Jesse Helms,” Maupin said, adding, “I don’t think it is possible for younger people to know just how terrorized we were by a society that didn’t recognize our existence. Movies and television and pop music were all completely mum on the subject. When homosexuals did appear on the screen, they were usually destined for suicide or the asylum.”

His youthful conservative streak was handed down to him by his parents.

“I was raised a conservative and still had a great deal of racist colorations in my thinking,” Maupin said. “My father once walked our entire family out of Christ Church in Raleigh when the minister began to deliver a sermon in favor of desegregation. I had a lot of unlearning to do. Being queer helped me in that process. I challenged my own assumptions about homosexuality and I had to look at everyone else’s oppression.”

Maupin later enlisted in the U.S. Navy and moved to Charleston, S.C. He later took a job with The Associated Press in San Francisco and, in 1976, began his legendary “Tales of the City” series at the San Francisco Chronicle.

The serials were later published as a series of novels. In 1994, “Tales of the City” was produced as a PBS miniseries, later winning a Peabody Award.

Maupin will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters at Chapel Hill’s commencement exercises on campus this weekend. Other honorary doctoral recipients will include former Gov. Beverly Perdue, women’s historian Anne Firor Scott, Amherst College President Biddy Martin and philanthropist Marjorie Bryan Buckley.


Posted in Appearance, Armistead Maupin | Tagged , | Comments

World Book Night 2014

This evening I, along with 25,000 other volunteers throughout the US, distrubuted 500,00 books to people who identify as infrequent readers.  World Book Night is also celebrated around the world.  The aim of World Book Night to share the love of reading with infrequent readers.

IMG_2887Twenty Five books were selected for WBN by booksellers across the county, and I was thrilled to hand out “Tales of the City” by
Armistead Maupin.    It was a  rewarding experience to give books to people who, at first, were waiting for a sales pitch, but ended up surprised, with a big smile and a gracious “Thank You”.

I chose to hand out books on Massachusetts Avenue in Downtown Indianapolis, where a four story mural of Indianapolis Native, Kurt Vonnegut, oversaw my efforts.  I also met Amy who is looking forward to reading the book on an upcoming trip.IMG_2888

A Special Thanks to all of those involved in World Book Night, including Booksellers, Authors, Staff and Volunteers.   I can not begin to imagine all of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

For more information on World Book Night, visit   http://www.worldbooknight.org

Posted in Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City, World Book Night | Tagged , , | Comments