Entertainment Halston creator on telling a fashion giant's unfiltered story 25 years in the making — sex, drugs, and all
HIV drugs run short in Kenya as people say lives at risk
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans living with HIV say their lives are in danger due to a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs donated by the United States amid a dispute between the U.S. aid agency and the Kenyan government. The delayed release of the drugs shipped to Kenya late last year is due to the government slapping a $847,902 tax on the donation, and the U.S. aid agency having “trust” issues with the graft-tainted Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, activists and officials said.
Twenty-five years before Netflix released Halston, a five-part limited series starringas Roy Halston Frowick, director Daniel Minahan tried to bring the story to the screen as a movie.
He took the idea to the production company Killer Films and they licensed the book Simply Halston by author Steven Gaines, who chronicled the fashion designer's rise from dreamy-eyed Midwesterner to creator of the famed pillbox hat worn by First Lady Jackie Kennedy and the man behind an influential fashion brand in the 1970s. The source material also delved into the icon's sex life as a gay man and his dealings with drugs — which, for films in the '90s, felt bold.
Watch Ewan McGregor Become the Mad Genius Halston in Sexy New Trailer
Watch the highly-anticipated trailer for writer-producer Ryan Murphy's new Netflix miniseries about the famed American fashion designer, premiering May 14.Those bold words are uttered by none other than acclaimed fashion designer Halston, played by Ewan McGregor, in the fabulously glam new Ryan Murphy Netflix biopic miniseries of the same name.
Even though this was years before Minahan directed queer-friendly episodes of The L Word, Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy, and True Blood, he didn't feel he needed to water down the pitch for Hollywood. Over the phone from his Provincetown home, Minahan tells EW, "[Killer Films'] trademark was this very direct, queer... They were at the forefront of queer cinema." (Carol, Boys Don't Cry, Kill Your Darlings, My Days of Mercy, and Far From Heaven were all titles produced by Killer Films.)
The story he wanted to tell about Halston — warts and all — didn't ultimately work as a 90-minute feature. "We took a couple of good runs. There was a lot of interest in it, but we just couldn't get it there," Minahan recalls of that time. So, he let it go, only to return to the idea years later. This cycle would repeat for more than two decades.
This week on "Sunday Morning" (May 16)
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Minahan calls it "this psychotic obsession." He had a Manhattan Mini Storage unit full of research he amassed over the years, and he would secretly buy up Halston fashion pieces whenever he came upon them in the event that, one day, he might actualize this dream.
"The thing that always struck me about it that I thought was so cinematic and so compelling was the idea of this guy who comes to town, invents this name, creates an empire around it, and then is literally stripped of his company, his name, and his identity. That's such an American story," Minahan says. "On top of it, he was a creative genius who had a huge influence on our culture, not just the way we dress, but he was at the forefront of this idea of branding. I think that's what kept me coming back, just the idea that you could separate a person from their own identity."
'Halston' producer defends Ewan McGregor's casting and the show's 'dramatic license' after the designer's family called it 'sensationalized fiction'
Insider spoke to Christine Vachon about the series, which Halston's family says is "sensationalized fiction" but Vachon says is "true to his spirit."Directed by Daniel Minahan and produced and co-written by Murphy, "Halston" is led by Ewan McGregor, who delivers a delicious, tour-de-force performance as the troubled, talented, tantrum-prone designer.
When Killer Films producer Christine Vachon introduced the idea of turning the story into a series, once the rights to Gaines' book became available again, it finally came together.
Minahan revamped the idea to center each episode around the creation of a Halston collection or a major event, like the Battle of Versailles Fashion Show told in the Netflix show's second episode. McGregor came on board to play the role in 2019 after "a fantastic first meeting," Minahan recalls, during which he put on a show-and-tell with all his research., whom Minahan worked with directing episodes of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and then it was a go at Netflix, where the executive producer has been developing multiple shows, like Hollywood and The Politician.
LGBTQ representation on screen has come a long way, especially in the age of streaming, but Minahan is reminded of where acceptance was back when he first tried developing what would become Halston. "Certainly I was not as experienced as a director at that time, so I'm really glad I made it now," he remarks.
Ewan McGregor reveals meeting with Liza Minnelli for Halston TV series
The 50-year-old Scottish actor revealed during a talk show visit Monday that he met with Liza Minnelli, 75, ahead of portraying her late friend Halston in a Netflix miniseries. The 50-year-old Scottish actor during a remote appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers was asked by Meyers, 47, about meeting with people who knew the famous fashion designer first-hand in preparation for the role.'Yes, I was really lucky. I mean, there are some people in his world, who kindly sat down with me, people he worked with.
Minahan, who directs all five episodes, already heard some feedback to the premiere, which sees the designer meeting his lover Ed Austin (played by Sullivan Jones) and spending a night together. "People keep saying to me, 'Wow, it's like the first 10 minutes of the show and there's this full-on gay sex scene.' I'm like, 'That's funny. I think of it as a love scene,'" Minihan says. "I think they fall in love in that moment."
It seemed McGregor was just as committed to the authenticity of this story. The actor is known for playing roles like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars and struggling writer Christian in Moulin Rouge!, but he also portrayed gay characters in the past, most notably opposite Jim Carrey in 2010's I Love You Phillip Morris.
Minahan says he was "constantly surprised" by McGregor. "There were times where we would do a scene — and it wasn't just the sex scenes," the director remembers. "There were these moments when he would do something that was so well observed and so honest and so gay." Minahan chuckles to himself saying that. "I wanted to walk up to him and just say, 'How did you know that?' He's such a great observer of people and so empathetic."
The Halston Archives and Family has since come out to state they were "not consulted on the upcoming Netflix series" and called Halston "an inaccurate, fictionalized account" of the designer. "Even though the family hasn't seen it yet, I respect that they have an opinion," Minahan says in response. "I've been working on this for more than 20 years. It's really been a labor of love for myself and my producers."
Sex workers gain foothold in Congress
Sex workers have gained the backing of a small group of Democratic lawmakers after largely being shut out of the policymaking process.The turning point was the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), also referred to as SESTA after the original Senate bill, which was framed as a way to punish online platforms facilitating trafficking and abuse but broadly opposed by the very industry it was meant to help.Despite the best efforts of sex workers to dissuade lawmakers, the bill passed through both chambers easily and was signed by then President Trump in 2018.
Minahan confirms he wasn't in contact with the family in developing the show, but he did consult with people who worked with Halston, including his models and those present in the fashion maven's workroom. Minahan was also in touch with David Mahoney, the businessman behind Norton Simon, Inc. which acquired the Halston company, before his death in 2000. (portrays Mahoney in the series.)
"I consider this a dramatic homage to Halston and a celebration of his genius," Minihan says. "It was really touching to know that the close friends of Halston who have seen it felt like it was a loving and accurate depiction of the guy. I've devoted a lot of my life to telling this story. I hope that when [the family] sees it, they will feel the same way."
Halston is now available to stream on Netflix.
The Battle of Versailles: The legendary fashion show, in which New York Antrat against Paris .
in 1973 dictated the venerable Couturiers from Paris, which was fashionable. But not only the world changed so slowly, but also what the women wanted to wear on it. On November 28, 1973, five designers from Paris came against five designers: in New York in a legendary fashion show against each other.