Coming this November--a Hollywood movie about Harvey Milk

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Milk Directed by Gus Van Sant, this homegrown Greek tragedy -- the City Hall assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone -- is fueled by Lance Black's passionate, meticulously researched screenplay. For decades, the desire to create a fictional template for the slain gay politician's achingly brief career has tempted, absorbed and ultimately frustrated an array of talents, from Oliver Stone to Milk biographer Randy Shilts, to Van Sant himself. To Black, the core of the problem was to find the emotional heartbeat of the story, the elusive but vital role Milk has played in the imaginations of queer kids looking for a father figure. The film opens this fall.

Milk kicks off with two hippies: a scraggily bearded Wall Street dropout, Milk (Sean Penn), getting it on with #1 boyfriend Scott Smith (James Franco). The couple's camera shop becomes a neighborhood hangout, attracting a bevy of ambitious young men: Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), Jack Lira (Diego Luna) and Dick Pabich (Joseph Cross).

The drama heats up as Milk's crusade to put an openly gay person in a position of power at City Hall clashes with the barely concealed resentments of straight-identified residents who find their tribune in a mercurial ex-cop, Dan White (Josh Brolin).

Trying to keep the drama to a mall-friendly two-hour running time has reportedly led to some scene cuts, while sexual moments have been added in the first-act honeymoon between Franco and Penn. With its high-octane talent and politically charged story, Milk promises to be one of the fall season's Oscar front-runners. (Wide release begins Nov. 28.)

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