Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Ammiano to be in Milk movie


Tom Ammiano. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Supervisor Tom Ammiano is set to appear as himself in a new biopic about the life and death of Supervisor Harvey Milk, the nation's first out gay male politician, which will begin shooting in the Castro in two weeks. 

Ammiano, who turned 66 last month, said this week that the director of the new movie recently called him to offer the part.

"Gus Van Sant said he would like me to be in the movie. I thought it was quite an honor," said Ammiano. "To me, it is a very gracious gesture."

Ammiano, who was friends with Milk during the 1970s, said he did not know what scenes he would appear in during the film. Back in 1975 Ammiano became the first gay public school teacher in San Francisco to come out.

That year, the Board of Education voted against including sexual orientation in the school district's non-discrimination policies. One year later the board reversed its decision, and in 1977, Ammiano helped lead the successful campaign against the Briggs initiative, which would have prevented gays and lesbians from teaching in California's public schools.

Ammiano speculated his role in the film likely has something to do with his working with Milk to defeat the anti-gay measure.

"When Briggs was around, I was a gay teacher and got to ask him some questions," recalled Ammiano, who has yet to receive a copy of the script.

Titled Milk, the movie will star Bay Area resident Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White, the distraught former city supervisor who gunned down Milk and Mayor George Moscone inside their City Hall offices 30 years ago this November.

For Ammiano, it is not the first time he will appear on screen as himself – that is, if he does not end up on the cutting room floor, joked the standup comedian. He appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk and the 1999 TV movie Execution of Justice.

Made for the USA cable channel, the film depicted the "true story" behind the assassination of Milk and Moscone, focusing more on the life of White, played by Tim Daly. Performing as Milk was actor Peter Coyote, whose wife Stefanie is now executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission and working closely with the producers of the new Milk film.

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