Perhaps further evidence that big studios are staying away from dramas like the plague, “The Normal Heart” has been kicking around for the past few years in slow development. At one point, Brad Pitt‘s Plan B shingle was involved, and almost exactly one year ago, the cast — which has long had Mark Ruffalo attached to lead — was rounded out by Julia Roberts and Matt Bomer and then…nothing. But now the project has a new home and a firm start date.
HBO has announced it will produce the film that will shoot later this year and air in 2014. Based on the play by Larry Kramer, story is set in the midst of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, taking an unflinching look at the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city in denial. Roberts plays Dr. Emma Brookner, the paraplegic physician who treats several of the earliest victims of the disease. Ruffalo portrays Ned Weeks, who witnesses first-hand the mysterious disease that has begun to claim the lives of many in his gay community and starts to seek answers, while Bomer is Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned’s lover.
Alec Baldwin and “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons had previously been linked to roles, but no word if they’re still involved. Between this and the major Oscar contender “August: Osage County,” could Roberts be poised for a comeback? Certainly, this will be aiming for Emmy love and given the talent and material they have to work with, everyone involved can probably reserve dresses and tuxedos now.