If you've never seen the Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, you should lend it your attention. Aside from being a great film, about a homosexual politician in 1970s San Francisco who was assassinated by a co-worker, it needs to be seen before Milk's image is tainted by Sean Penn. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Penn is set to play Milk in a biopic to be directed by Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho). Now, I admit Penn is a great actor, but he just doesn't have that nice-guy charm that Milk had. Instead, Penn is good for serious, brooding characters. Milk was all smiles, and Penn's smile is not nearly as pleasing. Also attached to the film is Matt Damon, who will play Milk's assassin and fellow SF City Supervisor, Dan White (hopefully Damon will wear a dimple-chin prosthetic).

For those wondering, no, this isn't the Milk biopic that we've been hearing about for awhile being made at Warner Bros. That long-planned project, being scripted by Christopher McQuarrie and to be directed by Bryan Singer, is waiting on the production of the duo's Valkyrie -- and maybe even on The Man of Steel. But we did learn of this rival production back in April. Now, if Van Sant can fast track his version, it will take the lead and the advantage. Plans are to begin filming in December with a script penned by Dustin Lance Black (TV's Big Love), though apparently if the untitled film doesn't finalize a shoot date soon, Damon may not stay on board (too bad; he's perfectly cast). The project is being produced by American Beauty's Oscar-winners Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks with financing coming from producer Michael London (Sideways) and his Groundswell Productions. They are currently in talks with one of the major specialty divisions about distribution.