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Ellen Page joins ‘Tales of the City’ reprisal

Ellen Page has joined the cast of Netflix’s upcoming drama Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Page will play Shawna, Mary Ann Singleton’s daughter.

Production on the 10-episode limited series revival is expected to start later this year. Netflix is scheduled to premiere the series next year.

Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis will reprise their roles in the new installment and Maupin will executive produce.

Maupin, who married Christopher Turner in 2007, began writing Tales of the City in the mid-70s as a newspaper serial. The stories, reworked, turned into a series of books. In 1978 came Maupin’s first novel, Tales of the City. Then eight more books followed, ending with The Days of Anna Madrigal in 2014. Television adaptations of the first three novels starred Dukakis as Anna Madrigal and Linney as Mary Ann Singleton.

Olympia, whom as it became readily apparent that Maupin holds in the highest of regard, was (and is) Anna Madrigal. Olympia played the part of the pot-smoking landlady of 28 Barbary Lane in the 1993 miniseries of Tales

“Oly, she went out and hired a transgender consultant for her role,” Maupin said during a 2012 book tour stop in Salt Lake City, “and talked to this woman about why she did it and how difficult was it and what emotional journey did she make. She asked ‘why would you go through this process, given that you know how hard it would be to live in this society as that person?’ And she said, ‘all my life, I’ve wanted a friendship with women.'”

Two decades ago, Maupin believed, after six books, the series had reached its culmination. 

“When I left the series in 1989, (the character of) Michael Tolliver learns he’s HIV positive — at that time it was pretty much a death sentence. I rather didn’t want the series to end with which ‘the gay man dies,’ because that’s the scenario with so many books, so many movies, year to year to year,” he pointed out. “I wanted Michael to sort of be a beacon of hope — to leave the series with him living his life, consuming it and being strong.”

In 2007 came Michael Tolliver Lives — however, the book received much criticism. Maupin wrote the seventh book as a stand-alone from the series; hence the backlash for having written MTL in the first-person narrative, unlike all previous incarnations of Tales. Maupin simply explained to the SLC audience, “I wrote MTL in first-person because I wanted to celebrate my generation of gay men. I don’t regret it.”

Then, in 2010, came Mary Ann in Autumn; the eighth installment, in which we find an embittered Mary Ann returning to San Francisco seeking solace from Michael. “So, who’s Mary Ann really,” a fan hinted at the nonfictional basis of the character, “and what about her pissed you off so bad?”

Maupin replied with an observation about himself made by a friend: “I think that Michael Tolliver is the person you wish you were, and Mary Ann Singleton is the person you’re afraid you are.”

An astonishing cliffhanger in Mary Ann in Autumn seemingly puts the ex-residents of 28 Barbary Lane on a precipice. 

The Netflix installment is set in present-day San Francisco as Mary Ann returns to the boarding house. The premise also appears to follow Mary Ann in Autumn.

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