The Rub & Tug film is moving forward with a significant course correction following Marvel star Scarlett Johansson leaving the project.
Johansson dropped out of the movie about real-life massage parlour owner Dante 'Tex' Gill, a trans man, in a project that was going to reunite her with Rupert Sanders – the director of her equally-problematic film Ghost in the Shell.
Both Johansson and Sanders had faced a backlash over not learning from their whitewashing criticism, but some significant changes are being made to the Rub & Tug project now.
This series will cast a trans actor as Dante 'Tex' Gill, as it explores the LGBTQ+ figures in his community as well as the politicians and criminals at the centre of Pittsburgh's Massage Parlor War in the 1970s.
Our Lady J announced: "Tex's life story is like no other, and the rich landscape of this unexplored moment in time has truly captured my imagination. I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to write a gangster drama based on such a fascinating and diverse web of queer characters.
"The show is about the promise of reinvention, and the peril of losing oneself in the process. Tex Gill was out and proud in an era – the late 1970s – when living authentically came with the price of social ostracization, leaving him vulnerable to a life of crime and lawlessness.
"Having grown up in Pennsylvania myself, I'm also excited to delve deep into Pittsburgh's underbelly as it unspools the story of Tex's remarkable life – it's also the story of a city's struggle for rebirth and a proud community's efforts to make its voice heard."
Gill's widow Cindy Bruno Gill has blessed the project, saying she is confident Our Lady J will be "telling [Tex's] story the way he would want to be remembered".
When Johansson previously backed out of Rub & Tug, she acknowledged she "mishandled" the backlash over her casting by initially being defensive over her right to play any role.
"In hindsight, I mishandled that situation. I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it," she told Vanity Fair last year. "I wasn't totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing – and how they felt in general about cis actors playing – transgender people.
"I wasn't aware of that conversation – I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that... It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you're kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling."
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