EXCLUSIVE: The writer/director Wachowski siblings have begun to invite actors to meet on their new film Cobalt Neural 9 about a taboo gay romance between an American and Iraqi soldier. But agents are telling me it has become yet another “top secret” project they and their actors can’t read. That means they can’t advise their clients whether to be in the pic sure to be controversial because of its “Hard R” storyline. But I’ve learned there is an increasing Hollywood obsession with keeping scripts under wraps right now because of the ease with which these copyrighted documents get published on the Internet. So much so that this is changing the way actors audition for hot button or fanboy friendly projects. More and more, reps don’t get to read full scripts. In some cases, on films like Spider-Man or The Avengers, the actors don’t, either. “CN9 is just the latest of a growing list of scripts that are being kept under lock and key,” one frustrated dealmaker tells me. “How do you do your job and advise clients when studios and filmmakers don’t want agents and managers to see scripts? If actors are lucky, they go to an office and read it with somebody watching. This kind of secrecy only used to happen with Woody Allen and maybe Steven Spielberg. But now it is rampant.”
Reps say it has happened recently on such scripts as Universal’s Battleship, the Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes, Thor, … Read More »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At this 2010 TCA, the issue of depicting diversity on shows has become a key talking point as the broadcast networks present their new programming to the media. First, it was CBS’ Nina Tassler admitting she was disappointed with her outlet’s track record” on depicting gay and lesbian characters after CBS recently received another failing grade from GLAAD. Then CBS producer/talk host Sarah Gilbert discussed how her lesbian sexual orientation will be part of the story on her show The Talk. At NBC, much was made of the two black romantic leads in its spy series Undercovers, and the Indian stereotypes on Outsourced. Today, it was ABC’s turn. Its hour-long documentary-style show My Generation (based on the Swedish show “On God’s Highway”) tracks 9 characters through a 10-year-period from high school to young adulthood in Austin, TX. The first question for the panel from TV critics was: Why no gay character? The show’s creator and executive producer Noah Hawley responded that the audience would be “meeting more characters. We have families and this whole high school class that we can meet over time. We are going to continue to push the diversity. That is really important to us.” Added executive producer Warren Littlefield, “I think there are some gay people in Texas, so – yes.”
GLAAD released its 2009-2010 report on representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on television, in which MTV became the first network to receive an excellent rating. All broadcast networks showed improvement, with the CW for the first time topping the list with 35% of its programming featuring LGBT characters, up 15% from last year. Powered by Glee, Fox jumped to second place with 30%, up 19% from last year. Meanwhile, ABC, which had led the rankings since their launch, surprisingly slipped to third with 26%, up from 24% last year. That’s despite the fact that the network features probably the most prominent gay couple on TV at the moment, Modern Family‘s Mitch and Cameron. NBC and CBS as usual trailed with 13% and 7%, respectively. In term of grades, the CW and ABC got good, Fox and NBC adequate and CBS failing.
Overall, MTV led the list with 42%. On the cable side, it was followed by ABC Family (37%), TNT (34%), Showtime (32%) and Lifetime (31%), FX (27%) and HBO (26%), with USA (4%), A&E (3%) and TBS (2%) far behind.
I hear Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman who’s known as the “Coming Out Guru” is developing with JUMA Entertainment an A&E project with the working title, natch, Coming Out. The concept will feature multiple public figures coming out of the closet. Casting is still in process. Bragman has been working with celebrities coming out of the closet for two decades and recently orchestrated exposure for Meredith Baxter and country singer Chely Wright. Bragman and Baxter were part of a “Coming Out in Hollywood” panel at Outfest, the gay and lesbian film festival, this past weekend, and Bragman mentioned that if anyone knows a high-profile celebrity coming out of the closet he has a great TV opportunity.
Sean Hayes has been set to host the 64th annual Tony Awards, to be broadcast June 13 from Radio City Musical Hall by CBS. Hayes is also a nominee for Promises, Promises, in the category of Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. He was also nominated by the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle.
This is the first hosting stint for Hayes. The actor recently found himself in the news after a Newsweek.com article –that bordered on homophobic–took the position that gay actors are unconvincing in straight roles. The rant singled out Hayes and his work in Promises, Promises. Hayes, who had declared he was gay just before the revival opened. His costar and love interest in the musical, Kristen Chenoweth, wrote a scathing letter of support, and it started a chorus of negative reaction against an article which seemed designed to be an attention-getter, but which backfired.
Kristin Chenoweth Jumps To Defense Of ‘Promises, Promises’ Co-star Sean Hayes After Newsweek’s Moronic Sexuality Slam
On the heels of its wins at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, Fox’s freshman hit Glee was named best comedy series at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards Saturday night in Los Angeles. Additionally, Tom Ford’s A Single Man won for best film (wide release) and Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race for best reality program. Also during the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Drew Barrymore was presented with the Vanguard Award and talk-show host/comedian Wanda Sykes with the Stephen F Kolzak Award. The event, which featured a performance by American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, is one of three that give away GLAAD Media Awards in different categories. Among the winners announced in New York on March 13 was ABC’s Brothers and Sisters as best drama series. The third ceremony will take place June 5 in San Francisco.
Journalist Diane Haithman filed this report for Deadline about last night’s Writers Guild of America, West, meeting for all leaders in the entertainment industry deeply interested in the realistic portrayal of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters that also happen to be black:
I expected a short RSVP list for WGAW’s Tuesday night panel Flipping the Script: Beyond Homophobia in Black Hollywood. It doesn’t take a demographics expert to notice that, in the mainstream Hollywood product, there just aren’t a lot of African American LGBT characters waiting to be discussed. (FYI: I am black though not gay.) But flip that script: A capacity crowd packed the room for this lively discussion, proving there are plenty of people in the industry who not only know that LGBT is not the acronym for some new cable TV network, but want to explore the ways that biases toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Hollywood are further complicated by race.
Writer and panelist Jasmine Love (The District) doesn’t much like the term homophobia, preferring the term “heterosexism.” Phobia, she said, means fear, and “it’s easier for people to think that they are afraid” than biased. Heterosexism, she said, is like racism — an institutionalized bias that affects jobs and advancement: “It means: ‘You can’t write heterosexual stories,’ or ‘You can’t work here,’ ” she said.
Producer-director Paris Barclay (The Treatment) said that, despite the presence of sympathetic gay characters on popular TV series … Read More »
GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) announced that Drew Barrymore will receive the Vanguard Award, and Wanda Sykes will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 17th.
UPDATES About Hollywood’s Coming-Out PR Guru
UPDATE: Coming-out PR guru Howard Bragman (who took actress Meredith Baxter out today) just commented about the interview to me: “As I read it, the important part of what Rupert said wasn’t about actors and opportunities. It was at the end where he said that, despite the professional opportunities he was denied, he was a happier person. And I can tell you that of all the many, many actors I have taken out of the closet, not one has ever regretted the decision to live their life honestly. Whether it hurts an actor, I always tell people that may be what happens, and they have to measure their personal happiness against their potential career. There may well have been other reasons Rupert didn’t become the leading man he imagined himself going to be. But this isn’t about your bank account. This is about your soul.”
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Rupert Everett said: “The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off. And … Read More »
LA Weekly recently ran an in-depth cover story on how showbiz flack Howard Bragman helps gay actors come out to the Industry. “In Hollywood,” Bragman told the paper’s Patrick Range McDonald, “most publicists keep their clients in the closet. And I’m the guy people tend to come to when they want to come out of the closet.” He’s done this since 1991 when Bragman helped actor Dick Sargent — the second Darrin on Bewitched — to come out on Entertainment Tonight. Most recently, Bragman has helped Chastity Bono navigate the publicity of becoming the transgendered man, Chaz Bono. ”I didn’t want it in The National Enquirer, so I called TMZ and told Harvey Levin it’s a go. He did it in the most respectful way,” Bragman said. “Chaz still hasn’t said one word to the media. It’s worked out really well.” The publicist has also brought out former Party of Five regular Mitchell Anderson, Married With Children co-star Amanda Bearse, and 1980s TV character actor Tom Villard (before he died of complications from AIDS in 1994). During one high-profile stretch of sports figures, Bragman also brought out NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, LPGA star Rosie Jones, WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes and retired NBA center John Amaechi, all of whom remained closeted until after they consulted with Bragman, who worked for months on their coming-out plans.
Bragman isn’t yet as well-known for this as for founding major flackery BNC (Bragman, Nyman, Cafarelli) or and his new boutique PR firm Fifteen Minutes. … Read More »
UPDATES GLAAD: More Gay Characters On Network, Fewer On Cable
Los Angeles, CA, October 01, 2009 – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today released the 14th annual “Where We Are On TV” study, a comprehensive review of scripted LGBT primetime characters in the 2009-2010 television season. After more than doubling last year, the overall number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters on broadcast networks continues a steady rise.
The report shows that 18 LGBT characters will account for 3% of scripted series regulars in the 2009-2010 broadcast television schedule, up from 1.3% in 2006, 1.1% in 2007, and 2.6% in 2008. The number of scripted LGBT series regulars found on mainstream cable networks continue to decline, from 40 in 2007, 32 in 2008 to only 25 this year.
From research and information provided by the five broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW — GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” study reviewed 79 scripted comedies and dramas announced to air this upcoming season, and counted a total of 600 series regulars, 18 of which are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
“It is promising to see not only an increase in the quantity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender television characters but that storylines about the LGBT community are becoming more reflective of current issues impacting our lives,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Americans now see LGBT couples marrying, raising families
… Read More »
Tomorrow, GLAAD’s 14th annual “Where We Are on TV” report, which measures the quantity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on primetime and cable television for the the 2009-2010 TV season. I’ve learned some of the key stats will show:
– Quantity of gay and lesbian characters on primetime broadcast is up for the second year in a row. GLAAD counted the total number as well as the percentage compared to the total number of series regulars. Last year characters made up 2.6% of series regulars.
– There is only one lesbian and very few gay people of color among series regular characters.
–While the quantity is up, the storylines are also “becoming more realistic,” GLAAD says. “Americans now see teens coming out on Fox’s Glee, couples getting married on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters and gay couples adopting on ABC’s Modern Family.”
– The number of gay characters on cable is down.
More as I get it…
There’s another ”Gay Gate” picketing event organized by members of the WGA West’s Gay & Lesbian Writers Committee for gay and lesbian writers, talent, and other supporters today at NBC Studios in Burbank (at the Alameda Gate) from 10 AM to 1 PM.
Writer/director C. Jay Cox and Michael Medico (who heads up the blog Hot in Hollywood) are hosting “Gay Gate” at the main gate of Raleigh Studios Hollywood at 5300 Melrose Avenue today from 10 AM until 2 PM Los Angeles Times . Invited are gay and lesbian writers and actors to join at a central location for one day. They said they decided on Raleigh since the gayest show on television, Ugly Betty, is filmed there. As the invitation reads, “Let’s picket because we’re right. Let’s picket together because we’re fabulous!”
On Monday, assistants are organizing a central picket between 12 Noon until 2 PM at the Main Gate (Pico & Motor) of the Fox lot. Invited are assistants and other “below-the-line” employees (“particularly those who have been laid-off by the media conglomerates”) who support the WGA and would like to picket in unity with the writers. “For writers, this is a chance for us to celebrate the assistants and “below-the-line” employees, and to recognize them for the sacrifices they’re being forced to make as we fight for a fair deal.”
Here’s another punch thrown in the ongoing Blu-ray vs HD-DVD format war. Tomorrow at 8 am, Wal-Mart is offering a “secret sale” of a Toshiba HD A2 HD-DVD player for a rock-bottom price of $98.87 (and $15 HD movies…) Best Buy fought back and dropped the price of its identical Toshiba player to $99.00. I hear it sold out online nationwide within five hours. As one tipster told me, “Cheap prices like this will crown the champ.” But Hollywood studios think they will anoint the king with their content.
Certainly consumers who’ve had no intention of dropping a dime for either format DVD player may reconsider now. Plus, more crazy HD-DVD discounts are coming later this holiday season. So I asked some studios in the Blu-ray camp what they think about this deep discounting. ”The initial target for high-def discs are not consumers simply seeking the lowest price. After all, the whole appeal here has to do with quality of image,” an insider told me. “We’re talking about people who’ve already spent several thousand dollars on an HD flat screen TV and high-end sound system. So if you spend that much and want to upgrade to a high-def disc experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to jump on the cheapest player out there.” The Blu-ray camp also questions whether selling at a loss is an HD-DVD ”desperate measure” in recognition of the power of the competition which … Read More »
Michael Musto has a must-read column in my sister paper, the Village Voice: Fame Is Such a Drug. . . I Mean, Drag. Hint: he was in the gay men’s version of The View.
Of course, Isaiah Washington acted like a horse’s ass. But it’s amazing to me that he has been fired from Grey’s Anatomy by its producers at ABC Television Studios when the network itself doesn’t have clean hands on the issue of storylines about homosexuality. I’ll go ahead and make the accusation: ABC Entertainment regularly airs programming that is anti-gay. I am specifically referring to the network’s recent plots portraying non-heterosexual men as serial killers or accused multimurderers or suspected deviants on its three daytime soap operas. There is no way that this can be called a positive or even neutral depiction of gay or transgender male characters. I’ve held back reporting this because I first wanted to see what long-term consequences Washington’s use of an anti-guy slur, and then attempt to cover it up, would have on his future with the show. (Grey’s Anatomy is owned by ABC Television Studios which is a division of ABC which is a division of Walt Disney.)
Once upon a time, soap operas in general, and ABC’s in particular, were leaders in advancing public knowledge about social issues (rape, mental illness, racism, abortion, illiteracy, gang violence, etc). Regarding homosexuality, Erica Kane’s daughter Bianca on ABC’s All My Children in 2000 declared herself a lesbian and from then on became the moral compass of the show. And, indeed, lesbians on soap opera do seem to get more positive portrayals. Nor is it unusual on soaps to see gay characters anguish because … Read More »