Monday, 10 May 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #504: Two Stories of No

Welcome to the show folks...


The floundering Newsweek magazine has sparked the wrath of Chenoweth, and by that I mean singer, actress, and pint-sized hot tamale Kristen Chenoweth. A Newsweek writer decided to write a piece stating that openly gay actors can't be believed when they play straight characters, and that Sean Hayes, currently co-starring with Chenoweth in a revival of Promises, Promises, is the perfect example. Chenoweth didn't care for this article slamming her co-star, and I must admit that I don't either.

The article paints with far too broad a brush. Judgments on acting have to be based upon the individual actors, and the roles they play. I've seen a lot of heterosexual actors who aren't believable playing heterosexual, but I'm not going to slam the entire acting profession because of them.

Now a lot of people will bring up Rock Hudson as the prime example of the gay actor who believably played straight for his entire career, but that's not an entirely accurate analogy. Hudson was in the closet for his entire career, right up until his untimely death. Only a few Hollywood insiders knew the truth about his life, and they didn't talk about it.

Hayes' emergence from the proverbial closet was really just a matter of paperwork, since most people filed that news under "W" for "Well D'uh," and that's the hair the Newsweek writer is trying to split. Newsweek's claim is that an openly gay actor can't play hetero because he thinks Hayes' performance strikes him as "stiff" or "camp."

If he has a problem with Hayes' performance, then he should say that has a specific problem with a specific actor's performance in a specific role. He should not declare it evidence of some sort of failing of an entire segment of the acting population. Openly gay Neil Patrick Harris successfully plays a rampantly hetero womanizer on the sitcom
How I Met Your Mother, and openly gay comedian Rick Mercer, successfully played a heterosexual TV producer on the Canadian TV show Made In Canada (aka The Industry in the USA), so I just don't see Newsweek's theory about all gay actors holding that much water.

In fact, it says more about the personality of the author of the article than it does about homosexual actors and what roles they should play. I prefer letting the individual stand on their own merit and talent, and not condemn gay actors to the choice of playing either gay, or some sort of sexless eunuch, because it's unfair and limiting not only to the actors, but to filmmakers / playwrights, and the audience as well.

Besides, if the author finds knowing about the personal lives of actors distracting, then the entire media should put a moratorium on reporting on the personal lives of actors. It might cost them a lot of money in lost sales, but it might help them enjoy their entertainment better.


I guess Bernie Madoff didn't completely clean out Kevin Bacon's piggy bank because he found enough change in between the couch cushions to turn down the leading role in Stephen Spielberg's Terra Nova about a futuristic family living among the dinosaurs.

But seriously, while I might make light of the decision, I can see Bacon's point.
Terra Nova sounds a lot like Land of the Lost with lots of expensive special effects, and we all know how that turned out for Will Ferrell. And let us not forget that Spielberg doesn't have that great a record as a TV producer when you take Michael Crichton's ER out of the picture. Most prime-time shows that had Spielberg's name in the producing credits were either short lived, or limped along for a couple of seasons because his personal clout, and not because they lived up to any of the promise they held in their debut.

I suspect that Bacon's keeping his options open for a project that has a better chance of success without locking him into a dead weight of a TV show that outside of the immediate paycheck could do more harm than good to his career by keeping him tied up for 2-3 seasons.


  1. Furious D, Doesn't this Spielberg/Bacon Terra Nova project connect with your post last week about ,"quality control" and how crap gets made in Hollywood these days? Dinosaurs,the future, why oh why? All that talent for such a venture.

  2. Because Spielberg likes dinosaurs and no one can say no to Spielberg.

  3. A feature-film version of Land of the Lost could've worked if they'd stayed true to the original concept. What killed it was turning it into a "comedy" that ticked off a good number of the original show's fans (whom you'd think would be a large chunk of the movie's target audience) while including material that rendered it inappropriate for the younger viewers that might've embraced the movie had they played it straight.

    I find the idea behind Terra Nova (futuristic family travels back in time to live in the age of dinosaurs) interesting, but as you note Spielberg's track record on TV doesn't inspire confidence.