Hollywood Goes on the Attack Against Prop 8
PROP. 8 MANIA: Their state may have voted against same-sex marriages, and their state supreme court may have ruled to uphold California's Prop. 8 ban, but Hollywood very clearly does not agree — and you can expect to be seeing many more illustrations of that fact.
Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D List," which begins its fifth season on Bravo June 8, has already filmed "a Prop. 8 episode," Griffin recently told us. "We went to Iraq a couple of years ago. We went to Walter Reed (Army Hospital) last season. This is our serious episode for this season. We're really proud of it." Besides filming at an anti-Prop 8 rally, "D List" has "Reverend Al Sharpton, who 'laid out the greatest civil rights argument' for gay marriage," according to Griffin.
Griffin wasted no time responding to the court's decision, issuing a statement that she would not only be protesting, but that "My 89-year-old mother has asked me to get her a wheelchair to take her to a protest … She is neither gay, nor the parent of a gay person, but she is as passionate about this decision as I am."
The cast and creative team on Julia Louis-Dreyfus's "New Adventures of Old Christine" have been anxiously awaiting this week's decision by the California Supreme Court — "a decision that's an issue to us both behind the scenes and in front of the camera on our show," as costar Clark Gregg pointed out.
Wanda Sykes, who came out as a lesbian and got married to her partner last year, is among the 18,000 gay Californians whose same-sex unions have been ruled valid (along with such show business notables as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and George Takei and Brad Altman.) The state Supreme Court also just handed the "New Adventures of Old Christine" writers a twist to the ongoing storyline that has Louis-Dreyfus's and Sykes's characters on the show in a green card marriage. Since the characters are both straight, this can't help but underscore the farcical aspect of the court's decision — a subtlety that fits the series' style. Clark stressed that "Old Christine" has never gone the rout of "becoming a public service announcement," and added, "What I admire about (creator) Kari Lizer and the writing staff is that they wade into uncomfortable waters — going back to Julia's effort to get a black family into her son's school, only to have the father turn out to be a raging homophobe."
And you can be sure that lines and scenes dealing with Prop. 8, if not full storylines, are being scripted even as you read this. "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris, who is not married to the man with whom he shares his life, David Burtka, but is an outspoken proponent of gay marriage, summed up the feelings of many when he told this column, "It's wrong to try and squelch love. It's pure and simple discrimination."
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: "It was great the way Season 4 ended because there are a lot of things we're going to have to sort out and clarify," says Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who will return June 8 in the fifth season of "Weeds" as the corrupt mayor of Tijuana. He is also the onscreen love interest of the show's star Mary-Louise Parker, and when things ended last season, Parker's character Nancy had informed him that she is pregnant with his child.
"Whatever is in Nancy's mind, that's going to have to be proven first," says Bichir of the storyline, but before we know for sure if she's having his baby, he tells us we will definitely see a change in his ruthless character. "Now that there's a possibility of a child on the way, that's going to change a lot of things and maybe bring Esteban to a different state of mind. Hopefully he will be able to show not only his more sensitive side, but also many other sides without killing anyone." Hopefully.
One good part of the pending pregnancy is that music superstar Alanis Morissette has signed on for seven episodes to play Nancy's obstetrician, and Bichir admits the cast couldn't be more excited. "I haven't had a chance to meet her, but I think it's fantastic to have her on board. I'm not sure if there will be some interaction with our two characters, but, regardless, it will be interesting to meet someone whose music you admire so much."
TOGETHER AGAIN: A July 6 production start has been set for "Going the Distance," which might just end up being an appropriate description of stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. You may recall the couple were quite into each other while making "He's Just Not That Into You," then split up last summer after a year, then seemed to be on again (hand-holding, acting affectionate and telling reporters they adored each other at the "Grey Gardens" premiere in April, for instance). In "Going the Distance" they play a couple who decide to try making a go of a long-distance relationship, with both their characters having dream careers at stake on opposite coasts of the country — a familiar show business situation. It's a comedy. Drew says that Justin makes her laugh.
JUMPING IN: Sarah Chalke, who stars in Lifetime's two-night adaptation of Gigi Levangie Grazer's "Maneater" this Saturday and Sunday (5/30 and 5/31), says that the biggest challenge in making the miniseries was "how dense it was in terms of production and just being in every scene. It was a really fast turn-around." The tale of a gold digger determined to marry a rich and successful Hollywood power player before she hits Botox age has the "Scrubs" actress in scenes ranging from zany physical humor (as in a dance sequence in which her very pregnant character is onstage with a group of seniors) to drama (when her character gives birth). What helped was that the production — which also stars Gregory Harrison, Maria Conchita Alonso, Judy Greer, Philip Winchester, Marla Sokoloff and Paul Leyden — shot on location. "It was so intense, hours-wise, it was nice to be somewhere else and not have to deal with everyday stuff in your life," she says.
With reports by Emily Feimster.
To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2009 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
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