A chat with Emmy nominee Paris Barclay!
Paris Barclay, one of the most respected – and prolific – directors working in television today already has two Emmys at home for episodes of NYPD Blue.
This year, he’s nominated for directing the “Wheels” episode of Glee which focuses on the wheelchair-bound character of Artie and the gay character of Kurt and how his father stands up for him.
So how badly does Mr. Barclay want to win tonight?
“Not much,” he confessed to me at Saturday’s BAFTA/LA Tea Party. “I’m counting on Ryan [Murphy] winning. When you actually do the pilot and you actually do the original casting and you’re the principal writer of it. The way that he’s worked on that and put the show together, my episode would not exist if not for Ryan Murphy’s pilot and his work after that. I’m hoping he’s acknowledged. I think he has some tough competition with Jason Winer of Modern Family.”
Paris is currently working on a new season of HBO’s acclaimed series In Treatment and his other credits include such series as Cold Case (he was a co-executive producer), The Shield, House, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The West Wing, Sons of Anarchy, Law & Order, ER and on and on.
But being involved with Glee (he also directed the “Home” episode with Kristin Chenoweth) has been something very special: “Glee is the most extraordinary experience I’ve had really since The West Wing. When I was on The West Wing there was the feeling that it was in the zeitgeist, people were watching it, it was kind of at that level of interest. Every place I go and if someone finds out I work on Glee, they want to talk about it. It’s exhausting! I haven’t been on a show quite like that, not even House. Even In Treatment has its fans but it’s nothing like the phenomenon like Glee. This is the first show that my family religiously watches which helps.”
Since Paris is openly gay and quite respected in entertainment and LGBT circles, I wanted his thoughts on Glee’s Kurt Hummel played by Emmy nominee Chris Colfer. He has a crush on straight friend Finn whose mother is dating Kurt’s father. Kurt’s dad (played by Emmy nominee Mike O’Malley) has been staunchly supportive of his son.
“I think the whole storyline between Kurt and his father is brilliant and I know it comes from Ryan’s personal experience and that infuses it to me with really just heart-tugging emotion,” Paris said. “I know everyone doesn’t behave exactly the way people want them to behave but this is reality and a lot of these things, Ryan has told me,. has really happened. The Defying Gravity kind of thing is what Ryan’s story is so I applaud it and I found it really moving.”
Paris has directed many actors, gay and straight, in a variety of roles. So what did he think of the controversial Newsweek article where the writer asserted that an openly gay actor can not convincingly play a straight role.
“That was ridiculous.” he said. “I think it was so wrongheaded and misguided. We already have Glenn Beck, we already have Dr. Laura. Do we really need an increase in negativity in our discourse? We;re already tearing down everything that is possibly respected. The president, the country, religious freedom. Why can’t we just give each other a break and think about some tolerance. I was just surprised that a young, gay writer from Newsweek would go there. I’m hoping that he’s learned a lesson. Even though not many people are reading Newsweek, enough people are reading it to cause a firestorm.”
Speaking of gay characters, Paris tells me that when In Treatment returns to the air on Oct. 25, one of psychologist Gabriel Byrne’s clients will be a 16-year-old gay kid!
“The story is unbelievable,” he said.