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“How I Met Your Mother” ends its nine year run tonight – brought Neil Patrick Harris new level of stardom is the series finale for How I Met Your Mother after nine successful seasons.

The show is leaving while still a hit, made stars out of some unknowns and made even bigger stars out of Neil Patrick Harris and Allison Hannigan.

It was just during the second season of HIMYM that Harris, playing the womanizing Barney Stinson, came out publicly as gay.

The acknowledgement did not make him any less convincing in the role and he has since gone on to become on of TV’s biggest stars.

I wonder what Mad Men creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner thinks of NPH’s career trajectory.

Back in December 2009, I covered a panel during which Weiner said “let’s not pretend” that openly gay actors are not limiting their future career choices when they go public.

“I’m sure that there are limitations to the kinds of roles that (Harris) can get in the future,” Weiner said during a Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel. “… He knows that and would rather live his life honestly.”

During that same panel, Mother co-creator Carter Bays was asked about Harris’s coming out in the fall of 2006 and he described it as “a crazy time … it was definitely unchartered water for us as second year show-runners.”

Bays said things worked out well because Harris “is such a phenomenal actor, you don’t care. … He’s such a stable, centered guy. … He’s a poster boy for anything he’s involved in.”

As Bays spoke, Weiner interjected with these thoughts: “I think it can be a commercially devastating thing.”

He repeated the conventional wisdom that if a gay actor is out, he cannot be seen as a sex symbol in heterosexual roles by audiences: “The viability of you as a character – no matter how good an actor you are – can be jeopardized by this. We struggle with it – obviously, it’s wrong. It shouldn’t be that way.”

So much has happened in five years.

Matt Bomer plays a raging heterosexual on White Collar, for example, and Zachary Quinto doesn’t seem to have “limitations” in his career since coming out.

Neil deserves a lot of credit for paving the way confidently and for showing that when you are a true talent, you can change the way people think and prove people like Weiner wrong.

FILE UNDER: Television


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