I’m very much looking forward to seeing the documentary How to Survive a Plague at Outfest tomorrow night. If it lives up to expectations, then it will have been quite an outstanding trio of documentary films – Vito and United in Anger: A History of Act Up are the others – that focus on the amazing activists during the AIDS crisis.
I wrote about Vito a few days ago and now want to share some thoughts about United in Anger directed by Jim Hubbard. DGA 2 was absolutely sold out on Monday for this documentary about the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a group that was willing to do whatever it took to get drugs approved for the treatment HIV and AIDS.
It is astounding, and actually thrilling, to watch this group in action. Thank God they faithfully filmed whenever they took to the streets and protested government agencies. We really get a front-row seat to their weekly meetings which resulted in some really ingenious demonstrations at the headquarters of the Federal Drug Administration, The White House, inside the studio at CBS News as Dan Rather began his newscast, inside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and other locations.
That’s the thrilling part of it all, when you see these events come together and you see the government, drug companies and powers that be actually be shaken – and shamed – out of their apathy.
You understand their fury at the indifference of the federal government and there is such an urgency because so many of these activists were literally fighting for their lives – and so many did not live much past the interviews they are shown in.
Hubbard reminds us of who each and every activist is every time they are on screen and it is very effective to share when they died. Such vibrant, brilliant and beautiful people gone.
Films like this ensure that they live forever.
One survivor, Matt Ebert, says in the film: “I wouldn’t be alive today if I had not been arrested 20 years ago. I would not have the medicines to take to stay alive. … It gave a lot of young gay kids something to fight for. It was our World War II.”
When ACT UP was formed in 1987, more than 40,000 people had already died from AIDS in the United States. President Ronald Reagan had yet to utter the name if the disease. In New York City, where ACT UP was formed, Mayor Ed Koch was equally apathetic.
But ACT UP got the world’s attention.
Member Larry Kramer, the renowned author and playwright (The Normal Heart), was jubilant in the film after 7,000 activists ascended upon St. Patrick’s Cathedral to protest the Catholic Church’s position against using condoms to prevent AIDS.
“They’re afraid of us now,” Kramer says. “That’s the best thing that could’ve happened to us.”
After the screening, Hubbard said his motivation for making the film is to ensure that ACT UP and AIDS activism is given its rightful place in US history. Just as importantly, he wants to inspire younger generations.
Hubbard has scathing words for the Reagan administration which, he says, set a model of “malign neglect” for other countries around the world when it came to dealing with AIDS.
“We could get rid of AIDS if there was political will,” he said.
I snapped photo (above) of Hubbard after the film with two ACT UP members who are in the film: David Robinson and Patricia Navarro.
This is not my favorite time in the life of our Will Horton.
He’s blackmailing EJ because he knows he’s not a DiMera. His father, Lucas, is worried sick about Will’s continued association with EJ saying the kid is “in way over his head. … It’s like a game to him and he thinks he’s got the upper hand.”
“He’s on this power trip … and he’s being cagey.”
Lucas turns to Will’s grandma Marlena and her husband John for help.
Meanwhile, Will defends EJ to his mother who is flying off the handle.
There’s also growing suspicion that EJ killed his father which we know is not true but will continue to play out because he is clearly being framed.
I say we clear EJ, he and Will have a big showdown then give in to their obvious attraction to each other.
I really thought the Boy Scouts of America was on its way to not kicking out its members and leaders for being openly gay.
Then we find out that 19-year-old Eagle Scout Eric Jones (pictured) got the boot on Sunday immediately after coming out to his troop leader.
Now this: Earlier today, the Boy Scouts of America announced that after two years of consideration by an 11-member committee, they have no plans to change their anti-gay policy.
Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive said in a statement: ‘The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisors, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.’
The last time Rafael Nadal carried Spain’s flag in the opening ceremonies of an Olympic Games, he went on to win the gold medal in singles.
That was four years ago in Beijing.
‘I want to thank all the federations that have given me this opportunity,” Nadal said at a press conference today. “The Games are the most important sporting event in the world, for any athlete it means reaching your goal.”
Although Nadal had won all of his sport’s major titles, including seven French Opens and two Wimbledons, it’s clear his Olympics experience ranks high: “In Beijing 2008, when I lived in the Village with everybody, I discovered what the Olympic spirit is all about. I think it was the best experience I’ve had in my career.
Darren Criss, so cute when he’s clean-shaven and preppy, is still pretty cute when he’s shaggy and bearded.
He was among the Glee cast members who appeared at Comic-Con in San Diego over the weekend to talk about the upcoming season and was asked about the relationship between Blaine and Kurt (Chris Colfer) now that Kurt has graduated.
“I think we all want to see them together for as long as possible,” Criss said. “The inevitable pitfalls of a long-distance relationship produce a lot of conflict. I don’t know, I’m just an actor! The new format of the show is gonna shake everything up.”
That format has several of the characters who graduated off to different places. Rachel (Lea Michele) is in New York while her boyfriend Finn (Cory Monteith) has joined the military.
Naya Rivera was asked about the status of the show’s other same-sex super couple Santana and Brittany. She said her character of Santana is a cheerleader at UC Louisville but knows little else at this point.
“I don’t know, I think right now as we left it, they’re really good and they definitely love each other so I hope they’ll make it,” Rivera said
Two of the sitcoms I watched faithfully as a kid – okay, and as an adult – were I Love Lucy and Bewitched.
William Asher, who died today at the age of 90, was a key creative force behind both shows as a director and producer.
He directed 100 of I Love Lucy’s 181 half-hour episodes between 1951 and 1957 (the show did 13 one-hour episodes 1957-60).
Following his run on Lucy, Asher brought Sally Field to TV screens in Gidget, directed and produced The Patty Duke Show then moved on to another television classic: Bewitched which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery with whom he had three children.
He was also director of the the popular Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movies Beach Blanket Bingo, Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach.
“When I look back at my own work, Bewitched stays with me the most, and Lucy, and the Beach Party pictures,” he once said. “The scripts of the Beach Party films were sheer nonsense, but they were fun and positive. . . . When kids see the films now, they can get some idea of what the ’60s were like like. The whole thing was a dream, of course. But it was a nice dream.
His wife, Meredith, says he died Monday at a facility in Palm Desert, Calif., of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
The show was a spinoff from the Bea Arthur sitcom Maude as it focused on the family of Maude’s former housekeeper Florida Evans (played by the late, great Esther Rolle).
As the show went on, it put more and more focus on the annoying character of JJ Evans. His ‘Dy-no-mite’ gimmick got on my last good nerve very early on.
Now, more than 30 years later, it is the actor who played him, Jimmie ‘JJ’ Walker, who is annoying me with his comments about gay marriage.
Walker spoke out against gay marriage in an interview with CNN earlier today saying ‘there’s just certain traditions that need to be upheld.’
‘No, it doesn’t affect me, no, it doesn’t change my life,’ he acknowledges. ‘There’s just traditions that need to be dealt with. I’m a believer that gay marriage should be passed because the battle is not worth the war. The gay lobby is very loud. I’m totally against it.’
He added: ‘In 100 years from now, people are going to go, ‘Who was against gay marriage?’ And I’ll be one of those idiots and say, ‘That’s me.’ I’m just against it on moral grounds, that’s it. I’m as much a heathen as anybody. I just don’t believe on moral grounds it should be done. I don’t like it, I don’t accept it.’
There was a time that Serena Williams only cared about the major tournaments like Wimbledon and the Australian Open and gave lackluster efforts at the smaller events.
That’s why people like Dinera Safina and Caroline Wozniacki ended up being number one despite never having won a major title.
But now, at the age of 30, Serena is giving a full effort each time she steps onto the court – no matter where it is.
She certainly proved that with a crazy schedule that had her flying to Northern California after her Wimbledon victory just a week ago to compete in the Bank of America Classic at Stanford University.
She now has to turn around and return to London to compete in the Olympics which begin next week.
But at least her effort was worth it. Serena won the tournament at Stanford and in doing so, equaled older sister Venus Williams’ total of 43 WTA Tour titles – the most among active players.
The 30-year-old Serena has won 28 of her last 29 matches and is now joint sixth on the all-time list of WTA Tour title winners.
Martina Navratilova tops the all-time list with 167 titles, ahead of Chris Evert who has 157. Steffi Graf is third with 107 followed by Lindsay Davenport with 55.
“I’ve never felt this fit, this strong, this happy to play — and I think I can be even better,” Serena said after the win.
“I want to sustain this momentum and build on what I did at Wimbledon. I’m going to get back on the grass now for the Olympics — I’m not sure when I’m heading back to London, but I’ll do it as soon as I can.”
Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Roger Federer did not play in a tournament last week but he still was able to make history.
The latest ATP rankings were released today and for the second week in a row, Federer was number one – his 287th week at the top overall.
This breaks a tie he was in with Pete Sampras who had the record for more than a decade.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion says he is “extremely proud and honored to have beaten Pete’s record as he was my childhood hero and I have always looked up to him.”
The Swiss star will enter the Olympics next week as the world’s top-ranked player.
Sampras says “the hardest thing to do in sports is the ability to stay on top. Roger has been able to do so by great play and durability.”
Well done Roger!
Behind Federer and Sampras on the list are eight-time grand slam winners Ivan Lendl (270 weeks) and Jimmy Connors (268 weeks) while John McEnroe, a winner of seven major titles, was at the top for 170 weeks.
Now that Anderson Cooper is officially out and proud, I feel even more eager to share just about every little thing about The Silver Fox with you all.
So, here’s the latest scoop: Anderson has given up ice cream!
We know that he has no use for coffee or spinach (had not even tasted them until last year on his daytime show) but ice cream he loves.
So why give it up?
“I’ve tried to cut down on my sweets and just try to overall eat healthier and lower my cholesterol,” he says. “I have not had ice cream in about two months and I don’t really miss it too much, I must say.”
On Saturday afternoon at Outfest, I watched the wonderful film Petunia.
The film was directed by and co-written by Ash Christian and has a first-rate ensemble cast that includes Christine Lahti, Michael Urie, Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and today’s very sexy Morning Man Jimmy Heck.
The film focuses on a dysfunctional family and Heck plays the middle brother, an artist who is also a sex addict.
I snapped a photo of Heck in his suit while he was on stage with the cast after the screening (see below) and made a mental note right there and then: This dude is Monday’s Morning Man!
The handsome and chiseled 27 year old is a former semi-pro soccer player then became a fitness model before coming to Los Angeles to launch an acting career. Pentunia, on which he is an executive producer, is his most significant role to date.
He previously had small parts in the TV series Matchmakers and the TV movies The Wish List and Dumb Girls.
I’ve had a very busy last few days at Outfest filled with all kinds of different movie-going experiences from the very sexually explicit I Want Your Love on Friday night (OMG!) to a very satisfying collection of Boys Shorts on Saturday morning followed by the wonderful film Petunia. I’ll be posting more about those programs, as well as a panel I attended called TV Comedy’s Come A Long Way, Baby!, in the coming days.
But the emotional highlight was, hands down, the 30th anniversary screening of Making Love, the 1982 film that was considered so controversial at the time because of its story of a young married doctor (Michael Ontkean) coming to terms with his homosexuality. Kate Jackson played his television executive wife and Harry Hamlin an author with whom he becomes involved.
After the film screened, Hamlin was part of a panel that included director Arthur Hiller and writers A. Scott Berg and Barry Sandler.
“The first time I read the script I was turned on, I really liked it,” said the 88-year-old Hiller. “When I read it the second time I thought, ‘This is the kind of movie that should be made and I want to make it.”
Hamlin also talked about why he agreed to do the movie: “I read the script and did have a lot of people say I shouldn’t do it. I had just done Clash of the Titans and I always thought that movie was kind of stupid. I felt I wanted to do something to balance that out, something relevant to the time. I was looking for something real.”
Hamlin said that while watching the film again Saturday, he was struck by how it took place in “a more innocent time. No one had ever heard the word AIDS before.”
The handsome actor, once named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, went out to gay bars – something his character of Bart did just about every night – and had to explain he was doing research for a role because he kept getting hit on.
“He was committed to the honesty of the part,” Sandler said.
The movie was the first major studio release with a gay story at its center and was the first film to come out after 20th Century Fox was bought by Texas oilman Marvin Davis whose reaction about releasing a “faggot movie” was not good.
But Sandler feels the studio did a good job at promoting the movie with a campaign aimed at gays and another more ambiguous campaign aimed at straights.
“The gay community was ready for it, there was great anticipation and excitement,” he said. “The studio was nervous about the straights. There was cryptic advertising that would say everything except what it was.”
Hiller talked about how he fought with one of the TV networks when it wanted to cut a kiss between Hamlin and Ontkean out for the television airing. He asked them: “Why did you buy the picture?”
The kiss was put back in.
Hamlin and the writers pointed out that the version shown on Saturday at the Harmony Gold Theatre did not include an overhead shot of Hamlin and Ontkean’s characters having sex.
Then they revealed that the shot was not of the two actors anyway.
Said Berg: “Barry went up to Santa Monica Boulevard to get two guys off the street from [the gay bar] Blue Parrot.”
“We just found the two hottest guys who we could find,” Sandler added.
Hamlin, who went on to star for many years on LA Law, continues to be reminded about the movie 30 years later.
“Pretty much not a day goes by, if I’m out in public, does somebody not come up to me and say something about this film. Some will have tears in their eyes and say, ‘Thank you for making this film.’ It really is seminal to a lot of people.”
I’m still blown away by the performance of Christopher Sieber in the national tour of La Cage Aux Folles which is currently playing at The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.
He is playing the larger-than-life role of Albin opposite George Hamilton as Georges. He had played Georges on Broadway opposite Harvey Fierstein’s Albin.
This is one talented man!
He’s a two-time Tony Award nominee for Shrek The Musical and Spamalot.
Other hits include Into the Woods, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago and Beauty and the Beast.
I met Christopher back in 2003 during a wonderfully intimate evening at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre. He was starring with fellow out actor John Benjamin Hickey in the ABC comedy All That’s Relative about a gay couple raising their adopted daughter and dealing with the over-the-top family of her fiancee.
The show was canceled after just one season. It seems it was just a little ahead of it’s time.
Anyway, Sieber has never looked back and continues to amaze with his talent as you can see in these clips below.
Michael Ontkean was not at last night’s 30th anniversary screening of Making Love at Outfest but he certainly was on the minds of many of us audience members who most enjoyed seeing his beautiful face on the big screen again.
Such a gorgeous man and such a good performance as a man who is coming to terms with being gay after being married eight years to a woman (Kate Jackson). His brief relationship with a writer (Harry Hamlin) just opens the gay floodgates and there is no looking back for Ontkean’s character.
The actor, also known for his roles on TV’s Twin Peaks and The Rookies, is now 66 and still acting some. Most recently, he had the role of cousin Milo in the George Clooney film The Descendents.
The Canadian actor was such a good hockey player growing up and at the University of Vermont that he was offered a contract to play professionally with the New York Rangers.
But the child of well-known Canadian performers Leonard and Muriel Ontkean loved acting more and headed to Hollywood in 1970. He soon landed a series of TV guest spots (including The Partridge Family!) and became a star when he was cast in The Rookies. He left the hit show after just two seasons and spent a few years writing poetry before returning to acting in 1977 with the hit Paul Newman film Slap Shot which united his two loves: acting and hockey.
He went on appearing in various films such as Voices (1979 with Amy Irving), Willie and Phil (1980) and Summer (1981 with Brooke Adams) followed by the groundbreaking Making Love in 1982.
After appearing in such films as Made to Order and The Allnighter, he landed another of his best-known roles: Sheriff Harry Truman in the 1990 TV series Twin Peaks.
Many other roles followed, my favorite of which was the 1994 miniseries Family Album opposite Jaclyn Smith. He has not had many credits since a series of guest appearances in 2004 on the Fox series North Shore.
Congratulations to Jennifer Capriati who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island earlier today.
Now 36, Capriati’s career was cut short about seven years ago by injuries she was never able to fully recover from.
She also missed three years in the middle of her career after dropping off of the tour due to burnout and teenage rebellion.
That’s why it is remarkable when you look at what she was able to accomplish. She made it to the final of her first pro tournament at the age of 13, made the semifinals of the French Open when she was 14 and beat Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon when she was just 15 and Martina was the defending champion.
Then at 16, she won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1992 (beating Steffi Graf in the final).
After her lost years, she returned to the tour in 1996 and took more than three years to re-establish herself as a top player. Then in 2001, she beat Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis in successive rounds to win the Australian Open. She won the French Open that same year and became the number one ranked player in the world.
Capriati beat Hingis again, coming back from 4-6, 0-4 down to win the Australian Open in 2002. But she suffered heartbreaking losses in the semifinals of the US Open in 2003 and 2004 and was never able to win that grand slam title or at Wimbledon.
”I still managed to overcome some adversity, win a Gold Medal, win some Grand Slams and stand at the podium at the Hall of Fame,” said Capriati, breaking into tears during her acceptance speech. ”This is one milestone I thought I’d never achieve.”
She now feels as though her tennis career is fulfilled.
”It was tough having to leave the game,” she said, cracking a bit with emotion. ”It’s like mourning a loved one that’s gone and a relationship’s that gone, a part of yourself. It wasn’t easy, but something that’s gone and what you loved to do.
”It took a while to accept that and let go. This is so great for me because it’s putting a lot of closure to my career and I’m able to move forward, give thanks, take thanks, give the honor and take the honor, and just be acknowledged here. It means everything to me.”
Seles, who edged Capriati in an epic 1991 US Open semifinals considered to be one of the greatest matches of all time, was on hand to induct her former rival into the Hall of Fame. Also inducted Saturday was three-time French Open champion and former world number one Gustavo Kuerten.