June 30, 2014

First Out Eagle Scout Marches At Pride...And Is From Kensington MD

I missed the beginning of the annual Pride Parade yesterday but saw this amazing article and photo (below) in the TIMES today of Boy Scouts as the parade's opening color guard. Since scouting finally changed it's policy after a decades-long battle, you can now be openly gay and a member of the scouting organization though if you are 18 and/or a scouting leader, you are not allowed to be openly gay and involved in scouting. 

Though there's clearly some work to be done with the bizarre second half of that policy, what is incredible is that America now has its first out Eagle Scout who marched in yesterdays group as well. Even more amazing is that he is from my hometown in Maryland! Pascal Tessier, 17, hails from Kensington, MD where I was a scout myself back in the day with Troop 460. My troop is no longer active but Pascal's troop is actually located in Chevy Chase and has a long, storied history too as one of scouting's oldest operating troops. He became an Eagle Scout there earlier this year after six years of hard work and 27 merit badges. 

I thought it was so cool to read about this kid and his accomplishments, and that he is actively advocating for scouting to revise that terrible second half of its new policy. When people wonder why we celebrate pride it's because of incredible stories like this!

June 27, 2014

In 2014, Some Actors Still Have An Issue With Playing Gay

There were two stories this week about male actors and their reluctance to play gay. I found this news a bit surprising given how much things have changed in the last 10 years, with many straight actors like Jared Leto and Jake Gyllenhal doing some of their best work playing gay roles. I thought maybe actors' nervousness, both professional and personal, was maybe a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

On the HBO show TRUE BLOOD, the actor Luke Grimes reportedly left the show when he found out his character was going to have a gay romance in the new season. While his agents contend the reasons for the move were strictly professional (ie. he booked bigger feature gigs), it does seem to be a case of curious timing.

On an NBC show, Brendan Fehr is playing a gay doctor on NIGHT SHIFT. However, he admitted in a recent interview that he had great difficulty with the intimacy that the role requires.  His comments about having trouble kissing onscreen partner Luke Mafarlane (?!) were maybe taken a little out of context. But it's still troubling that an actor would publicly admit to something like this...unless it was some strange reverse attempt at publicity for the show during gay pride month. The old adage of there being no such thing as bad press may be at play (especially when it comes to a summer show on NBC!).

Anyway, that this is still even part of the conversation in 2014 is troubling to me as a filmmaker who often writes gay characters. In fact, I recently had an experience in auditions for a new project where one of the actors was great and said he was totally comfortable with the role. Then, after he read the script which does involve kissing another guy, he balked and took himself out of consideration. My advice for him? If he can't do his job as an actor, which is to play other people...all kinds of other people, then he may want to consider a career in catering. Just saying...

June 20, 2014


I've recently been catching up on the Netflix original series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. It's a unique show set in a women's federal prison with some fascinating and memorable characters. For me, one of the additional thrills watching it is that the show was cast and shot in NYC so the actors playing all these roles are some wonderful and familiar faces (like nightclub singer and Bway songstress Lea Delaria). And, like all New York actors, they've all "done their time" on NBC's LAW & ORDER. 

A clever woman named Stef at the website Autostraddle (?!) has gone through IMDB and found most of the major characters in their appearances on the NBC staple, along with screen grabs from their roles. The pornstache prison guard, played by Pablo Schreiber, had a major recurring role on LAW & ORDER:SVU stalking/torturing star Mariska Hartigay's character. The only one it seems who wasn't on the show was oddly enough series star Taylor Schilling. 

One of my personal favorites on the show is the mom Aleida Diaz, played by Elizabeth Rodriguez, who I directed as the spacey sister of Lauren Velez in my romantic comedy I THINK I DO. Her role on OITNB couldn't be further from her hilarious work in ITID but it's great to see her one the show in such an impressive lineup of talented ladies.

June 17, 2014

ALL BY MYSELF Gets Epic iPhone Music Video In Airport

This is one of more viral videos of the month--a self-made music video to Celine Dion's version of "All By Myself".  Though it was shot entirely on an iPhone what's more impressive is that it was entirely shot by the guy performing in it, Richard Dunn

He was an Atlanta visitor to Las Vegas who got stuck in McCarran Airport overnight and, instead of whiling away the hours til his 6 a.m. flight, he decided to get creative and make this video to amuse his wife. He strapped his iPhone to a wheelchair using some baggage tape he got before the airport shut down and then had fun, lip-synching and over-emoting to Celine's classic (with a Celine cameo too...sorta). 

The video has been seen more than 11 million times on Vimeo, YouTube and other platforms. And even Celine saw it herself, and loved it too! Not bad for a night's work...