Tag Archives: Glee

An Evening with Jane Lynch

Last night I went to see Jane Lynch at the JCCSF (Jewish Community Center of San Francisco).  She was a last minute replacement for Glee executive producer Dante Di Loreto, and nobody was complaining!  The event was held at the Center’s Kanbar Hall, a theatre with 468 seats.  I was lucky enough to have an empty seat in front of me, so I had a great view of the stage.  I know the seat was sold when I bought my ticket, so I feel sorry for the person who couldn’t make it.  Three nights ago, at Napoleon at the Paramount, I told a couple of the gentlemen I met about this event.  The first thing they did when they got home from Napoleon was buy tickets.  I saw them in the auditorium, and they were even more thrilled than I was to meet Jane Lynch and hear her speak.   Lynch is charming and delightful, and yes, very funny unscripted.

After a clip of Lynch was shown from Glee on the screen behind, she was interviewed onstage by David Wiegand.  They mostly discussed the show, and Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester.  She said the kids don’t ask her for career advice, mostly because they’re too busy working.  She described how hard the young actors work, and how exhausted they are at the end of the day.  She also said she loved that feeling of exhaustion after doing work she clearly loves.  Lynch also talked about the tailored track suits she wears, and how she’s actually never thrown a slushie herself on the show.  Even though they don’t really use ice, the slushies are cold and miserable to be hit with, and the kids have to shower and get hair & makeup redone every time.  Retakes are NOT popular if somebody misses. She likes her scenes with Quinn a lot, and she’s clearly fond of Chris Colfer.  She described how, when the show first began and they all had to have physicals, he confessed that he’d never been to a doctor by himself before.  Lynch loves to sing but isn’t a dancer, so she finds it ironic that she’s done more dancing than singing on Glee.  It sounds like she really enjoyed the Madonna number she got to perform.  Wiegand asked her a few non-Glee questions.  Lynch described how she met her wife here in San Francisco at the Westin Saint Francis Hotel.  She also made several references to her memoir, Happy Accidents, which I now must read.

I’m new to using the video function on my digital camera, but here’s a quick clip.

After the chat onstage, Lynch answered questions from the audience.  Two ladies had portable microphones, and they moved around the auditorium choosing raised hands.  I wanted to ask Lynch about her performance in the play 8 by Dustin Lance Black, which was about Proposition 8 and streamed live on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.  She played Maggie Gallagher, a conservative who vehemently opposes same sex marriage, and I’m curious if she heard of a reaction from Gallagher.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t chosen by the ladies before we ran out of time.  Valuable time was taken up showing three other clips from Glee during the interview.  Most of us who attended watch Glee, so the clips really weren’t necessary.  I wanted to hear Lynch talk more.  I think the clips were prepared for Di Loreto, since none of them were of Sue Sylvester.

After the interview and Q&A, we all went into the atrium where some talented teenagers sang a medley of songs from Cabaret.  Then Lynch signed copies of her memoir and anything else people brought to have autographed.  She also posed for photographs across the table.  The fans were well-mannered, and she was relaxed and friendly.  I had a chance to tell her she was great in 8 and Criminal Minds when she autographed my Entertainment Weekly magazine.  Everybody left satisfied and happy.

Listen to the JCCSF podcast of the interview here.

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Filed under Actors, Television

GLAAD Media Awards 2011

I spent Saturday night as a talent escort at the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards.  These awards recognize outstanding representations of the LGBT community in the media, and they are held each year in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  This was my third year participating, and last year I blogged about my volunteer experience.  A talent escort is assigned one of the presenters, award recipients, or performers, and their job is to make sure they arrive on the “red carpet” to meet the press, find their table at the banquet, get to the green room backstage, and make it onstage at the right time.  This allows the participants to relax and enjoy the event.

As before, I got to witness some of the intense work and coordination involved in putting together a successful Awards ceremony. The GLAAD staff is always impressive, and they work long hours behind the scenes to ensure a smooth-running presentation.  This night has become one of the highlights of my year, and I always look forward to seeing Jackie and Tom and the other staff members.   It’s wonderful seeing the other talent escorts again, and we spend our breaks  in the volunteer room catching up and taking silly photos.  I’m on facebook with many of them, and there are new escorts to get acquainted with each year.  Of course, there are other volunteers besides the talent escorts: many people work in teams checking in attendees, taking tickets, running the fundraising auctions, etc.  Most of the volunteers live in the Bay Area, but some of them travel around the US to help out with all three events, and I’m in awe of their commitment to GLAAD.

John Gidding, designer and host of HGTV's Curb Appeal: The Block.  Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.com.  All rights reserved.

John Gidding, designer and host of HGTV's Curb Appeal: The Block. Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.com. All rights reserved.

It was a particularly good presentation this year.  I got to watch most of the show, since the presenter I escorted went onstage near the beginning.  The host was Naya Rivera (Santana on Glee) and some of the participants were Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Top Chef winner Yigit Pura, HGTV designer John Gidding, True Blood‘s Nelsan Ellis, rugby player Ben Cohen, actress Kim Cattrall, The Kids Are All Right director Lisa Cholodenko, DWTS‘s Louis Van Amstel and Mario Lopez, actor and musician Christian Chavez, Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy, and Gbenga Akinnagbe from The Wire. 

Zumanity by Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity performer

Two performers from Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity provided some jaw-dropping entertainment.   A platform with a short pole was placed in the center aisle, and this amazing dancer performed gymnastic moves while balancing on the pole.  He was beautiful.  My photo doesn’t do him justice.

Naya Rivera and the Glee quiz

Naya Rivera conducts a Glee quiz with audience members

Naya Rivera selected two members of the audience for a Glee quiz.   She also auctioned off kisses to benefit GLAAD, and they went for $3500.  One of the winners did a little dance of delight onstage before receiving his kiss.

Naya Rivera auctions off kiss for GLAAD.  Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.com

Naya Rivera and one of the kiss auction winners. Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.com. All rights reserved.

Some of the other highlights for me:  Lisa Cholodenko’s little boy, brought onstage with her when she accepted the award for Outstanding Film—Wide Release.  He was about four years old and completely adorable.  Kim Cattrall’s acceptance speech for the Golden Gate Award, which was funny and passionate.  Social worker and activist Janice Langbehn receiving a standing ovation for her fight to get LGBT families equal hospital visitation rights throughout the United States.

After the Awards, there was an after-party where we had a chance to relax and interact with the attendees.  I’m not much of a party type, so I didn’t stay for long.  I came away from the hotel with a bag of free goodies, some fun photos, a bunch of new programs to watch (inspired by all the folks I met), and lots of good memories.

To see more photos from the event, check out GLAAD’s website.  Watch this video of Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech on YouTube.  His award was presented by Louis Van Amstel and John Gidding, who can be seen at the beginning and end of the video.


Filed under Actors, Television, Volunteer Work

Dream On

I just finished reading Bloodroot by Amy Greene.  It’s one of those books that is going to stick with me for a long time.  Some of the passages are so beautiful I had to stop to re-read them, and I’m not usually that kind of reader.  I put Bloodroot on my reading list because  reviewer Karen Valby at Entertainment Weekly gave it an A, saying ” Greene, who grew up in the Smoky Mountains, captures what poverty looks and feels and sounds like.”  The reviewer failed to mention how Greene describes the smells of poverty.   This book is positively pungent.  We’re told one house reeks of dead rats and sulphur, and quite a few of the characters themselves are pretty rank.  I was actually grateful that I only had to read about the smells rather than experience them myself.  I guess your ability to imagine strong odors will affect your experience of the writing. 

Bloodroot follows several generations of a poor family living in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.  The Lambs seem cursed to repeat lives of intense sorrow and devastating loss, but each new generation grabs at life, loving deeply if not wisely.   I’m not sure if the average twenty-something reader will be able to appreciate Bloodroot.  I know I wouldn’t have understood it when I was younger.  I remember how I looked at my parents and wondered how they could have settled for such small, imperfect lives.  When you’re young, everything seems possible.  And you have all that energy.   These days just getting out of bed seems like a minor victory.  Bloodroot is a book by an author that understands how that feels.  This is Amy Greene’s first novel, and she looks very young in her photo.  I wonder how she got so wise. 

I have one complaint.  The cover of Bloodroot bugs me.  It depicts a girl stretched out on the ground in a lovely green and gold clearing, but her back is arched like she’s lying on a bump.  Maybe that’s symbolic or something, but it just looks uncomfortable.  My back hurts just looking at it. 

Bloodroot by Amy Greene

Last night’s Glee was also about life’s realities and lost dreams.  I watched it because a) I really like Neil Patrick Harris and b) I wanted to check out Jonathan Groff after all the Newsweek controversy over his ability to play a straight character.   Harris was great, and Groff was fine.  I didn’t see anything in Groff’s performance that rang false.  The bonus for me was the Les Miserables song and audition, since Les Mis is my favorite musical.  Oh, and I can’t believe how much Idina Menzel looks like Lea Michele.  At first I thought Michele was playing her own mom in age makeup.  Now, to those who’ve seen Glee more than twice this season, this resemblance is no surprise.  Me, I like a little surprise now and then.

I have to point out that Neil Patrick Harris playing Jean Valjean is completely ridiculous.  Maybe it’s meant to be funny.  Valjean is a man with incredible physical strength, able to lift a loaded cart off a man trapped underneath, able to carry Marius through the sewers.  If Glee wants to bring Harris back, I suggest they show Bryan Ryan on opening night of Les Miserables attempting to carry Marius and getting a hernia.


Filed under Literature, Television

Child Abuse?

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Live with Regis and Kelly in the morning.  I rarely see the whole hour, but the sections I do catch help me to wake up and face the day.  Mostly I live in hope that Anderson Cooper will be the guest host.  So, yesterday on the show they had the craziest segment I’ve ever seen.  A physical trainer who has a baby developed an exercise program using the baby and one of those big inflated balls.  So she’s sitting there with a real live baby. and so is Regis and so is Kelly, and all three of them are bouncing on balls.  The trainer’s baby is hysterically crying.  Regis is attempting exercises on the ball that no man who’s had hip surgery recently should ever try with a live baby.  I’m watching in awe, waiting for disaster.  Eventually someone comes out to exchange babies with the trainer.  Regis manages to avoid a trip to the hospital.  It appears no babies were harmed.  After the commercial break, Regis starts tossing his baby high in the air, but by then his baby has been swapped with a doll.  I imagine somebody got chewed out behind the scenes for deciding that this demonstration was good idea!


While surfing the internet reading about the Gay Actors Debate, I came across a couple of reports that the Glee cast complained to creator Ryan Murphy that they’re being overworked.  There’s no doubt that these are some of the hardest working young people on TV.  When they’re not filming, they’re in dance rehearsals, in the recording studio, or preparing for the summer tour.  It’s reported that Murphy was irritated and dismissive of his cast’s complaints, saying Fox makes the schedule and everybody has to live with it.  There were numerous comments from regular folks who said these kids have nothing to complain about, since they’re earning lots of money and lucky to be working.  My opinion is really a question.  What are the actors unions doing about it?  The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) are supposed to protect their members from being overworked.  They set down lots of rules and guidelines regarding working hours, breaks and time off.  Are these being observed on the Glee set?

One more thing: Mark Harris at Entertainment Weekly wrote a thoughtful editorial about the Gay Actors Debate that really contributes something positive.  It’s well worth reading.

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Pandora’s Box Continued

I have lots of new links to share in the continuing media frenzy unleashed by gay Newsweek journalist Ramin Setoodeh when he criticized gay actors for not being convincing in straight roles.  All sorts of fascinating people have expressed their opinion of Setoodeh and their interpretation of what he is attempting to say.   The fact that nobody can agree on what he is saying in his original article (something I struggled with myself in my previous post) is a clear illustration of the article’s muddled message.

One thing I didn’t mention in my previous post is that I do not support personal attacks on Setoodeh just because I don’t agree with him.   I’m really sorry that he’s been threatened and personally insulted. 

The people who make Glee, specifically creator Ryan Murphy, called for a boycott of Newsweek until they issue an apology for Setoodeh’s piece.  At the same time, Murphy invited Setoodeh to sit down with the Glee writers to share their respective viewpoints.   He hasn’t succeeded in getting an apology yet, but Setoodeh has accepted his invitation to visit the set of Glee.  Here’s Murphy’s second letter.

Meanwhile, over at The Hollywood Reporter, the president of GLAAD, Jarrett Barrios,  and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have written an open letter in support of gay actors.  Their point: “The whole posse of off-kilter anecdotes in “Straight Jacket” seem only to confirm one thing: America is starting to embrace open gay and lesbian actors in heterosexual roles on stage and screen and Setoodeh himself is not yet ready to.”   Hollywood Reporter editor Andrew Wallenstein defends Setoodeh in his commentary.  

Over at The Huffington Post.  Aaron Sorkin posted this opinion, and when several people wrote comments complaining about his use of the term ‘sexual preference’ instead of ‘sexual orientation,’ Sorkin took the time to write an apology to each reader in reply. 

So, over at Vanity Fair, this entertaining piece had still more to add to the debate.  Brett Berk looks back over Setoodeh’s previous articles to illustrate that the Newsweek journalist has been pretty consistent in his opinions.  Berk writes, “Here’s my theory: it seems to me that his real issue is not actually with these or other homos playing straight, but with some deep-seated conflict he has with gay guys that he perceives as being too fey or effeminate.”

I simply don’t have time to read the all of the things being written on this issue.  When would I sleep?  I’m looking forward to reading all about Setoodeh’s visit to Glee, though.  That should be fun.

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Filed under Actors, Movies, Television, Theatre

The Newsweek Pandora’s Box

It’s likely that Ramin Setoodeh is the most hated gay man in the US this week.  He’s the Newsweek journalist who posted this article about gay actors.  Have you read it?  Then read Kristin Chenoweth’s letter to Newsweek in response.  Then read Setoodeh’s response to Kristin Chenoweth and to all the others on the internet who are commenting on his piece.  Now maybe your head is spinning like mine. 

Right up front I will say that I think gay actors can and do play straight characters successfully.  They always have.  Many gay actors are “in the closet” while playing straight parts on TV, in movies, and on Broadway without anyone guessing their sexual orientation.  

What Setoodeh is saying, if I’m reading him correctly, is that once an actor comes out in public as gay, he (or she) is no longer convincing  in a straight role.  If Setoodeh is saying that our perceptions are colored by this knowledge, causing us to see homosexual traits where we didn’t before, then that’s an intriguing idea.  I don’t think he’s saying that, though.   He’s laying the blame on the actors and their abilities.  Look again at what he says about Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises: “But frankly, it’s weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is.”  Or this about Jonathan Groff on Glee: “But on TV, as the shifty glee captain from another school who steals Rachel’s heart, there’s something about his performance that feels off.  In half his scenes, he scowls—is that a substitute for being straight? When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel.” 

So is Setoodeh saying that gay actors are better at playing straight roles as long as they don’t come out?  That their acting skills somehow decline as soon as they let the world know their sexual orientation?  Or is he saying that the only actors who bother to come out are the ones who realize that they’re not fooling anybody?   (I’m definitely not in agreement with any of this.)

Setoodeh attempts to clarify his position in his response to Chenoweth’s letter:  “…my essay’s point: if an actor of the stature of George Clooney came out of the closet today, would we still accept him as a heterosexual leading man?”  If this is the point he’s trying to make, then he hasn’t made it very well.

Part of what makes this issue a muddle is that few people agree on what  exactly ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ characteristics are.   How can you tell a lesbian from a straight woman?  How can you tell a gay man from a straight one?   What about all the people who fall in the middle of the Kinsey scale because sexual orientation isn’t always black or white, gay or straight?  One person may be thoroughly convinced by a portrayal of a straight person onstage.  That same performance may not meet another’s expectations.

As long as questions are being asked, I have to wonder if this article would have been approved and published by Newsweek if Setoodeh wasn’t gay himself.  Should it matter?  I don’t have any answers, just a lot of questions.


Filed under Actors, Television, Theatre