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• Clue Crossover on Fox
[E!'s Watch with Kristin; July 25, 2007] Do you remember that Vanished show with Gale Harold from last season that vanished from the airwaves? I hear that the mystery from that show is going to be resolved on Bones this season. Fabulous, yes?

• The Hot 100 List
[; July 23, 2007] News Flash: People magazine doesn't cater to gay men. Every year they decree the "Sexiest Man Alive," and more often not, we're left scratching our heads over the selections. So following in the footsteps of our sister site (which created their own Hot 100 list last month in response to Maxim's annual list), we at took it upon ourselves to see what would happen if we asked gay and bisexual men — and gay and bisexual men only — to vote for their favorite fellas. Thousands of votes later, we have the results.

4. Gale Harold
If his passion for Italian motorcycles hadn’t almost driven him to financial exile, Gale Harold might have never become our own Brian Kinney on the groundbreaking Showtime series Queer as Folk. Harold started his glorious career when he met Joan E. Scheckel, soon thereafter starring in several theater based roles. Gale grew up in a devoutly Christian household and, thankfully, found his way to us from the "dirty dirty" — better known as good old Atlanta, Georgia.

14. Robert Gant*
Out actor Robert Gant won our hearts as the hunky Ben Bruckner in the hit Showtime series Queer As Folk, playing Michael Novotny’s older love interest and partner. He’s also played other roles intended for gay audiences, such as Billy’s father in short film Billy’s Dad is a Fudgepacker. While he's a talented actor, he’s also a smartie — he attended the University of Pennsylvania for undergraduate school and went on to Georgetown Law. Gant, along with Chad Allen and Christopher Racster, is a proud co-founder of Mythgarden, an independent filmmaking company dedicated to producing entertainment that both challenges and inspires. Robert Gant will surely continue to do both.

34. Randy Harrison*

86. Peter Paige*

• Filmmaker focuses on ethical dilemma
[Times Colonist; July 16, 2007]

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

I couldn't help but think of Al Pacino's famous line, as aging mobster Michael Corleone in The Godfather III, during a chat with Maureen Bradley the other day about Pants on Fire, her new short film that began a five-day shoot in the Cedar Hill area yesterday.

Bradley, a lapsed Roman Catholic, is going back to church for the first time in years this week.

She'll likely be flooded with memories once she enters the hushed, hallowed confines of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the charming little Catholic church on Old Esquimalt Road that is doubling as a key location.

"I was a good Catholic girl. I don't practise these days, but it had such an impact on my psyche," said Bradley, recalling her days as an altar girl at Montreal's St. Ignatius of Loyola church.

"They needed servers during funerals, so I'd get pulled out of class to serve a funeral," she recalled. "It's not necessarily the most positive thing for a kid to be doing."

Maybe not, but growing up Catholic gave Bradley an artistic foundation she's building upon.

"When I first saw that guy on the cross, I thought to myself, 'I want some of that [status or power],'" says Bradley, emphasizing that her droll parable is not a condemnation of the church.

The film, which Bradley, 40, is directing from her own screenplay, focuses on Miriam, a devout, precocious eight-year-old Catholic girl about to make her first confession. The title refers to the penance she decides to give her father after she catches him with a skin magazine. She believes it will save him from damnation, since he won't repent.

His sin isn't just about having impure thoughts. When she confronts him in front of her mother, he also lies about it.

"How do you talk about this business?" asks Bradley. "What happens when your dad lies? It's an uncomfortable place to be."

Set in the 1970s and shot on 16mm film with funding support from the CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers and the B.C. Arts Council, Pants on Fire is semi-autobiographical. When Bradley was a child, she caught her dad in a "white lie" when he denied owning a naughty magazine that he accidentally left on a bus.

"I didn't light my father's pants on fire, though," she adds with a laugh. "I wasn't quite that bratty."

Although her film is laced with humour, like its cartoonish climax, it conveys a serious message.

Bradley says Miriam's Christian righteousness is a metaphor for "the practical flaws of monotheism." She says the film is also a subtle anti-war allegory and addresses the challenges children face as they grow into morally ambiguous adulthood.

"Sadly, it seems the root of most wars are religions with one God -- Christianity, Judaism and Islam," she observes. "Buddhists aren't usually the ones trying to kill each other."

Bradley says it wasn't until she was able to let go of the "need to be right" that she felt liberated.

"There's so much righteousness but what we're reading in the New Testament isn't necessarily what people are practising," she says, wondering aloud how many churchgoers take the time to think about prayers rather than just reciting them.

Bradley, president of CineVic and a film professor at UVic, appears to have had some divine intervention.

She has been blessed with a dream cast. It includes Thea Gill (Queer as Folk), shooting her first film here before moving to Los Angeles; Dean Wray (Da Vinci's Inquest); eight-year-old newcomer Grace Vukovic; and UVic theatre department instructor Jan Wood as a nun.

Local special-effects wizard Bill Mills (I, Robot, The Pledge) is also coming on board work his F/X magic and do stunts. He'll fall down a home's front steps with his pants on fire, and create burning effects augmented by CGI from Race Rocks Digital.

The film, produced by Sandy Mayzell and Stacey Horton, will also shoot on a heritage bus and at a Dallas Road pond.

Bradley, who lived in Vancouver and Regina before moving here three years ago, has dozens of films, TV productions and art projects to her credit.

They include her "unforgettable" stint in 1992 as a director-videographer for two seasons of CBC-TV's weekly series Road Movies. She describes it as "boot camp -- eight kids, eight cameras, shooting anywhere and everywhere."

Other noteworthy accomplishments include her short films Go Dyke! Go, which won awards at the Austin and Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals; Forever, a Best Experimental Film/Video at Chicago's Reelings Festival; and Queer Across Canada, winner of a Best Short Film/Video prize at the Santa Barbara Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

She also took part in the Women in the Director's Chair at the Banff Centre for the Arts, worked on the CTV series Corner Gas in 2004 and has had videos screened at New York's Museum of Modern Art and international festivals.

Then there was the gruelling 18-month gig editing 150 karaoke videos for keen young filmmakers.

"It was actually pretty fun. They'd tell me about their vision and I'd go, 'Dude. It's karaoke, OK?'"

Bradley says she's still attached to short-form filmmaking: "I don't have the patience for features."

Inspired by her experiences in Regina's fledgling independent scene, she still roots for the underdog.

Her current passion is encouraging development of indigenous projects here.

"There are lots of folks in the movie business here who are working, but there's not much of an indie scene. I hope we can build that.

"Big shows come in, local people get skills and then they can go play with their friends."

• Outfest's Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is out on the town
[LA Times; July 12, 2007] Born out of frustration, it has evolved into a celebration: Outfest's Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is turning 25 today. It is the city's oldest continuous film festival and one of the largest gay and lesbian film festivals in the world.

The star-studded, 12-day event opens tonight with "Save Me," a film about redemption starring Robert Gant (our cover guy), Chad Allen and Judith Light, and by the time it's over, will present more than 250 features and shorts to an estimated 50,000 people, along with outdoor screenings, bands, panels and a "Dreamgirls" sing-along. Plus parties, lots and lots of parties. "The gays like to be together," jokes Kirsten Schaffer, Outfest senior director of programming and operations.

But for all its revelry, Outfest has never been a lightweight. "The festival was created in protest in 1982, by graduate students at UCLA who were fed up by the de facto mainstream blackout on our lives," says Stephen Gutwillig, executive director of the nonprofit Outfest organization. "There had never been a gay and lesbian media/film conference in the country," says Larry Horne, one of those grad students, "and we thought it was high time to have one."

Robert Rosen, then director of the UCLA film and television archives, agreed to be their faculty advisor. They gathered film critics and historians such as Vito Russo ("The Celluloid Closet"), and screened three features and some short films at the 280-seat Melnitz Hall over a weekend.

The opening feature was "Making Love," written by UCLA graduate Barry Sandler. It is seen as the first studio film to portray gay characters in love, and in a positive light, rather than as psychos or jokes. At the time, it was considered career suicide even to portray gay characters on film or TV.

In the last quarter-century, critical and commercial successes that include "Will & Grace," "Brokeback Mountain" and "The L Word" have altered the landscape somewhat, and, according to Gutwillig, "Outfest deserves some amount of credit for helping change that climate. We are a gay and lesbian festival in the heart of the entertainment industry, and that impact can't be underestimated."

That first small event at UCLA was so successful, it soon outgrew its origins and moved off campus by 1987. Horne had become the first official festival director, guiding it for 12 years. Now a consultant for nonprofit arts organizations in New York, he says the biggest obstacle in the early days was getting the larger community to take the festival seriously. "I knocked on the [Directors Guild of America's] doors for three years before they let the festival happen there," he recalls.

But the community came around, and when the festival was welcomed into the brand-new DGA building in 1989, Horne says, "there was this feeling that we had arrived."

The DGA has been a festival location for almost 20 years now, abetted by other venues throughout the city. Downtown's Orpheum will host two galas, including the opening night party and screening of "Save Me." The movie, set in an "ex-gay" ministry, is part of the five-film series titled "Queers in Christ."

David Courier, co-director of programming, came up with the idea for the "Christ" series. "Each year I look for the major theme of the festival and this year, without a doubt, it was the intersection of religion and homosexuality — and more specifically the volatile intersection between Christianity and homosexuality. We received so many films that spoke to this theme," Courier says. "If people think this series is controversial, that's awesome as far as I'm concerned. Controversy breeds consciousness and action."

In the mainstream

In a sign of the slowly but surely changing times, "Save Me" has additional crowd appeal in that two of its leads, Allen and Gant, are openly gay — still a relative rarity for Hollywood actors. (They are also two of the film's producers.) For Gant, who played professor Ben Bruckner in the Showtime series "Queer as Folk," Outfest holds a special significance. For years, while out to those in his private life, he had been professionally closeted. During that time, "There was a subconscious fear that kept me apart from Outfest," Gant says. Then in 2002, while onstage at the Ford Amphitheatre for the closing night gala, Gant came out publicly to the crowd.

"It was really powerful. I got a standing ovation. But it wasn't really so much about me as it was representative of that moment of any individual finding the courage to step into their truth," he says. "So Outfest from that moment has taken on a huge, vital place in my mind and heart."

As much as Gant wants the film to reach a broad audience, "there's nothing really as satisfying as showing it to our fellows; it's almost like family night," the actor says about opening the festival. Adds Allen: "When you're a filmmaker or an actor, or anyone who's working in entertainment who's out and wants to see our stories get told, it's so cool to be a part of Outfest — to see what everyone's doing and encourage each other."

Allen credits his longtime Outfest attendance with inspiring him to make films like "Save Me" in the first place. For Outfest doesn't present only what's being produced, it produces filmmakers.

C. Jay Cox, an attendee since 1990, considers Outfest hugely influential to his career. Up until Outfest, "I thought if you're going to be a filmmaker the studio system is the only option," says Cox, whose first short played there in 1993, followed by his first feature, "Latter Days," a love story between a Mormon and a party boy, in 2003. He's also the director of this year's closing night gala, "Kiss the Bride," the first film to emerge from Outfest's screenwriting lab, for which Cox is a mentor. This year, the lab is holding screenplay readings during the festival. Other new offerings include Boom!, a live music showcase intended for the community's younger members. "We're building a second festival, like a queer South by Southwest," says Schaffer, referring to the popular film and music festivals held in Austin.

Full circle

In looking to the future, Outfest is taking steps to preserve its past. The organization has partnered with UCLA Film and Television Archive to create the Legacy Project, devoted to the preservation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender — or LGBT — titles.

For Rosen, now dean of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, the university and Outfest have come full circle — with some notable differences. "Twenty-five years ago, one of the reasons for having the festival was there was so little in the mainstream that dealt with gay and lesbian filmmakers or subject matter. Now we have thousands of titles in the collection, and it's worthy of restoration and preservation as part of the culture."

The first restored film, "Parting Glances" (1986), by the late Bill Sherwood, will be presented at the festival's Legacy Project Gala. The film is also one of Outfest's "25 Films That Changed Our Lives," a list compiled for the silver anniversary.

Like other early films, "Parting Glances" reflected the devastation that AIDS wrought. Films then also portrayed the wrenching experiences of coming out to friends and family. In the ensuing years, LGBT films began moving beyond such territory to explore the full range of human experience. The coming-of-age story will always have its place, as it does in mainstream fare, but now there are stories in which being gay is not the point. A prime example: Outfest's awards gala film, "Itty Bitty Titty Committee," in which the film's lead character becomes empowered as a radical feminist; her sexual identity is not at issue.

"We're seeing a lot of genre films, gay horror movies and mysteries and sports movies," says Outfest's Schaffer. "And the movies keep getting better, which is to be expected but not taken for granted."

The fest is taking time to appreciate some positive work in the mainstream media as well. "Brothers and Sisters" and "Ugly Betty," TV shows that feature LGBT characters, will be the subject of panels featuring cast and crew members. In both shows, the attitude is joyfully out, with no underlining or apology.

"LGBT communities are no longer primarily outsiders, our noses pressed against the glass of a media world that ignores or debases us," Gutwillig says. "But we still have a long way to go."

• Gay films tackle new topics in Outfest's 25th year
[LA Daily News; July 12, 2007] It's no accident that Outfest 2007 will open Thursday with "Save Me," a movie starring Chad Allen, Robert Gant and Judith Light that explores a relationship that develops between two men in an ex-gay Christian ministry.

The 25th annual Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is anchored this year by a "Queers in Christ" series of films, beginning with "Save Me," which debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The series also includes the documentaries "For the Bible Tells Me So," about whether homosexuals are welcome in the kingdom of God; "The Believers," about the world's first transgender gospel choir; and "We're All Angels," about the gay Christian pop duo Jason and deMarco.

Movies with a message

"Save Me" director Robert Cary says his and the other films are well-timed because of the polarizing debates over religion and sexuality that currently rage in America. He says this environment is why he wanted to make a film that explores the topic fairly.

"It's about something that's critical to our country right now," says Cary. "I think the hope in making 'Save Me' was to actually get as far in without having the audience know if this film was made by a Christian person or a gay person. I had hoped to create something that was a balanced portrayal."

But films with predominantly Christian themes make up just a small fraction of the 235 movies from 26 countries that make up this year's festival and will screen at nine different venues Thursday through July 23.

The lineup includes the drama "The Curiosity of Chance," the romantic comedy "Kiss the Bride," the documentary "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother," the comedy "Out at the Wedding," various short programs and the restored gay classic "Parting Glances." There is even the first gay surfing film ("Shelter").

"There is no such thing as the queer genre film," says David Courier, Outfest's co-director of programming. "This year we have a gay sci-fi story, gay horror thrillers and even a couple of crime dramas."

New stories for a new era

"Save Me" producer Christopher Racster says the variety of genres and diverse topics are proof that 25 years into the festival, audiences are hungry for films that reflect their lives today.

"The audiences are more sophisticated and don't want to just see coming-out stories anymore," Racster says. "People expect more and they expect broader themes. How do we reflect younger people's loves? They don't live a gay ghettoized life and don't expect to."

While the male-driven films typically get more attention, Outfest has balanced its program with many lesbian titles including the comedy "Itty Bitty Titty Committee," which will screen on the festival's awards night as well as "The Doctor's Daughter," "Out at the Wedding," "Nina's Heavenly Delights" and "Tuli."

"I am impressed by the caliber of filmmaking and the diversity of subjects tackled by the filmmakers," says Outfest senior director Kristen Schaffer. "The stories are refreshing, entertaining and meaningful. They demonstrate how much this community has grown in the past 25 years while laying down the foundation for the next 25."

Let's make a deal

The festival, which also hosts more than 40 parties, is also business for filmmakers and distributors — giving low-profile movies a chance to be discovered and possibly distributed either theatrically or on DVD.

"For our network, Outfest is more important than Cannes or Sundance," said Paul Colich-

man, chairman of here!TV and producer of "Gods & Monsters" and other films. "It's not only the films but about the filmmakers, the actors and everyone involved. It's a chance for us to see the greater GLBT community at work. The talent pool is profiled so well at Outfest. Better than anyplace else in the world."

• Golden Globe Nominee and Emmy® Award Winner, Tom Skerritt, Angus Macfayden and Karine Vanasse Star in Killer Wave, an RHI Original Miniseries Premiering on ION Television August 5th
[Press Release; July 11, 2007] RHI Entertainment, the global leader in the production and distribution of groundbreaking movies, miniseries and series for television, announced today that Golden Globe Nominee and Emmy Award® winner, Tom Skerritt (Steel Magnolias, Picket Fences, Brothers & Sisters), will star in Killer Wave, a four-hour miniseries event premiering on the RHI Movie Weekend on ION, Sunday, August 5th (7/6c). Airing all in one night, the miniseries features Angus Macfayden (Braveheart, Alias, Saw 3), Steven McHattie (A History of Violence, Seinfeld) and Karine Vanasse (Head in the Clouds, Set Me Free).

Killer Wave is an action-disaster miniseries about a conspiracy theory regarding the manufacture of fear for profit. In the story, a large corporation hatches a scheme to devastate American cities on the East Coast with the intent of winning a multi-billion dollar contract from the government to build a sea wall along the eastern seaboard. Marine engineers John McAdams (Macfayden) and Sophie Marleau (Vanasse) try to find the perpetrators of these “natural disasters,” but they have to evade both the FBI and paid assassins chasing them. Meanwhile, the rogue corporation’s CEO, Victor Bannister (Skerritt), and his trusted advisor, Edgar Powell (McHattie), have devised the “creative destruction” plan as a means to save their company from bankruptcy.

Killer Wave was filmed in more than 45 locations throughout Canada during the summer of 2006. The miniseries was directed by Bruce McDonald (Queer As Folk, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and executive produced by Robert Halmi, Sr. and Robert Halmi, Jr. (Arabian Nights, Human Trafficking, Merlin).

“Killer Wave is the perfect first miniseries premiere event for ION television,” said Robert Halmi, Jr., President and CEO of RHI Entertainment. “It’s completely the type of larger-than-life production RHI is known for and will continue to bring to the RHI Movie Weekend on ION.”

“We’re excited to kick off the initial wave of original content with the aptly titled Killer Wave,” said Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Media Networks. “We're looking forward to building on our partnership with RHI Entertainment to broaden our lineup with exciting, high-quality programming, which we’ll support with our 90-million-home reach.”

Last fall, RHI Entertainment and ION Media Networks announced a new partnership, a prime-time destination called RHI Movie Weekend, whereby RHI would serve as the exclusive television programming supplier on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for an initial two-year period. The relationship kicked off on the weekend of June 29th, with a digitally re-mastered edition of the critically acclaimed Lonesome Dove, which is airing on four consecutive Saturday nights. RHI expects to debut five additional original movie premieres on ION this year.

• Gant, Doherty Play Spy Games
[Queerty; July 10, 2007] You wouldn’t know it by their imdb pages, but Shannen Doherty and Robert Gant are starring in a new here! network spy thriller, Kiss Me Deadly: A Jacob Keane Assignment. Kiss us, here!! We’ve been waiting for this exact thing: a gay cable television spy movie series - yes, there are more - starring our favorite Queer as Folk hunk and that dastardly Ms. D!


Here (!) is the rundown: Gant plays the Jacob Keane, a gay former spy turned photographer living in Milan with his boyfriend and three daughters, all of whom were birthed by a lesbian pal. Sounds perfectly progressive, right? Right.

Unfortunately, Doherty’s Marta (no last name, very mysterious) pulls him back into the spy games. She needs a bit of a hand help finding the villainous Vigo, played by gay actor Ian Roberts. Apparently he’s threatening their families, or something. You know what this all means? Loads of running around, a billion confused looks and a gun fight or two. And some intrigue. Probably.

here! founder Stephen P. Jarchow had this to say about the ejaculation-worthy television event: “We are excited to bring the spy thriller genre to the LGBT community with the Kiss Me Deadly.”. Wow. What an endorsement! Miraculously, Jarchow manages to work up more praise when he describes Gant as “talented and openly gay” - which are both true - and calls Doherty “dynamic” - which is code for either “bitchy” or “bankable”. Or both.

No date on when we’ll all get to see this miraculous television moment, but we’ll keep you posted. Literally.

• Hollywood Privacywatch
[Defamer; July 10, 2007] Sunday July 8: Gold's Gym: Robert Gant from Queer As Folk, who was very smiley and seemed like a nice man. No I'm not his publicist.

• The Big Screen Scene
[National Ledger; July 09, 2007] Controversy is unavoidable for anyone making a film involving two men who fall in love while in a Christian therapy program that attempts to make gay men go straight. However, Judith Light tells us, when it comes to "Save Me" -- on which she served as a producer as well as playedhe program director -- "The Christian community has been so open, acknowledging and welcoming to us.

"We all believed it was essential not to vilify these people in any way, and we worked to find the balance," adds the "Ugly Betty" and "Law & Order SVU" actress of the film, which opens L.A.'s Outfest film festival Thursday (7/12), and also stars Chad Allen with Stephen Lang and Robert Gant. Light notes that originally, Craig Chester wrote "Save Me" as a comedy, but "we just felt we wanted it to have a different bent." Her husband, Robert Desiderio, wrote the screenplay, along with Chester and Alan Hines. "The whole process took 11 years."

• Robert Gant and Shannen Doherty to Star in here! Networks’ New Spy Franchise
[Press Release; July 09, 2007] here!, America’s premium gay television network, is pleased to announce the wrap of production on Kiss Me Deadly: A Jacob Keane Assignment, the first installment in the Jacob Keane Assignment series of original, feature-length spy thrillers. Kiss Me Deadly stars Queer as Folk alum Robert Gant and television icon Shannen Doherty. The film, directed by Ron Oliver and written by George Schenck and Frank Cardea, shot in New Zealand last month.

“We are excited to bring the spy thriller genre to the LGBT community with the Kiss Me Deadly,” said Stephen P. Jarchow, Founder and Chairman, here! Networks. “With the talented and openly gay Robert Gant and the dynamic Shannen Doherty, Kiss Me Deadly is an exciting addition to our original programming slate. We welcome this opportunity to flex our company mandate of embracing talented actors and creating memorable gay characters for our audience.”

Jacob Keane (Gant) is a photographer living the family life in Milan with his loving boyfriend, Paolo, and Julia, the daughter he shares with his lesbian friend, Kyra. When a young woman, Marta (Doherty), arrives from his past life, he is pulled back into the high-stakes world of international espionage. Together they must elude a mysterious enemy threatening to disrupt their now-quiet lives. Out actor Ian Roberts (Superman Returns) co-stars as the villainous Vigo, while John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings trilogy) plays the heroic Yale, a former colleague of Jacob and Marta.

Gant is best known for starring as Ben on the hit Showtime series Queer as Folk. In addition to his acting duties, he recently formed the production company Mythgarden with partners Chad Allen and Christopher Racster. Mythgarden recently produced its first film, Save Me, in which Gant also starred. Save Me screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. Off screen, Gant remains active in the LGBT community working with Senior Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH).

Doherty, who made her breakout in the film Heathers, starred for four years on the hit Aaron Spelling series Beverly Hills, 90210. She followed that up with rolls in the films Almost Dead and Mallrats before landing a gig on the popular UPN series Charmed, co-starring Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs. Most recently she starred with Gina Gershon, Randy Quaid and Robert Wagner in the CBS thriller Category 7: The End of the World.

Kiss Me Deadly continues here!’s commitment to provide quality original programming for its discerning LGBT audience. For a sampling of provocative and innovative here! content, visit the here! Video Player found at For more information on how to subscribe to here!, please visit or call the toll free number at 1-888-HERE-NOW.

Recent and upcoming here! original films, series and specials include: The DL Chronicles, an award-winning series focusing on the diverse stories of men of color who by consequence and by choice, live sexually duplicitous and secret lifestyles; The Lair, a provocative and sexy vampire horror series; Dante’s Cove, ranked “Best Soap of the Year” by The Advocate; the critically acclaimed Shock To The System: A Donald Strachey Mystery, the second installment in the series of original films starring Chad Allen as a gay private investigator; the provocative six-part docu-series Lesbian Sex and Sexuality, an unblinking look inside the world of lesbian culture from award-winning producer Katherine Linton; and the original film Shelter, an indie romantic drama about love, family and trying to stay true to yourself.

• Summer theater steps out of NY
[; July 06, 2007] Musicals, comedies and classics traditionally lure summer theater tourists to the box office as they escape the heat of Gotham for the mountains and the shore in the Northeast.

But commercial producers this season also will be looking to bring shows back to New York as souvenirs as they mix business with pleasure in search of fresh summer awakenings.

After last summer's well-received "The Burnt Part Boys," from the frosh season of composer William Finn's Music Theater Lab at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, Mass., a new slate of tuners in the Berkshires is again thinking young.

"Calvin Berger," an American high school take on "Cyrano de Bergerac," kicked off the trio of shows June 26. The musical preemed in Massachusetts at Gloucester Stage last year, with book, music and lyrics by Barry Wyner. Stephen Terrell stages and choreographs.

Another multihyphenate, Kirsten Childs, best known for "The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin," gets a workshop with her latest, "Funked Up Fairy Tales." The Kevin Del Aguila-helmed work, billed as "twisted takes on classic tales," runs July 31-Aug. 11. "The Pig Prince" becomes "K-Pig," "Tamelin" becomes "Tammy Lynn in Her Trailer Park" and "Rumplestiltskin" is now "Mista' Skin."

In what may be the most intriguing adaptation of the season, the third entry is by the "Burnt Part" team -- a workshop of "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick," based on the elliptical illustrated children's book by Chris Van Allsburg and beginning perfs Aug. 21. Chris Miller pens music to Nathan Tysen's lyrics, with script and staging by Joe Calarco.

Premiering in Williamstown, Mass., July 25 after an earlier Gotham workshop is the tuner "Party Come Here" on Williamstown Theater Festival's second stage. Christopher Ashley will direct the show about sex, spirituality and miracles on a hot night in Rio. Book is by Daniel Goldfarb ("Modern Orthodox"), with music and score by David Kishenbaum ("Summer of '42"). Malcolm Gets and Hunter Foster star.

Elsewhere, the Williamstown lineup is a traditional mix of classics and preems, shuffling a roster of marquee names on both sides of the footlights.

The fest opened with B.D. Wong solo starrer, "Herringbone," directed by Williamstown a.d. Roger Rees; and the preem of "Dissonance," a drama about the collision of rock and chamber music, starring Daniel Gerroll and Alicia Witt. Kathleen Turner will helm a revival of Beth Henley's Southern strange-sister comedy, "Crimes of the Heart," Aug. 8-19, starring Sarah Paulson, while also in August, Rees will star in "The Physicists."

The world preem of "Villa America," July 11-22, takes a look at the '20s lifestyle of Gerald and Sara Murphy and their chic literary pals.

Other actors appearing include Richard Kind (mainstage season opener "The Front Page"), Kate Burton (playing opposite her son in "The Corn Is Green") and Allison Janney, Elizabeth Franz and Mamie Gummer ("The Autumn Garden").

Over at the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., the spotlight is on the July revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" with "Terminator" star Linda Hamilton embracing her dark side as Nurse Ratched. Jonathan Epstein stars as Randall McMurphy, while Randy Harrison as Billy Bibbit continues his post-"Queer as Folk" legit trajectory after being seen in "Equus," "Amadeus" and "The Glass Menagerie."

Harrison also returns to the Stockbridge boards Aug. 14-Sept. 1 in "Mrs. Warren's Profession," which has Jayne Atkinson stepping up to the role of the mother with the unsavory past. Also cast are Sara Drew, Mark Nelson, Walter Hudson and Stephen Temperley.

Of note is the July workshop of Rick Cleveland's solo play, "My Pal George," the follow-up by the TV scribe ("Six Feet Under," "The West Wing) to "My Buddy Bill," the first of his proximity-to-presidents musings.

Vivian Matalon is gambling that theatrical lightning could strike twice in his "Morning's at Seven," beginning perfs July 31 with Anita Gillette, Debra Jo Rupp and Joyce Van Patten. Matalon helmed the celebrated 1980 Broadway revival of the Paul Osborn comedy.

Other musical preems getting tryouts at East Coast summer venues include the rock opera "Turandot: The Rumble for the Ring," bowing July 10 at Bay Street Theater in Long Island's Sag Harbor. The creators of "The Donkey Show" take on and take off on "Turandot," with original lyrics and book by Randy Weiner, conceived and helmed by Diane Paulus.

Over at New York Stage & Film at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., John Patrick Shanley explores his musical side when the Pulitzer-winning "Doubt" scribe writes and helms "Romantic Poetry -- A Musical Play," with tunes by "Dreamgirls" composer Henry Krieger. "Poetry" runs July 19-29. Pete Townshend's new rock opera "The Boy Who Heard Music" also gets two concert readings, July 13-14.

At Westport Country Playhouse (Conn.), Billy Porter mixes Sondheim with Shakespeare, stirring in an African-American musical twist with the August preem of new revue "Being Alive!"

After helping to foster "Avenue Q" and "In the Heights" in their early stagings, O'Neill Theater Center's Music Theater Conference in Waterford, Conn., will look to strike tuner gold again with a pair of staged readings: the surrealist rock musical "Notes to MariAnne" and "Red Eye of Love." A comedy about America in times of war, depression and economic boom, "Red Eye" will star Cheyenne Jackson, on a brief hiatus from "Xanadu," and Elizabeth Stanley ("Company").

And after last year's less-than-thrilling Los Angeles bow of the tube-to-stage adaptation, Garry Marshall is hoping "Happy Days" are here again. Legit version of his '50s-era feelgood series gets a workshop facelift in August at Goodspeed Musical's second theater in Chester, Conn., prior to opening the Paper Mill Playhouse season in New Jersey, Sept. 26-Oct. 28. Aim is for the new show to hit the road next year.

• The 'Pac' Is Back
[allDay Today's Blog; July 06, 2007]

Peter Depew is living out his childhood fantasy. Growing up in Northridge, California, he spent by his estimation "thousands of dollars" playing Pac Man and Donkey Kong at the local arcade.

"I always thought to myself that when I grew up, I was going to have a small arcade in my own home. That was every kids dream," he says.

Now a 27-year-old former Army captain, Depew has amassed a collection of classic arcade games that would make any 10-year-old green with envy. Space Invaders, Centipede, Donkey Kong, they're all here in his makeshift game room in his three-bedroom home.

"My friends come over and we play for hours, it’s like we're kids again," he says.

Thanks in part to nostalgic gamers like Depew who grew up pumping a steady diet of coins into their favorite machines, classic arcade games are making a big comeback. According to Fred Svendsen, general manager at Golf N Stuff in Norwalk, California, games from the ‘80s are "as popular as they ever have been."

On a recent Saturday afternoon, small groups of teenagers hovered around the Pac Man and Donkey Kong machines at the back of the arcade despite having dozens of newer, flashier games nearby to choose from.

"Sometimes you miss your childhood and these kind of games brings me back to that," said 16-year old Obe Vasquez, as he breezed by level 3 on Pac Man.

The graphics for games like Centipede and Donkey Kong may pale in comparison to today's 32-bit systems like the X-Box or Playstation, but enthusiasts don't seem to care.

"These games are just as exciting and just as freaky as they were back in the day," said comedian and hardcore gamer Hal Sparks. "You still want to win them just as bad."

Others contend that simplicity actually has its advantages.

"When you're playing Pac Man it only takes about 20 seconds to learn," said Mazen Hafez, a Pac Man fan who was trying to beat his high score on a recent Saturday afternoon. "For those modern shooting games, you have to press buttons to reload and then you have to jump to shoot, I mean, I don't have time for that stuff. This is quick, easy and simple."

Nowadays, not only will you find more of these games at your local arcade, but they're also springing up in places you might not expect.

Just last month AT&T announced that they were making Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man available on all their wireless devices and a company called Basic Fun has created miniature keychains that allow you to play classics such as Pong and Centipede while on the go.

This renewed interest in classic games is great for Peter Depew. In addition to playing his favorites childhood games, he's also started his own business,, which sells restored classics to people across the country.

"I'm finding there are a lot of people like me," Depew says with a smile.

Do you have a favorite arcade game from growing up? Let us know— and don’t miss our feature on the return of the ‘80s arcade game Saturday on TODAY.

• Straight Talk
[PageOneQ; July 03, 2007] "Homophobia is largely rooted in the fear that you may become it yourself or that it will take you over without your consent. I've been closer to it than probably any straight guy in the history of entertainment and in the end if I'm still myself; I'm still straight; I'm still me… maybe that takes a bit of the fear away for those people. And they go, 'It didn't turn him gay, so maybe it's not a lifestyle, maybe it is genetic or a choice a spirit makes before it enters the body on a metaphysical level.'" -- Hal Sparks, AKA "Queer as Folk's" Michael


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