Buena Suerte, Chad Allen

Out actor Chad Allen has decided to leave “the business” behind. Allen has been acting professionally for about 35 of his 40 years and now he wants to try something new.

He’s been working as a clinical psychologist of late and is pursuing his doctorate. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise: Allen has long been a passionate advocate for equality, for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and helping LGBT kids. By all accounts, he’s a modest sort and all in all a good egg.

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Chad Allen as hard-boiled gay detective Donald Strachey opposite Sebastian Spence as his partner, Timothy Cunningham.

I have to say, I think my favorite of his many roles was his portrayal of gay private detective Donald Strachey in four made-for-TV movies that aired originally on the Here network. Based on a series of books written by Richard Stevenson, Strachey is something of a pioneer: one of the first — if not the first — out, gay lead character in detective fiction. They are quite good books and Stevenson’s pairing of Strachey with former seminarian Timmy Cunningham is the gold standard by which all other gay couples in genre fiction are judged against.

As Strachey, Allen’s easy-going demeanor was in evidence. He played the character with nonchalance and intelligence and, with Timmy, genuine love and affection mixed with that shot of exasperation that comes when you have been with someone for a very long time. H/T to director Ron Oliver, who helmed this quartet of films, as well.

One grace note, on five episodes of the daytime drama spin-off, General Hospital: Night Shift, Allen played a gay man dying of some mystery illness (I forget what) who falls for his doctor, played by Adam Grimes, who sends him away to find a new liver or some such, so that they could live happily ever after. Or something like that.

Anyhow, most of Allen’s lines were delivered from his hospital bed, but it was a heartfelt performance and, frankly, that was in 2008, and I still remember it.

Good luck and godspeed, Chad Allen. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us.

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P.S. — Do you remember the great series St. Elsewhere? Remember how at the end of its run, Tommy Westphall, the autistic son of the hospital’s director of medicine, was playing with a St. Eligius Hospital snow globe? And it seemed as though the entire series may have all been in his head? That was Chad Allen.

Hermione and Harry?

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Has smart and sexy Emma Watson waved Hemione’s wand and conjured up a ginger prince? Or is it all a bit of rubbish? |Image: Glyn Lowe/Wikimedia Commons

The big old rumor mill is all atwitter — as is Twitter — with the salacious gossip that Hollywood royal Emma Watson may possibly be dating English royal Henry Charles Albert David.

He’s of House of Windsor fame, you know, of course — the cheeky 30 year-old chappy who’s the son of the Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana and fourth — soon the be fifth — in line for the English throne.

There’s no confirmation yet and, frankly, I would rather like this to be false because the “news media” is so ridiculous these days.

Still, we all know Hollywood and we all know that real life comes directly from the movies, so what’s the one thing that we can determine? That’s right: Hermione loves herself a ginger.

The Rumor That Emma Watson And Prince Harry Are Dating Has Shaken Muggles Everywhere.

Ubiquitous End of the Year Roundup: What You Are Reading ‘Round Here

Happy New Year. Looking back at 2014, I have come to the conclusion that, while I try to write about a broad array of topics, it is obvious that people come here to read about three subject areas:

  1. Web Series’
  2. Soap Operas
  3. Gay People

A web-based soap opera about gay people, well, that’s the trifecta, ladies and gentlemen! (Keep reading!)

So, what have I learned? I learned that more people read this blog in 2014 than in years past and I learned that the busiest day on the blog was June 16 and the most popular post that day was Where the Beautiful People Go to High School, which is about a web-based soap with (not entirely, but strong) gay themes. It was also the year’s most-shared piece. More than 2,000 readers shared it on their Facebook pages.

More people commented on I Do: The WilSon Wedding, Playing the Long Game and Celebrating the Zeitgeist than any other story of 2014 and the top referrers to the site were: Facebook, Twitter, will-sonny.livejournal.com, willxsonny.tumblr.com and reddit, followed closely by thebacklot.com. Top clicks included thebacklot.com, YouTube, Kickstarter, stage17.tv and my marketing blog, markblackmon.net.

Visitors came from 112 countries, including 5 people from Qatar, 1 from Armenia, 1 from Mongolia and 54 from the Russian Federation. To be fair, the vast majority of readers are from the U.S. and Canada, but the international reach is quite astonishing, especially since I did nothing to cultivate it. The Worldwide Web is not named hyperbolically!

So, with that long, drawn-out introduction, here is this year’s Top Ten list of most-popular posts.

10. High School Same-Sex ‘Cutest Couple’ is Prom-Bound Internet Sensation
cutestThis one, originally posted in June 2013 had the 10th most views in 2014.

It got a second wind this year; I don’t know why. Prom season, maybe.

I did some quick digging and couldn’t find any updates on these prom cuties. Perhaps, like so many others, they went off to college and discovered new cuties to hook up with. If you know something about them, though, let me know.

9. Saying Goodbye to the First WilSon Incarnation with a Bit of Snark
snarkwsNothing of great import here; just what the title implies. A shoutout is due for “snicks” from thebacklot.com who put these hilarious slides together to commemorate the end of Chandler Massey’s run as Will Horton on Days of our Lives.

Over the last year there’s been a lot of yammering about Days letting Chandler go and recasting the role, but mostly I believe it’s just the Interwebs’ usual stuff and nonsense. If you know the show, though, these are hilarious.

8. Why I’m Supporting EastSiders — And Why You Should, Too
esdr2A screed. A smack in the face. A wake up call. Maybe a primer on how crowd funding and word-of-mouth actually work. This was written at a time when it seemed that, by traditional metrics, the Kickstarter campaign for the second season of Kit Williamson’s bravura web series may not make it to its goal. I figured that I needed to do something. So I yelled a little! Like I do.

Did it help? Doubtful, but they did make their nut and Season 2 is coming soon! So many people have said that this series is so good that it should be on TV. And even though Kit recut the series as a feature length movie that aired on Logo, you won’t find anything this good on television. Nothing this good ever makes it to television. I mean, they don’t call it the ‘boob toob’ for nothing!

7. Wallflowers Returns for a Second Season — No Shrinking Violets Here
wallflrTruth in advertising: I only watched this show because John Halbach asked me to. I thought the first episode was very good and I said so here.

I did one other post about the show during the second season but what I didn’t expect to have happen was quickly to turn into an unabashed fan of Kieran Turner’s series about a band of romantically challenged souls.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch the series in one binge and it may be even better the third or fourth time around. It’s a delight. Nuanced. Crisply written. Witty and smart in all the right places. Warm. And in the final episode? Still surprising. Full of grace notes, this.

Watch it, if you haven’t already. This is my nominee for “Best New Thing I Found on the Web in 2014.”

6. Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra?
vankitThis one ties for my vote in the category of the best thing I wrote in 2014. You may not think so, nor may the judges from the American Academy of Specialty Bloggers*, but I think its good and it’s an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I opened up a little and told a bit of my story, old and creaky though it may be.

Kit and Van are smart and creative and are both on my shortlist of people I would pay to watch read the phone book. It hurts not at all that they are also drop-dead handsome. I love their sensibilities, I suppose. Ones to watch.

5. Actor Hunter Canning Talks ‘The Outs,’ ‘Whatever This Is’
hunttommyThis is just a paragraph. I mean, really, Internets? The linked interview is good, but I didn’t write that; just this paragraph.

One supposes that people are drawn in by this devilishly cute picture of Hunter (right) and his The Outs and Whatever This Is co-star Tommy Heleringer

The Outs and Whatever This Is, both from the mind of Adam Goldman and company, are two more of my favorite web series.

Originally posted in Oct. 2013.

4. ‘Sonny’ Skies or Clouds on the Horizon? The New Normal Comes to Salem
freddieAn early-in-the-year piece that focused on daytime television’s first male-to-male marriage proposal on Days of our Lives. I thought it was a compelling jumping-off point to say something about LGBT representation in the media at large and this storyline in particular.

This hit quite soon after the role of Will Horton was assumed by Guy Wilson and a lot of people were saying nasty things about Guy on social media. Sometimes I wish people would keep their yaps shut. So, I slapped at them a bit and ended up getting a number of positive comments including nice note — maybe it was a tweet? — from Guy. I still think it was a good recast. So there.

3. Where the Beautiful People Go to High School
ydGay. Web. Soap: my blogging sweet spot! HA! A quick little review of the web series Youthful Daze. Proving that you never know what will hit and why, this is the most-shared post on this blog and it was shared more than 1,000 times in the first 12 hours it was up. It’s over double that number now.

It’s a very good series. I was more impressed than I thought I would be, to be honest with you. Bryan James has created a real soap in the best traditions of serials with a lot of, as I put it in the original piece, angsty teens and improbable dramas. I’m glad these types of shows exist and continue to thrive on the web. It makes me think there is a higher purpose to it all than merely showcasing silly photos of cats.

2. I Do: The WilSon Wedding, Playing the Long Game, and Celebrating the Zeitgeist
idoThis piece hit big after the April telecast of the wedding of Sonny Kiriakis and Will Horton on DOOL. It was an outstanding week of programming and it was the first time in my soap-watching memory (and that’s a LOOOONG time) that I can recall a multi-year story arc  tied up so well. It really was this genre at its finest and it didn’t hurt that everyone surrounding the two outstanding actors at the center of the action was a veteran soap performer.

In the months since the wedding, I haven’t felt as enamored of the writing. It’s seemed inconsistent and sometimes downright head-scratching. Still, there was a part of that first arc that so enraged me that I nearly stopped watching, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I do wish the writers were more artful in their plotting.

This is the piece that ties with No. 6 for best thing I think I wrote this year.

1. Finnish Soap’s Gay Storyline Finds International Fans Thanks to YouTube
saltutI published this piece originally on Jan. 4, 2013 and it has made it into the “most viewed posts” list almost every week since and yes, it was the most-viewed post in 2014. That’s the second year.

Go figure.

It’s a quick cut about a gay teen storyline on the Finnish sudser Salatut Elämät. Thanks to the uploader and captioner who goes by the handle missfinlandia88, I still watch these clips from time to time on YouTube. It’s not the greatest soap I’ve ever watched — sometimes it’s downright groan-worthy — but other times it’s pretty good and I enjoy the two leads. Also, I appreciate the fact that while the stories are sometimes a little far-fetched, at least the Europeans have moved past the U.S. in their inclusion of LGBT characters into their stories.

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Anyhow, if you’re still reading, that’s the list. Thanks for reading these for the past year. Thanks for your comments and your “likes” and shares, which tend to be the only way one knows that you are connecting with the world. And thanks for continuing to check in. I started this blog a couple of years ago as a way to talk about things I wanted to talk about. I didn’t expect anyone would care. I was pleased — and shocked — to find an audience and am excited that it continues to grow.

Best wishes for 2015!

*Oh, stop Googling. I made it up.

‘EastSiders’ Creator Kit Williamson | Backstage Actor Interviews

‘EastSiders’ Creator Kit Williamson on the Alchemy of Web Series | Backstage Actor Interviews | Acting Tips & Career Advice | Backstage | Backstage.

Good, quick read, in case you missed it — or — ICYMI, as the kiddies annoyingly text. Can’t wait to see what Kit and his merry band do with Season Two.

Kit Williamson and Van Hansis star as Cal and Thom in the new web series "Eastsiders."  Watch at www.eastsiderstv.com

Kit Williamson and Van Hansis star as Cal and Thom in the series “Eastsiders,” the second season of which is now in production.

Sleeping with Neil Patrick Harris

Have you seen this ad? Too funny. Below is Hilary Miller’s story from Huffington Post. The moral of the story, I suppose, is that EVERYONE wants to sleep with NPH!!

Do you lie awake at night, tossing and turning in your satin pajamas? You just can’t manage to fall asleep, no matter how hard you try? Has it become such a problem that you just want to sing about it?

Apparently, you and Neil Patrick Harris have a lot in common … at least according to his music video promoting Neuro Sleep.

Harris stars in the steamy music video with rapper Problem and singer Asher Monroe to kick off the “SLEEP with Neuro” campaign. The result is a hilariously gif–able two and a half minutes of the “How I Met Your Mother” star swooning over the sleep aid beverage, seductively licking the bottle.

The ad comes as a response to Neuro’s survey which asked customers who they’d most like to have a slumber party with. The company reports that 35% of those they interviewed went with Neil Patrick Harris and Neuro happily granted their wish with the help of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” director Jon Jon Augustavo.

Trying to sleep as well as NPH croons? Neuro is giving away a million bottles of their Sleep elixir. That should guarantee Harris some restorative shuteye as he prepares to end his nine years on “How I Met Your Mother.” Hopefully, it will help us too.

Tales of Hoffman: Mourning, Madness, Misery, Mystery and Melancholy in the Wake of Senseless Death

Philip Seymour Hoffman was a genius. He was a mesmerizing actor on stage and on screen. Talented people stood in the wings and watched him work, their mouths agape.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman.

He died yesterday at age 46. With a syringe in his arm.

That’s because Philip Seymour Hoffman was a junkie.

And that’s not an indictment of the man; that’s a fact. We have seen, all too often, creative geniuses who are drawn to substance abuse and who succumb to its lure. The question that I keep asking myself is why?

What is it that you are trying to escape? What is it that you can no longer endure? What pain is so searing that you crave any release?

I have no answers, it will remain a mystery to me, I guess, but I do know that substance abuse at this level is intensely egomaniacal. It is driven by something — some demon, perhaps — that makes you crave the high. The release. And not care about what happens to you. Or your children. Or your family. Or those who love you.

Hoffman was a shape-shifter; a big bear of a man who won the Academy Award for portraying the diminutive author Truman Capote. And he did this so effortlessly — it seemed — that the audience not only suspended its disbelief, we actually believed that he had become small and fragile before our eyes. That’s the hallmark of a master of his talent. But, as we have seen, that talent does not come without a price.

Today, I don’t know how to feel. Should I be angry at the people who sold him heroin? Should I be angry at Hoffman for giving in to the smack? For dying? Should I celebrate the body of work that he leaves behind? Should I be sad that he couldn’t overcome his demons. And that the demons won?

Life is such mercury: here one moment, there the next, then gone. Melancholia seems the overarching feeling of the day.

How “A Christmas Story” Kept Peter Billingsley Normal

How “A Christmas Story” Kept Peter Billingsley Normal.

A great piece on Billingsley, who, as an adult never went all Dana Plato at it. Also, it’s nice to see him embrace this iconic role. More than embrace it, he’s been a producer on the successful musical that has played on Broadway and across the country over the last several years.

For the record, I’ve seen the musical version twice — in 2012 on Broadway and in 2013 at Madison Square Garden. I love every bit of it.

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Peter Billingsley. |Image: Ramona Rosales/BuzzFeed