The Next Tenant at 221B Baker Street: Sir Ian McKellen

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Sir Ian McKellen at the U.K. premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” |Image via aceshowbiz.com.

My old pal, Sir Ian McKellen, also known as Sir Patrick Stewart’s BFF/X Men nemesis/fellow  waiter for Godot — also Gandalf — is slated to be the next actor to carry the mantle of Sherlock Holmes at the movies. Sorry, the cinema.

The 74-year-old McKellen will play a retired Sherlock who decides to have a crack at one last case. Sir Ian, one of the top actors in the world, is also a cracking nice chap. At least that’s my experience.

No word if there’ll be any Cumberbatch cameos!

Simon Pegg Decries the Need For Bromance

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Pegg, Star Trek’s new Scotty, and his cuddly BFF, Nick Frost, want to know what’s wrong with two guys showing affection. Damn good question.


Simon Pegg spoke with WTF with Marc Maron and decried the idea of a bromance, but for all the right reasons. “You can be affectionate with each other, you can love each other and it doesn’t have to be some – you know, and even if it does turn into something, which it didn’t, then it’s okay… We always sort of flinch at this “bromance” buzzword that’s come up – there’s no equivalent for women, because it’s not weird if women are friends… because of this homosexual terror that straight guys have, it’s ridiculous. Now there has to be this word for it, and it’s crazy. It’s totally sad.”

via Meme: Simon Pegg Decries the Need For Bromance, Sir Elton Takes Us “Home Again,” Is Peter Capaldi The Last Doctor? – thebacklot.com.

‘Harry Potter’ Star: Hollywood Gay Casting ‘Ridiculous’

“If you are a romantic lead, there is a perception — I don’t know if it is true or not — that you will no longer be cast as straight people,” [Jason Isaacs] told the Telegraph. “Even when casting gay roles, there is a tendency to cast straight people, so they are lauded for their transformation. It’s ridiculous. The notion that a gay actor can’t seem like they are in love with a woman on screen is so patently absurd I can’t believe it still exists.”

via Jason Isaacs, ‘Harry Potter’ Star: Hollywood Gay Casting ‘Ridiculous’.

I couldn’t agree more. Of course, I looked at the photo and went, “Who in the hell is Jason Isaacs in Harry Potter?” That’s because Jason Isaacs is this guy:

jason-isaacs-la-premiere-of-bully-01He’s Lucius Malfoy!

I know, right?

Astonishing what a little slap and a blonde wig’ll do for ya!

GLAAD Looks at Gay Visibility in Hollywood Films – thebacklot.com

HollywoodVineGLAAD Looks at Gay Visibility in Hollywood Films – thebacklot.com.

GLAAD has previously released annual Network Responsibility Index reports on LGBT visibility in television, but this marks the first time they’ve provided an analysis of movie studios. And what they found in this first report is not good.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most homophobic place in America is (metaphorically speaking) the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

Ben Whishaw Comes Out: Do We Care?

‘Skyfall’ Actor Ben Whishaw Officially Comes Out As Gay, Reveals He Is Married.

In a statement obtained by the Daily Mail over the weekend, Whishaw’s rep confirmed the actor is gay and has been married to his partner, Australian composer Mark Bradshaw, for a year now.

“Ben has never hidden his sexuality, but like many actors he prefers not to discuss his family or life outside of his work,” his spokesman said Friday night. “Due to speculation, I can confirm that Ben and Mark entered into a civil partnership in August 2012. They were proud to do so and are very happy.”

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Ben Whishaw as Freddie Lyon in “The Hour,” the period drama from the BBC about newsgathering in the 1950s. The Beeb cancelled the show after two series, sadly, but it was great TV. For many in the U.S., “The Hour” was the first real introduction to Whishaw’s many talents. | Image: BBC

There’s part of me that’s happy about this. There’s another part of me that just thinks it’s not a big deal and, frankly, none of my business or anyone else’s.

I’m conflicted, I suppose. I believe that it is so very important for LGBT equality that people realize how many people live their lives vibrantly and openly and how that polyglot makes this a richer world.

But ….

I don’t know if I really need to know who Ben Whishaw sleeps with or is married to. It just has no relevance. He’s a fine, fine actor. He was great in the last James Bond flick, picking up the mantle of “Q” seamlessly from John Cleese and the magnificent Desmond Llewellyn. He was mesmerizing as Freddie Lyon in two seasons of the BBC drama “The Hour” and he was captivating as Sebastian Flyte in a less-than-stellar take on Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited.”

Is he less or more captivating because we know that the performer under the artifice is gay? My belief is that if he’s a fine actor, everything — everything — else is completely irrelevant.

Well, anyway, good on ya, Ben. I wish you, your husband, and your fabulous head of hair all the happiness in the world!

Little Gay Movie Makes Big Splash, Baby – er – Gayby

How A Gay Indie Movie Made A Giant Splash During Pride Week.

Halle Berry, Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, Jason Statham, James Franco and Mila Kunis, and Melissa McCarthy. They’ve all got movies atop the top of the iTunes charts right now. Familiar names and the usual suspect of movie stars. And then there’s… Matthew Wilkas in something called Gayby?

This week, Apple selected the little independent movie as its Movie of the Week on iTunes, giving prominent spotlight and promotion to director Jonathan Lisecki’s comedy about a straight woman, her gay male best friend, and their quest to have a child together.

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Jenn Harris, Jonathan Lisecki and Matthew Wilkas of Gayby, the quirky “half-gay” comedy that’s taking iTunes by storm. | Image: Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal

I’m a natural born cynic. I’m just sayin.’ So, when I first heard the premise of this movie last year, the first thing I did was roll my eyes. Then I watched a trailer, because, well, that takes no investment at all. And I liked it. Then I watched the damn movie.

To my utter shock, I LOVED IT! I just loved every second of it. It’s witty, the actors are great, the direction and writing are tight. Writer/Director/Actor/Gay-of-all-Trades Jonathan Lisecki is utterly and completely charming as the BFF.

I am not surprised it’s gone gaga on iTunes. It’s a fabulous film — and proof, yet again, that the real talent lies with the crowd-funded Indie dudes (and dudettes) and not in the well-heeled hallways of Hollywood.

Kickstarter Responds to Zach Braff Critics

Kickstarter Responds to Critics of Zach Braffs Campaign.| Mashable

Kickstarter has been criticized on and off in recent months for allowing celebrities to use the crowdfunding service to raise money — most recently Zach Braff, who raised more than $2 million on Kickstarter for a follow-up to his movie Garden State. Now, Kickstarter has decided to break its silence and address the issue.

This crap annoys me. It’s a kind of reverse snobbery that gets right up under my fingernails. Why should Zach Braff be barred from crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter? Because he’s well-known? Because he was once on a quirky TV comedy? Because he may have contacts that may get him access to other funds?

I’m calling bullshit on it all.

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Behind the camera, filmmaker and actor Zach Braff. Image: Kickstarter and Zach Braff via Mashable.

Look, who’s going to be the arbiter of who is too famous or too wealthy or too connected to participate on your crowdfunding site? The arguments don’t hold water. If the idea is for the artist to have more control, how does the notoriety (or lack thereof) of the artist in question matter? If Zach Braff doesn’t want to make a movie with studio funds — and studio strings — why is he any damn different from Joe Smith from Flushing, Queens?

One of the Kickstarter guys said earlier that he hoped that [insert name of someone famous here that I’ve forgotten already] wouldn’t run their crowdfunding project on Kickstarter because it might scare off the person looking for $500 to fund her lithography project.

Guess what? That’s Kickstarter’s problem. It’s called marketing. You have to tell people how to raise $500 and tell people how to raise $50 million. OR cap the amount of money you’re going to allow people to solicit. Other than that, shut up already about your enterprise being TOO successful.

PS – The link above also contains a jump to an excellent video with Braff explaining his take on crowdsourcing, social media and interacting with fans.

Daniel Radcliffe Sounds Off On Why British Men ‘Seem Gay’

Radcliffe has been the subject of gay rumors since catapulting to stardom after the “Harry Potter” series.

“The papers used to say I had a gay face, whatever that is, or a gay voice but it simply wasn’t true,” he told the Daily Express in March, according to Pink News. “[But] when you know a gay guy has a crush on you, it’s the most flattering thing.”

via Daniel Radcliffe Sounds Off On Why British Men ‘Seem Gay’.

I love him. He seems so damn, well, reasonable.

Every time I go to the U.K. I think, “Everyone’s so much more likable here than they are in the States.” HA! Probably completely not true, but I do feel more at home ‘across the pond’ in many ways, I must admit.

John Lithgow, the National Theatre, and My Own Name-Dropping Memory of the Best New Year’s Ever

There are about 30 dressing rooms at the National. Some hold up to five people, and a few accommodate just one. They are arranged around a 60-foot-square air shaft, five stories high, at the very center of the building’s sprawling complex. All of the dressing room windows face in on one another. Look out any window at the half-hour call, and you stare right into the windows of dozens of other actors, all readying themselves for one of the three shows they are about to perform.

That cut is from a great article John Lithgow wrote for the New York Times. I’ll link to it at the bottom after I tell you my story about the dressing rooms at London’s National Theatre. Caution: serious name-dropping ahead!!

John Lithgow in his dressing room in London at the National Theater. Photo: Dave Corio/New York Times

John Lithgow in his dressing room in London at the National Theater. Photo: Dave Corio/New York Times

New Year’s Eve: 1997
Four friends of mine and I were in London for a mad week of theatre and touristy fun. One of my friends, an actor, was playing the dual role of Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in a production of Peter Pan in the States. We were going to see a production of the same adaptation in London at the National and the same role my friend was playing in the U.S. version was being assayed in London by Sir Ian McKellen.

And, as it happened, Sir Ian had a connection to the theatre where my friend was performing. On the flight over, my friend, let’s call him Steve, told me that his theatre had given him a press kit and wondered if I knew how we could get it to Sir Ian. (I was working as a theatrical press agent at the time — or as NPR’s Bob Mondello once referred to me in an article: “theatre flack Mark Blackmon.”)

I looked at the information; press kits being a particularly weird specialty of mine. I took out about half of the information and rearranged the rest of it. I handed it back to my friend.

“Do you want to meet Ian McKellen?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “How?”

“Leave that part to me,” I said. “But if I get you in, you’re taking me with you.”

A few days later — the afternoon of the 31st — we were taking a tour of the National. I made sure my friend had the press kit with him. During the tour, I made him give it to me and dove out of line. Then I did the thing that always works in the movies: I kept looking at my watch, looked harried and confused and walked up to a lobby attendant.

“I’m terribly late for a meeting,” I lied, prominently holding the folder as if it contained life-altering information. “Can you point me to the stage door?” He did and I thanked him profusely. (Seriously, I don’t know why I don’t have a Tony Award for Ballsiness!)

I ran outside, around the building, and to the prominently marked stage entrance. Once inside, I thanked the gods that the desk attendant was a little old lady. I was always better at chatting up grandmas than I was at chatting up cute boys, I’m sorry to say! I told her my story, she promised to leave the material in Sir Ian’s dressing room and told me to return after the show and she’d let us know if we could go back to meet him.

That night after the show, Steve and I left our group as soon as curtain call began and ran around to the stage door. Oh, Ian would be delighted to meet us, I was told, just as soon as he dressed. An interminable 10 minutes later, someone came up and escorted us through the rabbit’s warren that is backstage at the National to Sir Ian McKellen’s dressing room.

I’ve met a lot of famous and near-famous folks over the years, but Ian remains in my Top 5 all-time nicest list. We spent about an hour backstage with him. He cracked open a bottle of wine, which the three of us consumed. He and Steve traded Peter Pan stories and Steve tried on Ian’s hook. Ian kept glancing out of the window — just as Lithgow described it — and finally apologized, telling us that it looked like an elderly actor was waiting to meet him in someone else’s dressing room. “I was secretly hoping he expired during the performance,” he said wryly.

We were shown the door and we giddily walked back up the Thames, crossed Waterloo Bridge and caught the Tube back to our hotel, arriving just in time to grab something overpriced from the mini-bar to toast the New Year and recount our adventures to the rest of our group.

Since that time, Sir Ian has starred in some of the biggest blockbuster motion pictures of all time. Often, when someone begins a conversation about Gandalf or Magneto, I’ll ask the question, “Have I ever told you about spending New Year’s Eve in Ian McKellen’s dressing room?”

Lithgow’s story in the New York Times

Soderbergh’s Liberace Movie “Too Gay,” Say Studios

Behind The Candelabra, Liberace Movie With Michael Douglas And Matt Damon, Deemed Too Gay By Studios: Director.

“Nobody would make it,” Soderbergh told The New York Post of his new movie, which stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. “We went to everybody in town. They all said it was too gay.”

Soderbergh, whose credits include “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Traffic,” as well as last summer’s smash “Magic Mike,” said he was “stunned” by the response.

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Michael Douglas plays Liberace and Matt Damon is his lover in Steven Soderbergh’s new movie, “Beyond the Candelabra,” which airs on HBO.

 

I love Steven Soderbergh — all the way back to Sex, Lies and Videotape days — but I’m shocked that he hasn’t realized that the most homophobic place in America is Hollywood.

This is why, shamefully, so many actors are afraid to come out: they fear they’ll never work again. Crazy frustrating.

I just watched an interview with Cheyenne Jackson — amazing talent and gorgeous to boot — who said that he’s sure he’s lost parts because he’s very open about who he is. That’s just sad. And wrong.

And one last thing before I head off to punch a wall: It’s a movie about Liberace. What did you expect? We were going to butch it up?