Christopher Sean and Seeing More Asian Men On Television

Excellent interview with Christopher Sean on BuzzFeed:

The Actor Who Is Changing How We See Asian Men On Television.

Sean has been making waves on daytime television as a spanner thrown in the works for Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis, the first gay married couple on NBC’s Days of our Lives. Sean is a terrific actor and has terrific chemistry with both Freddie Smith and Guy Wilson, who play Will and Sonny. I think the introduction of Sean has reinvigorated the Will and Sonny storyline and has created an additional cheering section rooting for Sean and either of the guys, but especially Sonny.

Eric Sheffer Stevens (l) joined As The World Turns in its last year on the air as Dr. Reid Oliver. His pairing with Van Hansis' Luke divided audiences between those who wanted to see the electric pairing of Stevens and Hansis and those wanting a happy ending for Luke and his former love, Noah, played by Jake Silbermann. Reid Oliver's death was central to the plot of the show's finale, though it did not satisfy many viewers.

Eric Sheffer Stevens (l) joined As The World Turns in its last year on the air as Dr. Reid Oliver. His pairing with Van Hansis’ Luke divided audiences between those who wanted to see the electric pairing of Stevens and Hansis and those wanting a happy ending for Luke and his former love, Noah, played by Jake Silbermann. Reid Oliver’s death was central to the plot of the show’s finale, though it did not satisfy many viewers.

Something similar happened in the now-iconic Luke/Noah pairing on As The World Turns. When the writers introduced Eric Sheffer Stevens as Dr. Reid Oliver, his chemistry with Van Hansis as Luke Snyder was palpable and it upset the fandom applecart in quite unexpected ways. In fact, ATWT’s headwriter at the time, Jean Passanante, noted that if the show had not already been cancelled that the actors’ chemistry could have easily led the writers to create a longterm romantic triangle. By the time the show came to an end — in qintessential soapy fashion when Reid was killed by a train but lived long enough to make sure his heart was donated to save the life of Chris Hughes (don’t ya love it! LOL) — the Nuke (Noah and Luke) and the LuRe (Luke and Reid) camps were already being drawn up.

Christopher Sean as Paul Norita on Days of our Lives. Sean plays a former professional baseball player who is wreaking good-looking havoc in the relationship of iconic couple Will and Sonny. |Image: Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed

Christopher Sean as Paul Norita on Days of our Lives. Sean plays a former professional baseball player who is wreaking good-looking havoc in the relationship of iconic couple Will and Sonny. When Paul came out to his Japanese grandfather on air, he spoke to him only in Japanese.|Image: Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed

On Days, Sean’s recently out ex-pro baseball player Paul Norita, has already slept with Will, saved Sonny’s life and it looks like he’s about to be exposed as Will’s grandmother’s stepson! Oh, did I forget to mention he’s Sonny’s ex as well? It’s a lot of soapy froth and I get a kick out of it. Sean’s chemistry with Smith was noticeable from their first scenes and Team WilSon (Will and Sonny) and Team PaulSon (Paul and Sonny) are already getting their standards made.

I am a hardcore member of Team WilSon, but I do love what Sean brings to the table. He’s a great addition to the cast and I love that he’s moving the needle on bringing more hues to a too-white canvas. And, dammit all, he is NOT hard to look at either!

Team Gallavich

I hope to God you’re watching Shameless, the knockout Showtime series that is halfway through its fifth season on the premium cable network. If you’re not: start.

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Noel Fisher (with gun) and Cameron Monaghan play improbable couple Mickey Milkovich and Ian Gallagher in the Showtime series Shameless. The couple’s fans use the portmanteau “Gallavich.”

Shameless, based on the long-running U.K. series of the same name, tells the story of the Gallagher clan of Chicago’s South Side. Led by alcoholic single dad, Frank (William H. Macy), the Gallagher children have mostly raised themselves, with the help of oldest sibling Fiona (Emmy Rossum) acting as surrogate parent in place of actual mom, bi-polar Monica, who comes and goes as the mood strikes.

This is a brutal show. This is a comic show. This is a bleak show. This is a whip-smart show. And this show is often hard to watch. It’s about the most astonishing thing on television right now. And what drives it for me is the relationship between Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) and neighbor Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher).

At the beginning of the series, teenaged Ian comes out to his older brother ‘Lip,’ and soon begins a relationship with Mickey, scion of a family that makes the Gallaghers look normal. Actually, relationship is entirely the wrong word. What Ian and Mickey do is have sex. Often brutal, often carnal, often animalistic, but love doesn’t enter into it. Mickey, at this point, may not even be capable of love. Ian is, however, and he slowly begins to fall for Mickey.

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Ian and Mickey after getting beaten up in a bar fight by Mickey’s father after Mickey comes out in Season 4 of Showtime’s “Shameless.”

Cameron Monaghan and Noel Fisher have tremendous chemistry and their performances have grown throughout the show. It’s been terrific to watch these young actors sink their teeth into this dense, layered material and see what they do with it.

Through twists and turns and near-death experiences, Ian and Mickey’s relationship slowly begins to shift. Ian slowly begins to change Mickey and Mickey slowly begins to realize that he is capable of love, of caring for another man, of loving Ian, but he doesn’t know what to do with that. It is information that he can’t process. He couldn’t even say the word gay in reference to himself, even though he was desperate for the physicality of the tenuous bond with Ian.

Season 4 is lovely because Ian keeps making demands of Mickey and each time Mickey refuses before almost immediately acquiescing and at the end of the season, Mickey finally comes out, announcing to the patrons at the local bar, “I want everyone to know, I’m fucking gay. A big old ‘mo.” He does it because Ian was going to walk away. He did it for love, to protect the one thing that he loved in the world, the one person who dared to love him. And then he immediately got beaten to a pulp by his father.

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Gallavich fans have created astonishing fan art. This piece is by Steorie.

But, Mickey was free and, because this is Shameless, his happiness lasted basically until the next morning when he awoke to Ian’s descent into the bi-polar abyss, a gift from his unstable mother. When he learns from Fiona what is likely wrong with Ian and that Ian may need to be hospitalized, Mickey is adamant: no hospital. He will take care of him. The tables have turned. It is now Mickey’s turn to be the strong one because, thanks to Ian, he now knows what it means to love and be loved.

Again, it’s Shameless, there’s no Pollyanna-ish moments coming. In Season 5, Ian’s bi-polar disorder makes him spiral further and further out of control. Finally, at the mid-point of the season, Mickey realizes that Ian needs more help than he can give him and he and Lip and Fiona convince Ian to commit himself. Like everything else, expect Shameless to confront mental illness head-on and without, well, shame.

Watching Mickey say goodbye to Ian and let him go into the mental hospital will simply rip you apart. Noel Fisher gives one of the most raw and most truthful performances I’ve ever seen on television in that scene. He’s utterly magnificent.

Back in Ye Olde Timey Times, the theatre where I worked was the most prolific producer of the plays of George F. Walker in the U.S. George is a Canadian playwright. He writes savage plays, hilarious plays and plays with characters that you never see on stage. He always said he wrote about a group of people he called “the articulate poor.” These are people, he said, that exist in every corner of the world, but we don’t put them onstage. And if we do, we seldom understand their reality or their needs. Just because you don’t have money, George argued, doesn’t mean you don’t have big ideas, dreams, knowledge, desires, wants. (George is the reason that I unequivocally believe Shakespeare was a glover’s son from Stratford-upon-Avon and not that bullshit about the Earl of Oxford.)

He also said that his characters never have subtext because the poor don’t have time for subtext. Everything is right here, right now. Only the rich can recline and ponder. And perhaps what I love most about Shameless is that there is no damn subtext. It’s all: right here, right now, what the fuck is that?, Jesus Christ move already.

The back six of the 12-episode fifth season begins to air on Showtime on March 1. You should watch it. I will be; right down front in the #gallavich section.

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Hey, Y’all! Shut up and Crawl Back Under that Butter Dish Please

Paula Deen Compares Struggle To Michael Sam’s Coming Out As Gay.

How many times can this crazy old woman screw up while trying to apologize?

It’s one thing when you are honest-to-God contrite. It’s another when your apologies are just bullshit. I think this is the latter.

If she had said, “that football player” or that “football player who just came out as gay” but “that black football player who recently came out?”

Paula, honey, you ain’t learned a damn thing.

Where’s my favorite all-time Paula Deen image? Oh, here it is:

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HLN Announces the End of Journalism

Meme: Dave Franco and Zac Efron’s Homoerotic Handshake, HLN Announces the End of Journalism, “Pushing Daisies, The Musical”? – thebacklot.com.

HLN announced that they were abandoning their programming to become a social media focused network. And some of their shows will make you weep for journalism. I Can Haz NewsToons will serve up animated satire of current events, One.Click.Away will scour online classified for big buys, while Keywords is a game about searching and tagging trivia from the online world. Can somebody check and see if Ted Turner’s head exploded?

So, do you want to know what stupid looks like? Here it is. This is obviously some 50-year-old’s idea of how to attract 20-something social media users to engage with TV. Speaking as a 50-year-old (almost) IT’S THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS THAT’S NOT STARTING A WAR!!

Why? Why are corporations so stupid? Do you really want to engage young people? Turn your damn cable channel back into a NEWS CHANNEL and then — here’s a shocker — broadcast the news!

I Want My GayTV — Web and Broadcast Series Line Beginning to Blur

(Jan. 7, 2014) — Tonight, the cable channel Logo will air a movie-length compilation of the series EastSiders. [Check your local listings, but it looks like 11:30 p.m. in the East.]

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

Kit Williamson and Van Hansis star as Cal and Thom in “EastSiders,” which is seeing its cable premiere tonight.

So, what’s the significance of this — other than the fact that I’m a fan? Well, I think it’s because the series is at the vanguard of blurring the line between Web-based entertainment — the quality of which is seen often (and wrongly) as “less than” — and traditional broadcast/cablecast TV. Logo seems to be tentatively dipping its toes into the Web world to see what they can mine for their network. (The show was released originally on Logo’s website, after the first episodes premiered on YouTube.)

Down the TV Rabbit Hole
I’m actually not among the ones who think that a television deal is the end-all-be-all of the entertainment world. In fact, I tend to think that networks are looking to the Web for content because they are running scared — scared of the death of cable monopolies, scared of the death of cable bundling, scared of the increasingly small numbers of corporate parents, which tends to have a negative effect on diversity and innovation.

I mean, let’s get real, it’s great that Logo is out there, but it’s owned by one of the most powerful entities in the entertainment world: Viacom. And it does not exist because of any altruism; it’s because Viacom saw a niche where they thought they could make some money. Not making any money? BAM! You’re the next Discovery Health Channel.

It’d be great if the creators of EastSiders could tap into a bit of that corporate money to make a second series (or more), but not at the price that corporate tentacles usually bring with them.

Still, watch, if you’ve never seen it. It’s a terrific example of a program made independent of studio money or interference that’s simply just better than most anything you’ll find on a major network. It’s one of the first, of what I hope are many, programs to showcase different voices and points-of-view.

It’s Awards Season
It is. I know this because the New York Times on Sunday helpfully included and entire special section in the newspaper. One of the awards not helpfully included were the Third Annual Groovy Awards for Web Series Excellence.

There were a few outliers, but generally EastSiders and It Could Be Worse took home the most, er, …. well, I don’t know what groovy thing you get — statuettes? trophies? certificates? Starbucks gift cards?

Anyhow, here’s a rundown:

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Van Hansis, Kit Williamson and John Halbach of EastSiders.

Grooviest Drama Series: EastSiders
Grooviest Actor in a Drama: Van Hansis, EastSiders
Grooviest Supporting Actor in a Drama: John Halbach, EastSiders
Grooviest Supporting Actress in a Drama: Constance Wu, EastSiders
Grooviest Guest Star in a Drama: Sean Maher, EastSiders

It Could Be Worse received the following in groovy achievement:

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Wes Taylor, star and co-creator of It Could Be Worse.

Grooviest Comedy Series
Grooviest Gay Series
Grooviest Actor in a Comedy: Wesley Taylor
Grooviest Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Adam Chanler-Berat
Grooviest Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Alison Fraser
Grooviest Guest Actor in a Comedy: Audra McDonald

It Could Be Worse is the brainchild of Wesley Taylor and Mitchell Jarvis and fast-established itself as a member of that rarified position occupied by EastSiders, The Outs, Whatever This Is, and Husbands known as “Belongs on TV if TV Had the Balls to Produce It.” A second season is currently in production.

Meanwhile, I have to say, it’s an egregious slight not to include EastSiders creator and star Kit Williamson on the “groovy” list. He’s just as groovy as Van — and I’m not even being paid to say so!!

Watching a lot of TV not on TV

Back in May, I reported that I was fed up with television and was giving up the habit. Well, I did it. Sort of. I did jettison my cable so that I only have the super bargain basement basic cable just in case I need to know what’s going on locally, but other than that I just do not bother.

I get the vast majority of my television from Hulu and Netflix and YouTube and the handful of series I watch on the Web. Google’s somewhat-clunky-but-still-revolutionary Chromecast has eased the transition significantly, I have to say. Here are a few things that have grabbed me lately:

EmmerdaleEMMERDALE — American dramatic serials only wish they were in the same league as this powerhouse from ITV in the U.K. Airing six times a week (twice on Thursdays), Emmerdale is a half-hour drama about the most interesting village in Yorkshire. Fires, floods, famine, good-guys-gone-bad, bad-guys-gone-good, lesbians with children, snarky old people, elder-abusing ex-priests — you can find them all having a pint down the Woolpack. If I don’t watch, I start to twitch. Nowt better, as they say in the Dales. (Tonight, an evil bastard is going to burn down Moira Barton’s farm and this time it has nothing to do with her taking up with village shady character Cain Dingle. Oh, it’s a cracker, this one!)

Pramface Series 2 PRAMFACE — This smart and funny offering from BBC3 tells the story of Jamie and Laura. He’s a 16-year-old who has his first sexual experience at an end-of-term party with a very drunk 18-year-old on her way to university. And, of course, she gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. From that hackneyed premise, comes a simply lovely, hilarious comedy about class, about age, about finding your own path, and about listening to others. The first two series — 13 total episodes — are on Hulu. A third series has been shot and set to air in the U.K. in 2014. Highly recommended.

Whites_(TV_series) WHITES — Alan Davies stars as Roland White, a chef who is both pompous and potentially past it. Darren Boyd is his ever-suffering sous chef. Set in the kitchen of a restaurant at a posh English country hotel, this BBC offering feels a bit like an update of the Lenny Henry classic Chef! crossed with Ireland’s Raw. The Beeb only produced one season. It’s on Hulu. It’s quite sweet.

Rev_-_main_cast REV. — Tom Hollander plays the titular reverend in this delightful BBC2 sitcom.You know Hollander from, well, every period costume drama produced in the U.K. in the last 20 years it seems. He also plays Hugo Weaving’s lover, Darren, in Bedrooms and Hallways, my entry in the most overlooked comedy of the 1990s competition. Smart and human, this is not your ordinary vicar-out-of-step-with-the-world sort of comedy. It addresses many of the struggles of modern life. It also won the 2011 BAFTA for best comedy. Two seasons are out. A third is to be released in 2014. BTW – watch for Simon McBurney’s fantastic turn as the Archdeacon. Brilliant.

The-Inbetweeners-001 THE INBETWEENERS — Laugh-out-loud funny and often raunchy comedy about a group of teenage boys getting up to what teenage boys get up to — mostly having to do with sex and drinking. But, God, is it funny. I thought I was going to have a stroke, I laughed so hard. American audiences with no knowledge of the English educational system may find terms like “A levels” and “GCSEs” and “Sixth Form College” and “revising” completely and utterly baffling. It might help you to peruse Wikipedia for a minute. For the education references; not for the sex jokes. Well, a working knowledge of “slapper” and “up the duff” and “bell end”  would help, I suppose! On Hulu.

MV5BMTQ2ODgyOTM4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI1ODY3OQ@@._V1__SX640_SY720_ HE’S WITH ME — Web series written by and starring Jason Cicci about a friendship between a gay man and a straight man and their close circle of friends. It spirals out from that premise in some interesting ways. By and large, it’s worth a look, though there is one episode in the middle of the first series (I don’t remember which, sorry) that I thought was a total clinker, but, I liked the characters enough to pick it back up. I’m not sure that it didn’t stray a bit from its intended trajectory, but I won’t fault it too much for that. I really liked the way Cicci (and director Sebastian La Cause) buttoned up the first season. Surprise standout: Ryan Duncan as Benny Costa. You can’t help but love him! Available on YouTube.

holding_video MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES — Fabulous flapper Phyrne Fisher is at the wheel of her Hispano-Suiza as she careens around 1928 Melbourne searching for clues to solve the latest case dropped in her lap. With the help of her companion and maid, Dot, cabbies Bert and Cec, her able houseman Mr. Butler, and to the consternation of Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson, who harbors a bit of a crush on the freewheeling Miss Fisher, who helps herself to lovers and clues, as well as a “gasper” or two, Miss Fisher is to the 1920s as Mad Men is to the 1960s: costume and set and properties design to die for. Essie Davis is sensational in the title role, but I have a soft spot for Hugo Johnstone-Burt as unsure young constable Hugh Collins. The ABC series (Australian Broadcasting Company, that is) is just wrapping series two Down Under, but the first series is on Netflix. Watch it. (Based on Kerry Greenwood’s Hon. Phryne Fisher novels.)

P.S. — Congratulations to HUSBANDS on two Writers Guild Awards for “I Do Over,”  parts one and two, which aired on CW Seed.

Also kudos to EASTSIDERS on nominations for an International Press Academy Satellite award. The Kickstarter-backed series aired on LogoTV.com.

All My Children Gets the Axe Again

It’s not every television series that can boast (?) of being cancelled more than once, but that’s the case with the once-perennial fixture of early afternoon viewing, All My Children. While there hasn’t been “official” official word from the show’s producers Prospect Park (at least publicly as of this writing), tweets from star Debbi Morgan (Angie Hubbard) expressing thanks to fans have been widely circulated and quoted by generally reliable sources such as Michael Fairman On Air On Soaps and retweeted by Cady McClain (Dixie Martin).

(Update: Cady McClain [always a class act, BTW] confirms via Michael Fairman.)

The cast of the "new" All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

The cast of the “new” All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

There’s going to be a lot of snarky fan reaction on the Innerwebs in the coming days and weeks along the lines of:

  • I knew it wouldn’t last.
  • Why couldn’t it have been every day?
  • I didn’t want to watch on Hulu.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my computer, so I gave up.
  • They didn’t have Erica Kane.

And here’s what I have to say about that, quoting that wonderful singer-songwriter Phoebe Kreutzboo frickin’ hoo.

Honest to God. I’m just happy to see someone try to do something differently. I was appreciative of the opportunity, as a viewer, to meet these characters on this new canvas for a while. To have produced 43 episodes in this new format is not a loss, it’s a win. Producers are finding more and more ways to interact with audiences through the Web than they ever have before:

  • Cady McClain made a cool short movie;
  • Freddie Smith, Shawn Christian (DOOL) and company are making a web series;
  • Indie phenom Adam Goldman is producing his second brilliant web series;
  • Broadway’s Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead produce, script and star in a smart web comedy
  • Kit Williamson and Van Hansis (ATWT) starred in Williamson’s exceptional web program….

I could go on and on. But to the naysayers, just remember, small, closed minds have never discovered new worlds, written great novels, played great music, developed cures for disease or launched the next life-changing app. They laughed at Edison, too, you know.

Pine Valley
It was terrific to see folks like Cady McClain and Debbie Morgan and Darnell Williams and Jill Larson in old familiar roles — even the never-count-him-amongst-the-dead Matthew Cowles — but it was even better to watch some terrific new talent like Eric Nelsen and Denise Tontz and Rob Scott Wilson emerge and breath new life into characters whose names, but not much else, were familiar to longtime viewers.

So, again, we write the elegy — and eulogy — for Pine Valley, but we move on, figuring out what’s next and where we’ll be tomorrow and what we’ll tune into then. Something new. And different. The world still turns. Well, as it were.

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Recent Ramblings on All My Children: