E3: Season 3 of EastSiders Needs You

You should not look for any objective reporting here.  I’m just simply biased. I fell in love with EastSiders five years ago and have been awed by the talent and the dedication and the blood, sweat and tears that Kit and John and their team have put into this series. They’ve been telling the stories they want to tell on their own terms and, trust me, that’s powerful. And rare.

50ac0172a94a3ad3b5d2c714516ef404_original

Image|EastSiders Season 3 Kickstarter

And it’s also why people connect with them. They are real. They are authentic. They are from a singular vision. Too much of “entertainment” is decided by committee. And that’s why the edges aren’t sharp. It’s why the comedy is lukewarm and the drama is tepid. And it’s why we don’t see stories of substance, stories of depth, stories of importance that reflect the LGBT experience in this country. And now, more than ever, we desperately need to tell those.

fe2f076b624fa2c6d1124eb7ef790ba9_original

Image|EastSiders Season 3 Kickstarter

If I’ve convinced one person to give to one of these Kickstarters and convinced another five to sit down and watch an episode, then I’ve changed the world just an infinitesimal bit. And maybe even made it better. See if I’m right about that.

Read some of what I’ve written over the last five years (or not) and then go to www.eastsiderstheseries.com and donate to this Kickstarter.
EastSiders – New Web Series Worth Watching 2012
Kickstart This — “Eastsiders” Needs You 2013
Kit Williamson: Logo Online and the Web Series Renaissance 2013
How to Say Thank You — A Saga and a Case Study in Doing It Right 2013
Why I’m Supporting EastSiders — And Why You Should, Too 2014
Kit and Van and Cal and Thom and … Cassandra? 2014
When Not Shutting Up When You are Told to Shut Up is Important 2014
Kit Williamson on Slut-Shaming 2015
Return to Silver Lake – Long-Awaited Arrival of EastSiders Season 2 Does Not Disappoint 2015
Verdict on EastSiders Season 2: Most Assuredly the Best of the Lot 2015
Emmy Nods for EastSiders 2016

IMG_6911

Cal and Thom live in Silver Lake … and also in my guest room in New Jersey.

‘The Outs’ Creator Adam Goldman Talks Queer Storytelling on the Internet

Here’s a good article from Esquire about Adam Goldman and the second season of The Outs. I haven’t written too much about The Outs, even though it is the series that originally got me hooked into the world of web series in 2012.

I found season one deeply satisfying. I found season two perhaps even more satisfying. The characters felt deeper in many ways and, perhaps naively, I was not expecting Jack and Paul (Hunter Canning and Tommy Heleringer) to be the emotional center, the real beating heart, of the series, even though these two were always my favorite characters.

It’s elegantly written, wryly funny, deathly serious and intelligent. Goldman’s intelligence shines through in every scene. It’s worth a watch on Vimeo for that alone. (But Canning and Heleringer are just lovely!)

Source: ‘The Outs’ Creator Adam Goldman Talks Queer Storytelling on the Internet

In and ‘Outs’

Now, you know I’m biased when it comes to my gay web series’, so this feels a bit like I’m cheating, but…. The first episode of the second season of The Outs is out today and, I’m happy to report, it’s just as good as the previous season.

Adam Goldman and his  tribe of lovelies — Hunter Canning, Tommy Heleringer, Sasha Winters — are back; and delightful guest stars, such as Alan Cumming and Phillip Taratula will be popping up in later episodes. We get Welcome to Night Vale’s Cecil Baldwin in this episode.

It was quite delightful to check back in on these characters this morning and it’s great to see that Goldman is still working in top form. No one writes a perfectly formed gay, barbed epigram quite like Goldman.

Episodes of the second season of The Outs will be released weekly, beginning today, on Vimeo on Demand. The trailer’s above. Highly recommended.

PS — The first time I wrote about this show was back in 2012. Can it be that long ago? Oy.

Emmy Nods for EastSiders

Congrats to the EastSiders crew for their Daytime Emmy Award nominations. The second series, which debuted in October, was nominated in the new category of Outstanding Digital Drama Series. Van Hansis was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Digital Drama for his role as Thom. This is his fourth Daytime Emmy nomination, having been a contender three times for his portrayal of Luke Snyder on As The World Turns.

kit

Series creator/director/producer/co-star Kit Williamson may have had the best reaction, as evidenced by this Instagram post.

I’m glad that NATAS has seen sense and created the digital drama series categories. As we continue to uncouple “television”  from the “television set,” it’s important that we continue to recognize new ways to deliver content.

75

Van Hansis and Kit Williamson in season two of EastSiders.

The content, though, stays the same. Well, let me reframe that thought. Most “entertainment” on traditional television stinks. Much of the best content is coming fast and furious in new delivery methods — EastSiders on Vimeo, House of Cards on Netflix, Transparent on Amazon — and I think while the death knell for traditional broadcast and cable networks has not yet sounded, the plans for the coffin may be being drawn up.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen EastSiders, what is the matter with you? Watch it now.

Finally, here’s some Daytime Emmy trivia for you. Who was the first daytime performer recognized with an Emmy? That would be All My Children’s Mary Fickett in 1972 in a special daytime category at the primetime Emmys. Fickett played AMC matriarch Ruth Brent Martin for nearly 30 years.

Mary-Fickett-Children_320

Fickett in the early years of All My Children.

However, the first person to take home a daytime statue for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama was Elizabeth Hubbard in 1974 for her portrayal of Dr. Althea Davis on The Doctors. Hubbard won an additional Daytime Emmy in 1976 for portraying First Lady Edith Wilson in an NBC special, but astonishingly — and despite eight additional nominations in the category — she never won for her quarter-century of assaying one of daytime’s greatest roles: Lucinda Walsh on As The World Turns.

Soap04b

Hubbard as Lucinda Walsh, one of the all-time greats.

Hubbard played Van Hansis’ grandmother on ATWT. She’s nominated again this year as Outstanding Actress in a Digital Drama, for her role in Anacostia, the web series co-written and co-produced by Martha Byrne, who played Hubbard’s daughter and Hansis’ mother on As The World Turns.

You can use all that next time you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!

Kudos, Van

Someone has bestowed one of the coveted Groovy Awards for Web Series Excellence on EastSiders star, Van Hansis for his portrayal of Thom in the second season of the series. Van was named, Grooviest Actor in a Drama. I just can’t argue with that. At all.

Van Hansis as Thom opposite Kit Williamson in EastSiders.

This is the second time this trophy (?) has been lain at Mr. Hansis’ feet. Read all about it here.

What I’ve said on the subject. Twice.

2015 in Posts

It didn’t really surprise me that you decided to read what you read in 2015 on this blog. It pretty much follows a pattern that’s been set over the last several years. I am, however, strangely fascinated by certain posts that have incredible sticking power, year after year.

Here’s the Top 10 List, starting with the most-read post. (And thanks, by the way, to the tens of thousands — I can’t believe I’m not making that up — of readers. I am truly blown away.)

1. Return to Silver Lake: Long-Awaited Arrival of EastSiders Season 2 Does Not Disappoint, Sept. 2015
2. Verdict on EastSiders Season 2: Most Assuredly the Best of the Lot, Oct. 2015
blog-eastsidersFar and away the most read stories this year were my reviews of the second season of Kit Williamson’s great web series, EastSiders. I’m glad they were and I hope they drove at least a couple of people to the Vimeo site to watch. At the end of these six episodes I am so much more impressed with these folks than I ever thought possible.

 

3. Congrats, Freddie Smith, DOOL, on Emmy Wins, Inclusion, April 2015
blog-freddiemmmyJust a short piece on Freddie’s well-deserved win at the Daytime Emmy’s this year. My DOOL WilSon fans don’t disappoint! I found the investment of the actors in this storyline so important and Freddie, in particular, embraced Sonny from the jump. It’s a shame it’s not there any longer.

 

 

4. Finnish Soap’s Gay Storyline Finds International Fans Thanks to YouTube, January 2013
blog-salatutThis one slays me. It was written three years ago and was the most-read story in 2013 and 2014. For 2015, it got knocked down a couple of pegs. If you search “Finnish soap” and “gay” or “gay storyline,” this comes up in the top two or three results. I didn’t think of it then, but I should have tagged the show’s title, too. Oh, well. Live and learn!

 

5. Kiss Me, Kill Me, Watch Me, September 2015
blog-kmkmA quick review of the David Michael Barrett-penned, Casper Andreas-directed gay noir film, which I thought was a terrific watch and said so. I hope those who have seen it around the country on the festival circuit think so too. It premiered at Chicago’s Reeling LGBT film festival the same week as EastSiders season two landed, both starring Kit Williamson and Van Hansis.

 

6. Thanks, Petteri Paavola, April 2015
blog-petteriSee #4. This was a short piece referencing that piece when actor Petteri Paavola, who figures prominently in the LGBT storyline on the Finnish sudser Salatut Elämät decided to take a sabbatical from the show. It cracks me up that now if you Google him, this piece ranks on page one of the results (at least in the English results)!

 

 

7. The Hourglass is Empty: Why Killing Will Horton Ends Days for Me, October 2015
blog-guyWhen Days of our Lives stupidly killed off legacy character Will Horton it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. It was bad enough to erase a culturally very important LBGT storyline off the map, but to monkey with the legacy of the show? No. I quit watching. Many readers felt the same. This late-in-the-year piece is still pulling in readers who, one assumes given the comments, are also still ticked-off at the direction of the show.

 

8. Hasta Luego, Mr. Smith, August 2015
blog-freddieA quick thanks to Freddie Smith when he left Days of our Lives. He was the best performer on daytime since Van Hansis in my estimation and his exceptional talent is sorely missed.

 

 

9. High School Same-Sex Couple is Prom-Bound Internet Sensation, June 2013
blog-promkidsThese guys are nearly out of college now, I think! However, this one keeps bubbling up. I looked to see if it got the most views around prom time, but no, people are searching for this year-round. Another example of the lightning fast changes happening on the social landscape. This was NEWS — in all caps — two years ago. Today, not really. As it should be.

 

10. Just Us Guys, Just a Little Bit Meta, May 2015
blog-justusA riff on Chris Lilly’s web program about a teenager and his gay dad shot as a vlog. I liked the premise and I liked the leads (Scott Hislop and Skyler Seymour) and said so — though in the first iteration I misspelled Hislop’s name and was appropriately shamed. I fixed my mistake as I was boarding a plane, which was a comedy show all it’s own!

 

Other things of Note
Three pieces in the top twenty focused on LGBT issues in daytime drama and were written in prior years:
11. Like Sands Through the Gay Hourglass — Ticked Off at American Dramas. Again, Nov. 2012
12. I, Do: The WilSon Wedding, Playing the Long Game and Celebrating the Zeitgeist, April 2014
19. More Sands Through the Gay Hourglass — Revisiting and Revising, June 2013
And one piece focused on LBGT issues on pay television, namely between HBO’s Looking and Showtime’s Shameless, which, I think, is the best thing going:
17. Shamelessly Looking for Something Else: Real Talk About Pay TV Gays, March 2015
I also liked, Love Songs (in the Key of Gallagher): Wrenching Coda to Another Perfect, Discordant, Improbable Season of TV’s Best Show, April 2015, but it didn’t get much play. That’s fine. I’m happy with base hits.

Where Are You?

Here’s a map of where my readers came from in 2015:

2015COUNTRIES copy

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. Germany
  6. Brazil
  7. Russia
  8. Netherlands
  9. Australia
  10. Ireland

Finland came in at #12, obviously wanting to find out if the rest of the world was still following “Elias’ Story” on Salatut Elämät!

There were also:

22 visits from Romania
15 visits from Puerto Rico, which, last time I looked was not a separate country, but….
15 visits from Iraq
  2 visits from China
and one visit each from 27 other countries including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Krygystan and Cambodia.

I am certain that if anyone would have told me when I started this blog on a whim in 2012 that I would have readers in 111 countries and would have met so many interesting people — so many of whom have had amazing, insightful, extraordinary things to say — I would have told them that they were utterly nuts.

Thanks for this visits. Keep on reading. And if you do like something, please like it or share it or comment on it so that I know you’re out there! All the best for 2016 and beyond!

Verdict on EastSiders Season 2: Most Assuredly the Best of the Lot

You might want to read about the first part of the second season first. Here.

I noticed on one of those ubiquitous Internet listicles that “don’t judge a book by its cover” is No. 8 on the list of “Most Common Idioms in English.” Who knew, right?

It’s like EastSiders. There’s nothing overtly grand about the title. Nothing astonishing. Nothing wow-inducing or cringe-worthy or provocative. I mean, there’s the no-space thing, but that doesn’t compel viewership. It’s just a title. It’s really not that meaningful. It tells me nothing, really. It certainly doesn’t tell me to watch.

And while it doesn’t, I am. I most assuredly am.

Up On The Roof: Van Hansis (Thom) and Kit Williamson (Cal) in a contemplative moment in the fifth episode of season two of EastSiders, which may be the most meaningful and compelling moment in the entire series. I could watch these boys work off of one another all day long.

I also may have exhausted my arsenal of superlatives in describing the first three episodes of the second season, but they all apply here again as well. The tapestry that Kit Williamson originally created with such a deft and delicate hand surprises you in the ways in which the threads spin out, how they weave back together and how they ultimately form a fabric whose unique warp and weft is tight enough to perfectly balance the stories that play out upon this canvas.

The hallmarks of the entire series have been smart writing, terrific acting, deft direction all in service to breathing life into a story that desperately needs to be told in spite of mainstream entertainment’s refusal to do so. And that indie subversiveness in service to being disruptive to the status quo is really the best bit for me.

Meanwhile, the back three episodes that we’ve been anxiously awaiting a couple of weeks for are funnier than the initial trio but are overflowing with the same heart and genuine exploration of the human condition that has since the beginning set this series apart from the rest of the pack.

Here are just a few highlights of these three for me:

std

Jonathan Lisecki’s droll Francis takes down a sexual history profile of Kit Williamson’s Cal during a hilarious visit to the STD clinic in season two, episode four of EastSiders.

The Visit to the STD Clinic. You don’t get a lot of laugh-out-loud depictions of what happens when you get VD, but this one is right up there at the top, thanks in large part to the employees of the clinic, played to perfection by Matthew Wilkas, Jenn Harris and Jonathan Lisecki from Lisecki’s film Gayby (also a great watch, BTW). I have a theory that everything is made better if Lisecki has a couple of minutes in it.

And while I have absolutely no experience with STDs or visiting an STD clinic, the absurdity of the entire process and the emotions of the characters felt entirely real to me.

The Gallery Opening. Lennon Parham steals the show in a deadpan turn as gallery owner Carmella. And that’s hard to do as she’s competing with the return of Traci Lords as Cal’s drink-loving mother, Val. Parham’s line readings had me screaming. Also, I’m a continuity freak and I appreciate a little bit of nuance, so I was just over the moon when Carmella called Cal, “Kiddo.” Such a perfect little grace note.

9006353

Stephen Guarino and Willam Belli explore different territory as Quincy and Douglas’s relationship deepens in season two.

Cal and Thom on the Rooftop. I’m really not sure how Williamson came up with this scene. He’s perfectly right about it all. Was it a guess? He’s too young to have had these revelations himself, right? I mean, it just stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to rewind and watch it again. It just shows such life wisdom. Maybe I’m making too much out of it, but it certainly proves how incredibly stupid and/or naïve I was at his age. It’s lovely. And exposes every raw emotion that Cal is having — forever questioning, is Cal — plus it ends with a macabre suicide joke. What’s not to love?

Quincy and Douglas. Williamson has pushed both Stephen Guarino and Willam Belli as performers here. Often they both do the top-level humor — and very, very well, I might add — but there are more layers here and both really rise to the occasion. When scenes could merely be a set-up to a punch line, Williamson adds depth and subtlety making the duo mine some unexpected emotions. There is a surprising amount of character growth, proving hilarity and warmth do, in fact, mix well and when you least expect it, the characters emerge multi-faceted, “like a zirconia.”

10654953_1535887386648474_1658368856_a

“Calvin, I want to be here for you in your time of need.” Brianna Brown as Hillary, seen here with Williamson, is a beautiful and hilarious force to be reckoned with in season two.

Hillary. If I’m honest, the actor in season one who was new to me but who wowed me the most was Constance Wu. This season, it was Brianna Brown as Cal’s free spirit of a sister, Hillary. I just fell head-over-heels as soon as she arrived with a potted gerbera daisy and an armload of old-fashioned suitcases and by the end of her initial epic three-minute epistle, I was a believer and by her obsessive message-leaving on the paddle boat, I was a disciple.

Ian and Jeremy. John Halbach has the daunting task of trying to appear that he is playing against type while actually playing exactly to type. First season Ian was loveable; maybe even a bit of a pushover. Second season, post-break-up Ian wanted to, you know, assert his masculinity. “You’re a puppy dog,” says Vera (Vera Miao) the power-lesbian-who’s-using-Ian-for-sex. “I’m a full-grown dog,” he counters. “A mean one.” But she doesn’t believe it and neither do we, as much as Ian, the good guy who thinks he wants to be bad, thinks he wants us to. Ultimately, Halbach’s innate Midwest wholesomeness shines through as Ian decides to reconnect with a person who will be just as much of a challenge as Kathy was, but probably will be a lot more fun. [No spoilers, people.]

Meanwhile, throughout the entire season, Matthew McKelligon’s Jeremy has played out his story on seemingly a separate plane from that of Cal and Thom. As he fumbles through his new maybe-possibly-a-relationship with pediatrician Derrick (Leith Burke), the trio’s life intersects in an unexpected way before at last crashing headlong into one another in the final episode.

In the end, EastSiders ends right where it should. Stories come to a resting place, but, mercifully, are not tied up in nice neat bows. Characters are not assured a happily-ever-after. Lives continue to be led. Mistakes continue to be made. And the people who are thrown in your path for you to love are still being thrown there for a reason, whether you know the reason or not.

“Where are we going?” Cal asks Thom on the roof at the gallery opening.

“I don’t know,” replies Thom.

“Exactly.”

So, do we need to know where we go from here? I don’t think so. I’m just glad we got here in the first place — and opened the book because, covers be damned, this is one helluva good story.

EastSiders season two is now available exclusively on Vimeo On Demand. Wolfe Video will release the series on DVD and across additional digital platforms beginning Nov. 3.