Gay and gay-friendly fare has always been a part of SCAD’s aTVfest – and this year was no exception. The event in its seventh year, highlighting current up and coming television programming, brought in a cavalcade of big names.
Chief among those were Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame. They were part of a panel on reality/transformation shows and also screened an episode of their new series, “Get a Room.” The two are aware of the barriers they broke with the original show. “The legacy of ‘Queer Eye’ – whether it’s the old one or the new one – is it’s five gay men going into people’s homes with very good intentions and helping them live a better life,” says Kressley.
Filica concurs. “We are proud of the legacy, and it’s nice to be part of a brand that is still doing well,” he said. Back when the original aired, few LGBT people were on TV. The presence of the fab five really helped acceptance. “When you are on TV, it’s an intimate medium, says Kressley. “You are in people’s living room and bedrooms and they welcome you into their home.” Beyond improving people’s taste levels, the show helped countless people come out after seeing the unapologetically gay cast, says Kressley.
He and Filicia were eager to reunite for “Get a Room,” debuting March 6 on Bravo. ”It’s a show that is about entry level design, with us having fun,” says Filicia. “It demystifies things. You get a sense of the process, and how we do things.”
Also present for aTVfest was Chris Kelly, the first openly gay man to be the head writer for “Saturday Night Live.” His new Comedy Central series “The Other Two” – which he co-wrote, co-produced and directed a few episodes of – is about a brother (a gay man) and a sister, finding their place in life when their younger brother achieves Internet fame. “The main character is an actor piecing together roles, serving as a waiter, and pathetically in love with his straight roommate,” says Kelly. “He is a bit self-hating, uncomfortable in his own skin. Out but not in a healthy relationship.”
Molly Shannon is one of the co-stars of the series, and she and Kelly worked together on the acclaimed film “Other People,” which won the actress an Independent Spirit Award and was based on his own mother’s bout with cancer. “When I met her she floored me – she was so incredible to work with. She is funny and can do big and broad but you can also see the humanity in her. “The Other Two” has just received a second-season pick-up.
Finally, the two actors who played gay in “American Gods” – Omid Abtahi and Mousa Kraish – were in attendance. In the first season, the two shared what was perhaps the most graphic gay sex scene ever seen on TV and are excited to be in the new season on a network that pushes the envelope.
“Starz is great,” says Abtahi. “They have two middle-Eastern characters who are not gay terrorists in a positive light. They went beyond what any other network has done. Even beyond our storyline, they deal with issues like immigration and slavery.” The showrunner of the acclaimed series is gay Bryan Fuller.