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This time last year, Hollywood – as well as the LGBT community – was all abuzz about the lofty number of LGBT programs that were coming to network TV. It was a record high.
A year later, that bubble has been burst. Most of those high-profile shows are now gone, having fallen one by one. CBS’s “Partners” with Michael Urie was canceled quickly. “The New Normal” lasted a little longer but still bit the dust at NBC, which also canned the acclaimed “Go On,” with Julie White in a supporting role as a lesbian.
It’s been 14 years since NBC launched “Will & Grace,” heralded as the first successful network sitcom to debut with an openly gay lead character. The title of NBC’s new gay-themed sitcom sums up the progress since then — in the world of entertainment, gay is now “The New Normal.”
The show, which debuted Sept. 11 and will air at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, is about a gay couple who hires a surrogate to have a baby. Openly gay Andrew Rannells and Ellen Barkin head the cast, which also features “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leaks.
“The New Normal” was created by openly gay Ryan Murphy of “Glee” fame. It’s based on Murphy’s desire to have a child with his own partner.
Featuring a number of openly gay producers and execs, including David Marshall Grant, the new musical TV series “Smash” aims to be just that when it premieres next week. The series debuts at 10 p.m. Feb. 6 on NBC.
Set in the world of Broadway theater, “Smash” stars Debra Messing as Julia, half of a songwriting team who is in now in the process of adopting a child. When her colleague Tom (Christian Borle) talks to her about staging a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, the idea of writing a hit show leads Julia back to the work grind she thought she had put behind her.
As auditions for the Marilyn musical unfold, the top two candidates for the lead role become newcomer Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee), fresh from the Midwest, and Ivy Bell (Megan Hilty), who looks the part and seems a shoo-in for the role. As the season progresses, the producers try to decide which of the two gets the role.
“Well, obviously, I’m not allowed to speak about the legal battles, but I love lesbians.”
— Jennifer Nettles of Atlanta superstar country group Sugarland, responding to this question: “Let’s talk about the legal battles that you had with ex-member Kristen Hall [who is gay], who sued you last year for profits she said she was owed. Did it leave a bad taste in your mouth for lesbians?” (South Florida Gay News, April 11)
“I wish that the success of ‘Queer as Folk’ and ‘L Word’ had spawned dozens and dozens of shows all across the TV landscape that had all kinds of gay characters.”
— NBC Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt, who was honored by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at its Media Awards on April 10 in Los Angeles (Hollywood Reporter, April 11)