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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wishin' & Hopin' Part II

In June of 1993, Chris Isaak performed at the newly revitalized TLA on South Street in Philadelphia. Tower Records just down the street was the focal point for his venture and the employees, especially the young females, were, all of them, titillated at the proximity of the heart throb.

Chris Isaak embodies the ideal of the strong, sensitive and handsome man who seems somewhat sincere, to coin a musical phrase, let alone he can sing and write songs. Perhaps in an attempt to cut through all the excitement the sales representative from WEA, the company distributing Isaak's label, announced that he was gay. Perhaps it was someone simply embellishing a persistent rumour, although there was insistence on visual evidence.

Be that as it may, it may have diluted the female excitement, or not as the case may be, but the possibility that someone of the sex symbol status of Chris Isaak might be gay, put simply and equivocally, fanned the flames.

Mr. Isaak, ever the accessible and gracious rock star, held a meet and greet following the concert; he was selling one of his best albums, San Francisco Days. The best surprise at that reception was that Chris mentioned that his mother was Italian. Of course, he wasn't about to announce that he loved men. The fact that Mediterranean blood coursed through his veins was enough for some attendees to place him on a higher pedestal, although the flames continued to burn. He suddenly became more interesting because he was suddenly more ethnic. Soon the phrasing of Dean Martin became more evident in a reevaluation of his style. Well, maybe. But, immediately the proximity of his music's emotions made more sense. Of course, he was Italian! It's been evident all along. How great for his Italian American fans to find out he was one of them. By the way, Bruce Springsteen's mother is Italian.

Anyway, many times the idea that a major sex god might be gay is just a lot of wishing and hoping. Still the revelation would be a liberating one for those who live their day to day lives both in and out of the proverbial closet. There is absolutely no bona fide evidence of Mr. Isaak's proclivities, unless one happened to speak to the WEA sales rep back then. Still just the idea that might spring forth from one's fantasies is eternally hopeful. It is much more than having one's fantasies come to life, althought that's not half bad. It has much more to do with validation of who and what a person is and having that validation come from the public arena. It also has to do with who does it. No one blinked when K.D. Lang came out and no one would have if Ellen hadn't had a hit TV show. Theoretically if Michael Jordan or somebody like him came out as gay, just imagine ...

There are those who hope that Mr. Isaak is gay. There are those who hope that so many of his contemporaries are, just because it validates their own realities. For that same reason many gay people will insist on and repeat stories of the sexual activities of the well known whether or not those stories are verified. Sometimes even when the stories are verifiable people choose not to believe. It is still very much a dirty secret if not a dirty joke. It's okay to drag Brad, Jennifer, Angelina, Ben and whoever else gets involved in the hetero-go-round through the public consciousness ... still, a sad love story between a fictional Jack and Ennis is a very big deal.

We've been playing the sweetly sad music of Chris Isaak these last three weeks. His early influences were Sanford Clark and Johnny Burnette, exemplars of fictional unrequited love. He is known for sweetly sad songs both lyrically and melodically -- how thoroughly appropriate would his participation have been in the sweet sadness of the love story between Ennis and Jack. Putting their genders aside, it is pretty much what Chris Isaak has written and sung about for the last 21 years or so.

Yet, Willie Nelson will do just fine. His contribution was grandly in tune. And he's thrown in another to boot. No one seems to be unhappy with the profound and appropriate music that accompanied the film that has made such an impact.

The actual impact just might be more about what might have been or could be. "I swear."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Brian Lane Green

... will make you melt.

Tower Records Lincoln Center and Faust Harrison Pianos are pleased to
announce the March schedule for "Any Wednesday at Tower", a weekly series that celebrates the best in cabaret, jazz and Broadway vocalists. Our enthusiastic audiences have been growing each week.

Each performance begins at 6:00 p.m., lasts approximately 30 minutes, and is followed by a signing/meet-and-greet session with that evening's artist. Tower Records is located at 66th Street and Broadway, in Manhattan. The performances take place on the lower level in the vocal/jazz department. Seating is limited. As always, there is no charge for the event. For more information, contact Bart Greenberg at 212-799-2500 x138.

This week on March 1 Brian Lane Green comes in like both a lion and a lamb. This dynamic young performer, a Tony nominee, songwriter and performer, won the audience over last year when he appeared with Lee Lessack. Now he's flying in from California to appear in an evening all his own, based on his album Waiting for the Glaciers to Melt, a collection of his own songs. Brian's work is a mix of poetic reflections and a contemporary sound that is quite intriguing.

This mini bio was posted on Helen's site:

Brian starred on Broadway in Cy Coleman’s, The Life and made his Broadway debut as Huck Finn in Big River. He received a Tony Award® Nomination for Best Actor in the musical Starmites. He starred in the National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well as the first National tour of Big River. His recent regional theatre credits include Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and Marc Antony in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Around the globe Brian appears in concert with The Broadway Tenors and Three Men and a Baby Grand. Green’s many television appearances include roles on Matlock, Murder She Wrote, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Daytime audiences may know Green as Sam Fowler on Another World or as Brian Bodine on All My Chldren. On the big screen, Brian stars in the cult film, Circuit and the comedy, Friends and Family.

He can be heard on Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall (RCA) with the Tonics, Over the Rainbow: The Music of Harold Arlen (LML), Tap Your Troubles Away: A Tribute to Jerry Herman (LML), Grateful: The songs of John Bucchino (RCA) Green’s debut solo CD is entitled, Brian Lane Green (LML).

Making his debut as a playwright/composer, his musical, Waiting for the Glaciers to Melt received critical success in New York City's, Midtown International Theater Festival. Waiting for the Glaciers to Melt was released on LML Music in September 2005.

There's much more to learn about this very talented and striking young man on his own website. Go here. It's an opportunity to hear a beautiful tenor make a beautiful noise.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gay Cowboys and their Children

John Pescitelli, in dark shirt, and his partner, Doug Henderson, with their children, from left, Rebecca, Jeffrey and Annie, at an Arizona Gay Rodeo Association event in Phoenix last month.

Thank you, NY Times.

The New York Times Travel Section

A GAY rodeo cowboy might have been a nonconcept to most Americans before the release of "Brokeback Mountain," which is up for eight Oscars on March 5. But the fact is that roping and riding is a way of life for many real, out-and-proud versions of Jack Twist ...

" 'Brokeback Mountain' has certainly given us more media attention," ... "We've been around for 20 years, quietly enjoying our Western culture and rodeo life. But it's great to get some recognition."

FORT WORTH W. R. Watt Arena, Will Rogers Memorial Center; 214-346-2107; host hotel: Green Oaks Hotel; www.texasgayrodeo.org.
What: T.G.R.A. 2006 Cowtown Rodeo; tickets are $15 a day.
When: March 2 to 5; rodeo contests March 4 and 5.

FORT LAUDERDALE Bergeron Rodeo Grounds, Davie; host hotel: Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel; www.fgra.org.
What: Sunshine Stampede; tickets from $12.50 for individual days to $35 for weekend package and $20 unlimited transportation.
When: April 7 to 9; rodeo contests April 8 and 9.

Arkansas State Fairgrounds; 501-562-4466; host hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites; www.dsra.org.
What: Rodeo in the Rock; tickets $15 a day or $25 for the weekend.
When: April 28 to 30; rodeo contests April 29 and 30.

SAN DIEGO Lakeside Rodeo Grounds, Lakeside; 619-298-4708; host hotel: Four Points by Sheraton San Diego; www.sandiegorodeo.com.
What: San Diego Rodeo; tickets $15 a day or $40 for advance package.
When: April 28 to 30; rodeo contests April 29 and 30.

ST. LOUIS National Equestrian Center; 314-865-2947; host hotel: Doubletree Hotel & Convention Center; www.gwgra.com.
What: Gateway Regional Rodeo; tickets $15 a day or $25 weekend pass.
When: May 5 to 7; rodeo contests May 6 and 7.

Go here for rest of the article

Wishin' and Hopin'


by the XL Capris

She was blonde and she sang so well
Dusty wore her make-up like a shell
Someone said she liked the girls too well
Dusty she sang about boys
What’s a girl gonna do

She could dance and jazz romance so well
Dust kept her breakdown to herself
Someone said she liked the girls too well
Dusty she sang about boys
What's a girl gonna do

I just don’t know what to do with myself
Wishin’ and Hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Dusty she sang about boys
What’s a girl gonna do

The internet of recent has been going on about the rumour that Ang Lee is about to tackle the topic of Dusty Springfield's life, which would make him the king of closet angst after Brokeback Mountain. Charlize Theron would make an excellent Mary O'Brien/Dusty if the casting rumour is true. She is South African and she used a British accent with good affect and to optimum effect on Arrested Development by the way.

Dusty's hauntingly beautiful voice would have endeared her to young gay people even if she herself hadn't been gay. Another appeal was her deep and enduring insecurity and vulnerability.

In the liner notes of her second album (recorded in 1964) the interview initiated on the back of the first album continues there was a small hint:

"What was your greatest handicap in starting out?

"My face and middle-class background.
The upper and lower classes are uninhibited; the middle class is too restricted."

Even in the second half of the twentieth century class consciousness was an important element in the UK, hence the iconoclasm of the British invasion artists. Dusty's rebelliousness would manifest itself in ways other than acknowledging her sexuality. She was expelled from South Africa when she refused to perform before segregated audiences. Much of her art in those days was a celebration of the rhythm 'n' blues she so admired. It was an obvious, logical and righteous decision on her part.

It is unfortunate that she could not apply that assertiveness to her own sexuality. She went into virtual self-imposed exile after stating to a journalist in an almost off-handed way that she was bi-sexual and eventually descended into drug and alcohol abuse and actual physical abuse of herself. Most people still didn't know. She was brought up in an Irish Catholic household and that tradition stayed with her even though her art didn't rely on it.

There is no denying that Dusty is one of the best artists to come out of the Sixties Musical Renaissance. There is no denying that it is pathos and vulnerability that enhanced her status. There is no denying her entrance into that pantheon of gay mythology not because she was politically correct as far as sexual politics are concerned, but because she was one of those creatures like Rock Hudson who created a stage persona that resonated.

Interestingly enough it was the stage persona that she hid behind that appealed to her gay male followers. She was a virtual drag queen. The first two albums depict Dusty simply enough in denim. By the third album La Springfield was in full force as almost a caricature of the continental style. Also interesting is that it was the Mary side of her personality , young, insecure, Irish Catholic schoolgirl, persona that seemed to embody the lesbian.

In spite of her long association with the very obvious and mullet coifed Vicki Wickham, there are still those, even in the music business who don't know that Dusty was indeed a lesbian. Wickham, who seems to have some issues with Dusty's issues, was not her lover but did accept her posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after being introduced by Elton John and celebrated in song by Melissa Etheridge. Wickham did write what has come to be considered the definitive biography of Dusty if not a universally accepted one.

If it is indeed true that Ang Lee wants to film this subject, he will once again depict something hauntingly sad, and in this case very true. In spite of some very valid criticism that the gay community was given another tragic story in his last effort, it is something that needs be addressed.

All civil rights struggles need to address the negative. Demons need to be faced in order to be banished. Dusty's story is riveting in that her suffering was so unnecessary and that her artistry brought so much satisfaction and catharsis to those who loved her.

Wikipedia has a great entry on her life and work -- go here

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday Beefcake

... operating under high nutritional standards, of course.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I Am Spartacus

The We All Have Aids Campaign which launched on World AIDS day December 1, 2005 brings the perfect attitude into the arena where combat has taken place for over two decades.

In the movie Spartacus when all the rebellious slaves were captured and the Roman overseers wanted to punish their leader it was asked who among them was Spartacus. All of them declared themselves to be Spartacus in solidarity with their charismatic leader. “I Am Spartacus” has come to mean “I identify with you.” A similar moment in the movie In & Out met with better consequences when the students declared their solidarity with their gay teacher by declaring themselves to be gay.

It’s what the New York AIDS Walk is all about, viz. declaring solidarity with the HIV+ population.

The Walk will take place May 21st this year and once again, it is hoped that this site and BLOG will be the focal point for some serious fund raising. Stay close and be on the look out for some news very soon in that regard.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Song of the Week

Shadows in A Mirror
written and performed by Chris Isaak

I'm watching somebody's heart break in two.
And wondering if so
mewhere you’re crying too.
Shadows in a mirror tell
me that I'm wrong.
Shadows in a mirror, tell
me that we're through.

I'm watching so
mebody's world at an end.
And wondering if so
meday we'll love again.
Shadows in a mirror tell
me that I'm wrong.
Shadows in a mirror, tell
me that we're through.

Oh and I, I still need your love.
I can't see my life darling without you.

Shadows in a mirror, shadows in a mirror.

I'm watching so
mebody's world at an end.
And wishing that so
mehow we could love again.
Shadows in a mirror tell
me that I'm wrong.
Shadows in a mirror, tell
me that we're through.

Oh and I, I still need your love.
I can't see my life darling without you.
Shadows in a mirror, shadows in a mirror.
Shadows in a mirror.

Planet Out Says:

by Jenny Stewart, Entertainment Editor

Willie's second gay love song?

As if his heartbreaking rendition of "He Was a Friend of Mine" on the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack wasn't enough, country legend Willie Nelson has further elevated his cred in the gay community.

Nelson's new gay song, "Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" made its national debut on the Feb. 14 edition of Howard Stern's satellite radio show.

"The song's been in the closet for 20 years," the Dallas Morning News quoted Nelson as saying. "The timing's right for it to come out. I'm just opening the door."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This is not redundant

Saturday March 11, 2006 Sam Harris brings his Cabaret show to Queens. Buy online at www.queenstheatre.org

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Thousand Words

What Would Jesus Do?

Feb. 27, 2006 issue - DePaul University in Chicago recently announced that it's offering a new "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer Studies" minor. That wouldn't normally turn heads (several universities have similar offerings), but DePaul is the nation's largest Roman Catholic university—and the Vatican's official teaching is that homosexuality is "objectively disordered." "I understand that there's a tension there," says Assistant Prof. Gary Cestaro, the program's director.

go here to read more

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mark Aaron James & Daniel Cartier not dancing

There will be no "Undercover" show this week, but it's the
music of the Kinks next Thursday. If you need to get your MAJ fix, however, (if only I was addictive), you can come out this Tuesday night to Rockwood Music Hall. I will be playing a free show at 11 PM. Former Elton John protege Daniel Cartier is also playing earlier in the evening if you want to make a full night of it. Rockwood is on Allen (1st Ave below Houston), between Houston and Stanton. I know it's late on a school night, but it will be worth it to see my go go dancing. Ok, that's a lie, but still, I will be baring my soul on stage.

Thanks for the continued support.

Mark Aaron James

go here for Daniel

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Marry Marry Not Contrary

Opinions regarding same sex marriage are as varied and diverse as the individuals who support human rights foremost among them Jimmy Carter. What is good for the gander is good for the gander as well as all the gooses.

Centaur Entertainment seems to have the right attitude about all the rights issues. Having recently pointed out the LoveRocks CD for Saint Valentine's Day which benefits the Human Rights Campaign, it might also be fortuitous to point you in the direction of WedRocks, a soon to be released CD to benefit http://www.freedomtomarry.org

It's Presidents' Day and their Medal of Freedom notwithstanding,perhaps it's best to remind ourselves that it's really all about is that this is a land with liberty and justice for all.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"The Vice President Should Be Arrested!"

Our Manhattan correspondent, Bernice, is in an uproar over Veep Dick's tempest. "The Republican Party has surely lost its mind setting one Vice President after another. We haven't heard a peep out of ol' Dan in a long time. Bad enough most people thought he looked too much like Liberace's chauffeur. Adding injury to insult that nasty Dick, Mr. Cheney, took off after him! This is a strange way to pick Mr. Bush's successor. And why oh why does the State of Texas require a license to shoot politicians?"

"Seems to me somebody doesn't want Mr. Quayle to make another run for the White House. So many people were concerned that he wasn't smart enough to be President. Now we know that he is and maybe Mary Cheney's father knew that, too."

Perhaps Pookie and Nurse Betty can disabuse Ms. Bernice of this misinformation, i.e. that it was a different kind of fowl that Cheney's foul injured and not that Dan Quayle is not smart enough to be President now that the bar has been lowered considerably.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Love Is Not For Sissies

NEW YORK (AP) -- Larry McMurtry, who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," says the film's meaning can be summarized: "Life is not for sissies."

McMurtry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose books include "Lonesome Dove," adapted Annie Proulx's story with Diana Ossana for "Brokeback Mountain." The film, nominated for eight Academy Awards, has elicited some controversy for its gay cowboy plot -- something McMurtry thinks is off-base.

"It doesn't present any kind of agenda, any politics at all, one way or the other at all. It just says life is not for sissies," McMurtry says in an interview with "CBS News Sunday Morning," to air Sunday (9 a.m. EST).

"Brokeback Mountain" stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as two cowboys who maintain a secret relationship in difficult circumstances. As the years go by, one is more willing to sacrifice than the other.

"You need strength; love is not easy," says McMurtry. "It's not easy if you find (it), it's not easy if you don't find it. It's not easy if you find it but it doesn't work out. It merely says the strong survive, but not everybody is strong."

McMurtry, 69, was nominated for an Oscar in 1972 for co-writing the screenplay (adapted from his novel) of "The Last Picture Show" with Peter Bogdanovich.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Brian Rodgers and friends at the HRC Awards

Luminous Jake was not able to attend. His co-star Anne accepted for him. But he sent a video message.

Go here to catch highlights of the awards' acceptance speeches.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mark Aaron James is better than Garth Brooks

If You Like Pina Coladas

Finally, an "Undercover" topic that speaks to my talents!
Tomorrow's show features "drinking songs." There will be the classic
"Tear in my Beer" variety, along with some modern additions to the
genre, like Semisonic's "Closing Time." Not to mention my own little
contribution to the category, "Happy Hour Somewhere," from
"Adventures with a Plastic Bag." I'm working on setting up a drink
special in honor of the category. I'll keep you posted. Even if
you're on the wagon, it will be a fun night of music. I hope you can
make it to Mr. Denehey's, on Carmine @ 7th Ave, downstairs, Thursday
at 8:30 PM.

Also, I will be back at the Rockwood Music Hall on Tuesday
the 21st for an 11 PM set. Rockwood (located on Allen St. b/t
Houston and Stanton) has quickly become the place to hear acoustic
music in NYC. I'm working on a new song to debut there. I hope you
can make it out for this free show. Thanks for the continued support.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Song of the Week

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

Words & Music by Hank Williams
Recorded by Hank Williams, 1949
Also recorded by B.J. Thomas, 1966 (#8)

Also recorded by Chris Isaak for the Soundtrack-Mr. Wrong

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill;
He sounds too blue to fly..
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

I've never seen a night so long,
When time goes crawling by;
The moon just went behind a cloud;
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

Did you ever see a Robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
That means he's lost the will to live;
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky;
And as I wonder where you are,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign acknowledged both Christopher Meloni and Jake Gyllenhaal on Saturday for their contributions to the ongoing civil rights struggle of human beings to have equal rights. Our own Canuck, Brian Rodgers, was in attendance as a guest of Mr. Meloni whose award was presented to him by the very supportive Tom Fontana who is worthy of an award or two in his own right. Just ask his two gay brothers.

Sure it’s great to have a festive banquet where everyone gets dressed up to honour those who are most deserving. Brian’s presence there was indeed due to the ever considerate and generous Meloni who certainly appreciates a good man when he sees one. Meloni’s choice of a guest was spot on. Our Mr. Rodgers is what the campaign is all about: good people who deserve the best out of life. Congratulations, Chris and Jake, who was unable to attend but accepted via video promising to become worthy of the acknowledgment. Thank you, Christopher Meloni, for acknowledging Mr. Rodgers.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.

Speaking of HRC, Centaur Entertainment has a great collection of songs, Love Rocks, for sale to benefit the organization. From their website:

Billboard Magazine

With phrases like "family values" and "compassionate conservative" taking on new and heightened meaning, a CD like Love Rocks arrives right on time. The two-disc collection brings together gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight artists in the name of love, respect and commitment—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Onboard are:

Christina Aguilera ("Beautiful"), Dido ("Thank You"), Dolly Parton ("Sugar Hill"), Dixie Chicks ("I Believe in Love"), Pink ("Love Song"), Ari Gold ("Home"), Eric Himan ("No Urgency"), Melissa Etheridge ("Giant"), Kinnie Starr ("Alright"), Emmylou Harris ("Jupiter Rising"), Billy Porter ("Only One Road") and others.

Net proceeds from sales of "Love Rocks" will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign—a national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization—and its educational division, the HRC Foundation


This two-disc compilation of 32 artists, compiled by HRC (Human Rights Campaign),which will receive all proceeds, begins on a high note with Christina Aguilera’s spirited ballad “Beautiful.”

The song takes on a whole new meaning in a GLBT civil rights context. Each of the subsequent songs delivers a staunch message of equality in this sonic pep rally, from Simply Red’s rendition of “You Make Me Feel Brand New” to Yoko Ono’s reimagined take on the classic “Every Man Has a Man.”

On “She,” openly gay singer-songwriter Jen Foster expounds: “Love is blind / So why are you staring? / She means everything to me.” But it’s the hook, line, and sinker lyrics “But I have found true love / And there is nothing you can do / Just try and stop me / Just try and stop us” that translates to a battle cry for civil justice.

Other openly queer acts, including Melissa Etheridge, Sophie B. Hawkins, Ari Gold, and Kinnie Starr, among others, appear with a vengeance. Teaming up with HRC’s straight allies, all the esteemed artists on Love Rocks scored a win, serving HRC’s message in a big, accessible way.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gerald McCullouch (Bobby Dawson, CSI)

"Dance as tho' no one is watching you,
Love as tho' you have never been hurt before,
Sing as tho' no one can hear you,
Live as tho' heaven is on earth." -unknown

Bored? Check it out.

Backlot Mountain

Gabriel Rotello of Outweek fame had this to say:

"The fundamental purpose of gay liberation has been to chip away at the closet everywhere, carving out huge swaths of freedom in which lesbian and gay Americans can live honest lives. We've been so successful that one of the standard comments about Brokeback is that if Jake and Ennis were alive today, the whole horrible tragedy probably wouldn't happen at all.

That's true, but here's the real irony: in 2006, Jake and Ennis would find it easier to live as openly gay sheep farmers in Wyoming (where Casper has an openly gay mayor) than as openly gay stars in Hollywood."

Catch the full article here

Visit his site here.

Brilliant But Cancelled

Aidan Quinn was a trailblazer. One need only visit the information in re: An Early Frost. All the more reason to lament the cancellation of The Book of Daniel, of which Quinn was an Executive Producer. Unaired episodes can be viewed on NBC’s website here.

There was a time when NBC championed ratings challenges, may Brandon Tartikoff rest in peace. It is the why and wherefore of Thursday Night “must see TV.” We do live in an era when it seems that people have lost any sense of doing the right the right thing creatively and otherwise. All network executives should be required to view Good Night and Good Luck.

The episode of Daniel that can currently be viewed at www.nbc.com is almost worthy of Robert Altman. If NBC were wont to give in to pressure to eliminate this fine show from their line up, why not transmit on Bravo? The allegedly righteous seem to leave Cable TV to its devices. For now.

In a related topic, the final episodes of Arrested Development aired on Friday night. It might seem that the presence of Jason Bateman would guarantee the success of a situation comedy if that’s what one would call this brilliant show. It does not. Curious that. Logo TV’s recent airings of Some of My Best Friends only confirm Bateman’s timing and subtlety as one of the best comic actors on episodic television. It is an instance where and when a good creative product need only be nurtured and given a chance.

Interesting in that the Diet Pepsi commercial’s airing during Arrested’s finale featured Jay Mohr in his Peter Dragon persona, a character from another FOX-TV’s cancelled episodic comedy, Action, yet another show not given the chance to develop an audience. The good news is that it will be released on DVD come February 21st. The prime episode features Desperate Housewives’ Richard Burgi as gay action hero actor who goes down on Jay Mohr’s character. Rich.

All three of these shows are examples of the kind of television viewing that pushes the envelope and provides real entertainment on many different levels that does not “dumb down” i.e. pander to the lowest common intelligence quotient. Good television makes the viewer laugh, cry and curious.

Trio TV had a series of shows from the past called Brilliant But Cancelled. The list of shows that might have been part of that transmission was longer than their tiny budget would have allowed. It was a well motivated effort, but now Trio itself is gone.

If creative television is presented and nurtured – ‘nurtured’ being the operative term here – viewers will respond. Neither All in the Family nor Seinfeld were ratings giants when first aired. It took foresight and a creative hand in the executive suite to allow them to manifest their destinies as good television.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Billy Dean

Hello !

Happy Valentine's Day from Billy and all of us at Dean and Company!

Some more tour dates have been added to Billy's schedule for 2006.
Please check out the tour page for more detailed information
(especially if you leave in or near MO, IA, WI, AR, and OR).

We'll have information on a new single in the coming weeks,
so stay tuned!

As always thank you
for your continued support of Billy and his music!

Shannon Murphy
webmaster, http://www.billydean.com
email: info@billydean.com

Darth Vader Strikes Again

Yep, Dick Nasty shot someone. Remember what Freud had to say about accidents.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Class Act

There was a thread on Datalounge which discussed Philip Seymour Hoffman and his oscar worthiness. Of course, the other men involved were also discussed and this article was referenced.

Strathairn Praises Oscar Rival Ledger
Friday Feb 3 15:52 AEDT
Heath Ledger (AAP)

Heath Ledger's Oscar rival David Strathairn says the Australian actor hasn't received enough recognition for his portrayal of a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain.

"Heath is getting recognition for it but I am surprised why he is not getting more because that was not an easy thing to do," Strathairn told AAP from the United States.

"Heath went out on a limb there and really held on.

"His performance is a quiet one ... but I think what he has done was really hard to do. He took some really brave choices character-wise and just locked onto them."

Ledger and Strathairn, for his performance in Good Night, and Good Luck, were nominated for March's 78th Annual Academy Awards on Thursday.

They will go head to head with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Terrence Howard for the best male actor category.

"Brokeback Mountain is a difficult piece, not just because of what it is about but it is the persona, the person, a creation that we have yet to have seen in the modern era in film," said the 57-year-old Strathairn.

"It upended this mythic thing of the cowboy ... and Heath manages that myth and the revelation of this character. Really, I can't say enough about it."

Brokeback Mountain, a story of the forbidden love of two men in America's west, has caused much controversy in the United States.

"It has struck a bell," said Strathairn.

The Oscars will be held at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on March 5.

And as the cliche goes, Strathairn was happy just to be nominated.

"Getting nominated is it for me," he said, adding that he had never come close to a nomination in more than 25 years working in the industry.

"I have never even been close enough to peek under the tent then all of a sudden I am inside there, sitting in the stocks in front of everyone."

Good Night, and Good Luck tells the story of Ed Murrow's bitter feud with Senator Joseph McCarthy, which came to a head on March 9, 1954, when Murrow exposed the deceit, bullying, and manipulation of the then-powerful McCarthy, head of the Senate Committee on Un-American Activities, on the CBS TV program See It Now episode.

Good Night, and Good Luck was written and directed by George Clooney, who received Oscar nominations for best screenplay and director for the film.

"When I first saw a rough cut of it, I knew it was going to have some kind of bells and whistles," said Strathairn.

Speaking more generally on this year's Oscars nominees, Strathairn noted that it was a strong batch of "small budget films with potent themes".

"Maybe the pendulum swings more often than not now to small budget films because of budget constraints and also the production friendly technology that everyone has," he said.

Looking forward, Strathairn confirmed that his next film would be Fracture, a thriller co-starring Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins.

"It will be an honour," he said.

Jay Spears says ...

Well last night I went to [a screening for Brokeback Mountain]. Heath Ledger and his lovely Michelle Williams were both very gracious and informative, answering questions from the host and the audience. Since most of the attendees were show-biz types, most of the questions were show-biz rather than about gay issues. In fact I don't think the g-word was uttered once. Heath did say that the story was the most beautiful love story he's ever read and that he knew that he was a natural to play Ennis Del Mar even though he had originally been offered the role of Jack Twist.

It was a fab time for all and I hope they do well in the Oscars race next month.

Jay Spears is a gay musician par excellence. He's linked on the main website. He's one of the good guys.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Just a Kiss to Build A Dream On

Via Andy Towle and queerday.com:

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly looks back at Rebel Without a Cause and reveals that there was a plan for the film to include a kiss between James Dean and Sal Mineo. Warner Brothers, however, wasn't up for it. “While vetting the Rebel script, Warner honcho Steve Trilling made it clear - in writing - that a kiss between Dean and Mineo would not be tolerated." It didn't stop Director Nicholas Ray from painting the portrait though. He asked a teenage Mineo what he wanted most in life.

“My driver’s license," Mineo said.

"Fine," Ray said. "Look at Jimmy as if he’s your driver’s license." Beyond the obvious adoration, the film is chock full of clues regarding Plato’s sexual preference ...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Howard Stern

They're not lesbians, but re: Brokeback Mountain

“It’s that good!”

Towleroad has a link to the dialogue where the Shocking One waxes on positively about the movie.

Mark Aaron James

I'm back from my cruise ship gig. I have now worked with
Charo. I always hoped my life would read like a Hemingway novel.
Looks like I will have to settle for Jackie Collins. Either way, I
had a great time, ate too much, drank to much, etc... I will share
stories at the show...

Speaking of great times, tomorrow is the first Thursday night
edition of the "Undercover" Party. I will be featuring the songs of
the Beatles. I'm surprised it took so long for them to be the
feature. We've done individual Beatles, but never the group. It's
going to be a "really big shoo" with these "4 kids from Liverpool."

Hope you can make it to Mr. Denehey's, Carmine @ 7th Ave,
8:30 PM, downstairs. Thanks for the support.


P.S. I'm doing a private house concert on Valentine's Day with
Christine Lavin and some other great songwriters. It will be a cool
musical date if you're looking for something special to do. It's
kind of an underground thing, so if you would like to go, just email
me and I will forward you details.

Also, I will be doing an 11 PM set (kinda late, but hope some of you
can make it) at my new favorite acoustic venue in the city, Rockwood
Music Hall on Tuesday the 21st.
The new CD "Just A Satellite" is available on the website now!
For more information on Mark Aaron James' music, schedule or CD purchasing
Please check out: http://www.markaaronjames.com

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Song of the Week

Western Stars

by Chris Isaak

Western stars light up the sky,
hear the desert wind roll by.

Tonight, tonight.

Western stars can break your heart,

they keep shining when we're apart.

Tonight, tonight.

I'll watch, I'll wait,
how will my heart ache tonight?

Tonight I'll watch, I'll wait,

my heart is bound to break tonight.

Western stars light up the sky,
tonight I'm alone to cry.
Tonight, like every night.

A western hero must play his part,

even though it will break his heart.

Tonight, oh tonight.
I'll watch, I'll wait,
how will my heart ache tonight?

Tonight Western stars light up the sky,
hear the desert wind roll by.
Tonight, tonight.

Tonight, tonight...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Modern History

NAACP Launches Effort to Increase African American Graduation and College Readiness Rates
Friday, January 20, 2006—The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) received a $200,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The “Redesigning the American High School Initiative grant”, will be used to support NAACP high school reform initiatives and to promote efforts to increase high school graduation rates for African American youth.

The NAACP will be working with the foundation and the National Governor’s Association (NGA) National Constituent Group to implement a national awareness campaign consisting of education and policy focused Capitol Hill briefings, guest speaker series, and “stay in school” events. The partnership will also produce regional and national education symposiums to develop strategies for increasing high school graduation rates.

Dr. Nicole Francis-Williams, NAACP Interim National Education Director, said, “The NAACP looks forward to this partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the NGA and we are serious about increasing graduation rates for African American students. Our Education department plans to actively impact strategies designed to increase teacher quality and improve school governance. Due to our ability to expand partnerships and utilize expertise in education, research and policy we will play an even more integral role in positively shaping the future for minority students and parents who depend on the NAACP to be their advocates.”

According to the Manhattan Institute, nearly one of every three public high school students fails to graduate. Forty-four percent of African American students will not graduate with their class. Of those who do graduate, most leave school without the skills they need to succeed in college, work, and citizenship.

Jim Shelton, Program Director of Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “Through this partnership with the NAACP, we will strengthen the support for innovative efforts to provide African American students with the education they need to graduate from high school ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

[visit the magazine here]

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chad Allen's End of the Spear

The kindred spirits at Datalounge are making an attempt to comment on the recent report that gay brother Chad Allen starring in an Evangelical Film, End of the Spear. The New York Times ran a story on 2 February 2006 that explains what the flap is all about. It follows below.

Chad Allen virtually grew up on the TV Classic, St. Elsewhere as the recurring character of Dr. Westphall’s autistic son, Tommy. Tommy is pivotal to the Series finale. He went on to star as Jane Seymour’s son on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. He had matured to the point where a tabloid was able to invade his privacy to take photographs of him and his boyfriend enjoying themselves in a swimming pool. Although Chad was forced to come out of the closet, he did so with grace and became a gay activist. To learn more about him, visit his official website.

Evangelical Filmmakers Criticized for Hiring Gay Actor


WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 — Christian ministers were enthusiastic at the early private screenings of "End of the Spear," made by Every Tribe Entertainment, an evangelical film company. But days before the film's premiere, a controversy erupted over the casting of a gay actor that has all but eclipsed the movie and revealed fault lines among evangelicals.

The film relates the true story of five American missionaries who were killed in 1956 by an indigenous tribe in Ecuador. The missionaries' families ultimately converted the tribe to Christianity, and forgave and befriended the killers. The tale inspired evangelicals 40 years ago with its message of redemption and grace, and the film company expected a similar reception.

On Jan. 12, though, the Rev. Jason Janz took the filmmakers to task for casting Chad Allen, an openly gay man and an activist, in the movie's lead role as one of the slain missionaries, and later, his grown son.

An assistant pastor at the independent Red Rocks Baptist Church in Denver, Mr. Janz posted his comments on his fundamentalist Christian Web site ... He also asked the filmmakers to apologize for their choice.

The executives at Every Tribe stood by Mr. Allen. Jim Hanon, the director, said he was by far the best actor for the role. "If we make films according to what the Bible says is true, it's incumbent upon us to live that," he said. "We disagree with Chad about homosexuality, but we love him and worked with him, and we feel that's a Biblical position."

More than 100 pastors of churches across the country signed a letter drafted by Mr. Janz and addressed to Every Tribe expressing their disappointment in the casting of Mr. Allen.

Some evangelicals have boycotted the film, and Every Tribe's executives said that they had also turned over to the authorities material that they considered threatening.

"Does anyone really believe that Chad Allen was the best possible actor for Nate Saint?" Mr. Janz asked in his Jan. 12 Web log entry, referring to one of the characters in the movie. "That would be like Madonna playing the Virgin Mary."

After discussions with executives at Every Tribe, Mr. Janz wrote in an e-mail message that he had recently corrected a few assertions in his original posting and sent the corrections to his audience and members.

But Mr. Janz, who said he rarely weighed in on the culture wars, stood by his previous statement that "we must realize that the Christian message and the messenger are intricately related."

He wrote that Mr. Allen's homosexuality was not so much the problem as was his open activism for gay causes, and that if a drunk who "promoted drunkenness" had acted in the movie, "I'd be just as mad."

One Web log … by Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, stated in a Jan. 13 entry: "Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men's houses. But what they have done is no mistake. It is a calculated strategy."

Greg Clifford, chief operating officer of Every Tribe, said the company, based in Oklahoma, had alerted the F.B.I. there about the Web log. The F.B.I. did not return phone calls yesterday about the matter.

Mr. Janz said he had not been contacted by the F.B.I., and Mr. Bauder could not be reached for comment.

Many evangelicals are concerned that young people inspired by the movie will look up Mr. Allen on the Web and "get exposed to his views on homosexuality, and that would cause some of them to question Biblical views of homosexuality and every other sin," said Will Hall, executive director of ... the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has published articles critical of Every Tribe's decisions.

Other evangelicals said they felt that the message of the film should override such considerations.

Bob Waliszewski, head of the media review department at Focus on the Family, said that he was saddened by e-mail messages from angry Christians who said they would not see the movie.

A generation of young people were inspired to become missionaries by the true story, and Mr. Waliszewski said he had hoped a new generation would be moved by "End of the Spear."

"Has Focus on the Family made a strong statement against homosexuality? Absolutely," he said. "But what is the message of the product? And do we at Focus feel compelled to check on the sexual history of everyone in a movie? Did they have a D.U.I.? Did they pay their taxes?"

Mr. Hanon echoed: "If we start measuring the sin of everyone in a movie, we would never be able to make a picture because none of us would be left."

Mr. Allen, 31, who assists troubled young gay men and lesbians and speaks on behalf of same-sex marriage, said the response stemmed from fear that he could influence young people to become gay, a notion he dismissed.

Every Tribe, he said, did not see him as a threat. "When they offered me the part, my first thought was, Do they know who they're talking to?" he said in a phone interview.

He said that Mr. Hanon had told him there would be people on both sides who would be unhappy with the decision but suggested that they talk through the matter and show that they could respect one another's differences and work together.

Mr. Allen said: "When he said that, my hair stood on end, and I got up, and said: 'Absolutely! Yes!' "

[One of Chad’s recent interviews with the Advocate]

Given the recent events of the tragic 18 year old who started a crime spree in a Massachusetts gay bar that began with wounding and shooting innocent people and ended with his own death in a Missouri hospital after a shoot out killing an officer and a civilian, it is important – very important – that those who have an extreme religious agenda weigh their words carefully and perhaps keep them aligned with those of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

From BBC, no less

USA, Showtime (Paramount/Gary Nardino Productions), Sitcom, Colour, 1984
Starring: Paul Regina, Robert Walden, Brandon Maggart

A groundbreaking US sitcom, imported to the UK by C4 in a limited number of episodes, which dealt in a real way with homosexuality, a million miles from John Inman's mincing TV personas in Britain. Dealing as it did with such areas as Aids, gay-bashing and male kissing, Brothers was way too hot a topic for the major US networks to handle - ABC and NBC turned it down flat - so the series went out in the States on the Showtime cable channel, fast becoming one of the prime places to see material that stepped out of the mainstream. Indeed, Brothers was the first sitcom made specifically for cable.

Set in New York [BBC is mistaken here -- it was set in Philly] (although filmed in Hollywood), the series focused on the three Waters brothers - Lou (eldest), Joe (middle) and Cliff (youngest). Lou is a construction worker and something of a father figure to his siblings; Joe (played by Robert Walden, the likeable but pushy newspaper reporter Paul Rossi in Lou Grant) is a former professional (American) football hero who has retired and opened his own restaurant; and Cliff...Cliff is gay. This was revealed in dramatic fashion in the series' opening episode, when he 'came out' on the eve of his planned wedding.

Because Cliff looks and acts 'straight' this makes the news particularly hard for his brothers to accept. Indeed, this inability of Lou and Joe to come to terms with the fact that their baby brother was not one of them, but, rather, 'one of them', formed the basis for much of the comedy. (And yes, apart from the 'issues' the series was also funny.) Acceptance was an especially tough proposition for Lou, the very macho, very hetero ex-sportsman, and he also had trouble coming to terms with Cliff's visiting effeminate friend Donald.

More info on the show here

Goodnight. Sweet Prince

from Newsday.com:

Paul Regina, 49, progressive actor, family man


February 4, 2006

The warmth of the spotlight can be hard to reject for anyone in show business. But Paul Regina - a movie, television and stage actor who spent more than 20 years in Hollywood - did just that when he left Tinseltown to return to his boyhood home of Medford and be with his family. It was the kind of sacrifice typical of Regina, family and friends said.

Regina, whose portrayal of one of television's first recurring gay characters on the Showtime series "Brothers" broke new ground for gay acting roles, died Tuesday at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown of liver cancer. He was 49.

"He was a thoroughbred as an actor, and he was even better as a person," said Fred Carpenter, a local independent film director who worked with Regina on three movies. "This was a first-class guy."

Born in Brooklyn, Regina was raised in Medford and graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1974. While in school, he already knew the direction he wanted his career to take and sought parts in every school play and musical production.

In 1976, he landed the role of Kenickie in a national touring company of "Grease," appearing briefly on Broadway in the show.

By then, Regina had settled in Los Angeles. He worked steadily, doing spots on various television shows and keeping company in movies with Anthony Hopkins, Shirley MacLaine and Rosanna Arquette.

In 1984 he began a five-year stint as Cliff Waters, one of three brothers living in Philadelphia, in "Brothers."

In the first episode, to the shock of his brothers, Regina's character comes out. The series and Regina's character were hailed as landmarks in the portrayal of gays on television. Regina loved the part, his wife, Nancy, said, and often got letters from fans who viewed Cliff as a positive role model.

Brookhaven resident Frank Pierre said that as a young man coming out, he would race to his cousin's house every week to catch "Brothers."

He said that seeing Regina's character revealed that portrayals of gays on television did not have to rely on stereotypes.

"It was the only gay character on TV that wasn't the flamboyant sidekick," Pierre, 45, said. "He was Everyman USA. It was so important to see that."

In 1990, Regina married Nancy Dye, his teacher in an improv workshop. In 1996 he co-starred with Eric Roberts, George Segal and Margaret Cho in "It's My Party," about a man dying of AIDS.

By 2000, however, Regina was itching to get back to Long Island.

"He really wanted his daughter to grow up here," said Nancy of the couple's 15-year-old, Nicolette. "He wanted to be close to his family, too."

The move was daring, Carpenter said. "No one gives up their careers in Hollywood," he said. "And here's a man who put his wife and daughter first. It's unheard of."

Regina continued to act, joining Carpenter on his independent films. He also wrote scripts and volunteered whenever he could, his wife said, helping out with missing children's charities and starting up "The Actors' Place" workshop to coach aspiring thespians.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Regina is survived by his mother, Irma, of Medford; a brother, Pat, of Manorville; and three sisters, Joyce Regina, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Julie Schindler, of Syracuse, and Christina Alam, of San Francisco.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at St. Sylvester's Church in Medford, followed by a celebration of Regina's life at the Brick House Brewery and Restaurant in Patchogue.