SHREVEPORT, La. In late November, Dallas Voice visited the set of Logo’s newest original programming project: “Sordid Lives: The Series.” However, Logo didn’t officially announce that they had green-lit the production until this week, which means I can finally tell y’all a little bit about it.
Since Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana has become the new Hollywood of the South. Big tax incentives are luring film and TV productions to the Bayou State like Queen Latifah’s new comedy “Mad Money” and “Sordid Lives,” which is in production through Jan. 25.
Just driving to Shreveport and back was worthy of a documentary. We knew that the stylish Woodley waitress sisters Natalie of Original Market Diner and Barbara of Mama’s Daughter’s Diner were friends of Leslie Jordan, the Emmy-winning actor who plays Earl Ingram, a.k.a. “Brother Boy,” the cross-dressing Tammy Wynette fanatic. So on a bright and early Friday morning, we picked them up in all their glamazon glory. While driving through East Texas, Natalie and Barbara served up some tasty dish: Jack Ruby’s connections to the Dallas mafia; the Cullen and Priscilla Davis murder saga; and the socialites who snubbed the Woodley sisters’ jewelry at the Cattle Baron’s Ball.
Our arrival coincided with the first week of the “Sordid Lives” production schedule. And what initially surprised us was the massive the scale of the production: The enormous crew took over an unused wing of a local hospital, which serves as the mental institution were Brother Boy has been locked up for 23 years.
As we pulled up to the parking lot, actor Jason Dottley greeted us and gave us a tour. Dottley is also the husband of Del Shores, writer-director-creator of “Sordid Lives.”
We were reminded that there’s a Writer’s Guild strike going on. Shores had completed writing all 12 episodes before the strike began on Nov. 2. And because he’s also sitting in the director’s chair, Shores can tweak the script without violating any of the strike rules making “Sordid Lives” one of the few scripted shows currently in production.
In one of the makeup trailers sat Georgette Jones, the 27-year-old daughter of Tammy Wynette. Jones was getting ready for her close-up since she’ll be playing her mother in a dream sequence.
As we made our way into the hospital, we ran into another version of Tammy Wynette: a bewigged Leslie Jordan in a peach pantsuit, baby-doll heels and the longest false eyelashes I’ve ever seen. Jordan immediately greeted the Woodley sisters and introduced them to everyone.
Film and TV production can be a butt-numbingly tedious process. But not if Leslie Jordan is in the room. The man effortlessly keeps everyone in stitches: Between breaks, the makeup crew would beg him to unfurl some of his best imitations “Oh, Leslie, please do the horny drag queen tweaked out on crystal meth.”
For a guy in charge of about 70 crew and cast members, Del Shores is exceptionally gracious. He tells us that some Dallasites are shooting their walk-ons they got the opportunity after Shores auctioned off the roles at the Dallas Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner.
We stayed for a few hours and watched them shoot several scenes of Brother Boy entertaining his fellow patients at the mental hospital. They could easily build the entire show around Jordan, but that won’t be the case. “Sordid Lives” has already lured a big cast, including Rue McClanahan, Olivia Newton-John and Caroline Rhea. So far, it looks like Delta Burke won’t be joining the fun. But others are making cameos, including (pictured from top) Candis Cayne, Margaret Cho and Carson Kressley.
The series is expected to premiere this fall.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 11, 2008