What’s gay about this year’s Emmy noms

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and there are, as usual, lots of gays in the mix.

The most obvious is the continued domination of Modern Family in the comedy category. Last year’s winner for best comedy series was nominated again for that, as well as the entire adult cast (pictured) in supporting categories, including out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays half of a gay couple with straight actor Eric Stonestreet. Also up for best comedy series at the very gay (or gay-friendly) Glee (from gay creator Ryan Murphy), The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. The Modern Family men will be up against Chris Colfer, so touching as Kurt, on GleeBig Bang‘s out actor Jim Parsons competes with his castmate Johnny Galecki and prior winner Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock.

Last year’s winner for supporting actress in a comedy, out actress Jane Lynch from Glee, is nominated again, alongside Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) and Kristen Wiig (SNL). Archie Panjabi, who won supporting actress in a drama last year for The Good Wife playing a bisexual lawyer, is also up again, going against Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

There were big nominations for Emmy (and gay) favorites Mad Men and Dexter, and some real love for the Texas-filmed series Friday Night Lights, which finishes its series run tomorrow on NBC. The cult hit The Killing got several nominations, but best drama series was not among them.

Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D List was nominated for reality series, with gay hits American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars are up for reality competition. Gay-ish comedy shows The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are frontrunners for variety/comedy series.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Green energy

It’s hit & myth with ‘Green Lantern’

‘TRON’ WITH ALIENS | Ryan Reynolds is ripped as the Green Lantern — who cares if he can act?

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

…………………

2.5 out of 5 stars
GREEN LANTERN
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong.
Rated PG-13. 115 mins.
Now playing in wide release.

……………….

They are debates familiar to most comic book fanboys: Who would win a foot race — Superman or the Flash? Who’s smarter: Batman or Brainiac? Can Mr. Freeze make a beam so cold … well, you get it. It’s pointless fantasy-stuff — a script for The Big Bang Theory played out in real life dozens of times a day.

Add to that this conundrum: Is the human will stronger than the sense of fear? That’s the ultimate premise of Green Lantern, the latest DC Comics hero to nab his own film franchise. And if you don’t know the answer right now, well, you’ve never read a comic book. Or seen a summer movie.

Hal Jordan, the Earthling who became part of the Green Lantern Corps of protectors of the cosmos, was always one of my favorite superheroes. By day he was a test pilot — a test pilot! — but by night he could fly without an airplane or a cape, and got to wear a cool-ass ring and tights. Magic jewelry and camping equipment: It tapped into every gay pre-teen male’s competing desires to be butch and fabulous.

There’s a lot of mysticism and mythology in this cosmically scaled fantasy, and director Martin Campbell has settled on a phantasmagoric style more Bosch and Giger than Jack Kirby. Many of the scenes, especially those on the planet Oa, have the pearly, soft focus of ‘70s porn. It makes for a unique look, especially as populated by thousands of alien species (humans are the poor green trash of the Corps), but it also makes you constantly aware that you are watching a CGI movie. Avatar made you believe in a different world; Lantern makes you believe only in the rampant use of green screen. It’s TRON with aliens.

Which is not to say it’s terrible. In fact, I tried, at various times before, during and after the movie, to want to love it or to hate it; I could do neither.

The script, co-written by Brothers & Sisters creator Greg Berlanti, isn’t humorless, but lacks the razor wit and comic pacing of Iron Man. (The best line comes when Hal’s girlfriend, played by Blake Lively, notes that the mask does not hide his identity very well: “I’ve known you my whole life, you think I wouldn’t recognize you because you covered your cheekbones?”)

Ryan Reynolds has always been so pretty, that not being much of an actor has been inconsequential. It’s not that he can’t act, it’s that no one cares much about seeing him try. With his chiseled face and ripped, lean body, he’s nice to look at. But his puppy dog eyes and a toned-down bad-boy attitude make him somehow more appealing here.

At least Reynolds registers some personality; I practically had to consult my notes to recall that Lively was even in it. One of the weaknesses of the plot is that there are so many extraneous characters: Hal’s best friend; his fellow Lanterns; the seems-to-be-the-villain-at-first senator (Tim Robbins); the turns-out-to-be-not-much-of-a-villain nebbish (Peter Sarsgaard, who’s so weird he’s good); and the CGI villain, a Lantern run amok called Parallax. It’s a classic case of franchitis: The filmmakers are so concerned with trying to create a franchise series, they forget to make the movie in front of them.

Well, maybe not forget, but they could do a better job of letting the story play out in more epic fashion. (Berlanti writes for TV, and the script has a tendency to tie up issues in the space between where commercial breaks would go.) Stay to till after the end credits to fully appreciate where Green Lantern 2 will start.

Or don’t. It hardly matters.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Happily Divorced’ debuts Wednesday; ‘Love Handles’ gets lesbian couple tonight

Actress Fran Drescher’s real life inadvertently turned into a story like one of the sitcoms she has performed in. A few years ago, her producing partner and husband of nearly 20 years, Marc Jacobson, announced they were divorcing because, it turned out, he’d been gay all this time. Drescher took the news like a champ (publicly at least), supporting Jacobson and her legions of gay fans with a shrug of “What can ya do?”

In true Hollywood fashion, though, she turned her personal tragedy into the stuff of comedy for her new sitcom, Happily Divorced, which premieres Wednesday on TV Land.

In it, Drescher plays Fran (big stretch), a Los Angeles housewife whose husband (John Michael Higgins) reveals after 18 years that he’s gay. How could she not have known? He did all the floral arrangements for their wedding. But the economic downturn has made the breakup far worse: He’s still living in the house they cannot afford to sell, while she ventures out into the dating world.

Happily Divorced is, like Drescher’s signature sitcom The Nanny, a bright and airy confection with some unfortunately familiar jokes sandwiching some of the truly clever ones. But Higgins (familiar for his Chris Guest mockumentaries) is a gifted comedian, as are her parents, played by George Segal and Rita Moreno. And Drescher herself a bizarrely likable woman despite that annoying accent.

There are few great sitcoms around anymore — Modern Family and 30 Rock spring to mind — and even fewer great three-camera shows, such as Big Bang Theory. Happily Divorced doesn’t approach any of them in quality or laughs, but it does have a breezy sense of humor about gay issues that’s neither insulting nor bitter. It’s a start.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Larry Kramer’s ‘Normal Heart’ to debut on Broadway with Emmy winner Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons, the gay star of The Big Bang Theory who won an Emmy as best actor in a comedy series last year, will make his Broadway debut in The Normal Heart later this spring. He’ll headline with Lee Pace, who has his own gay cred playing the drag-queen boyfriend Calpurnia Addams to  murdered soldier Pfc. Barry Winchell in Soldier’s Girl. It’s significant not only for the debuts of these actors, but the play itself.

Larry Kramer’s Normal Heart was first produced early in the great panic of the AIDS epidemic, though it stayed off-Broadway as as a regionally produced play. (A similar play to tackle AIDS, As Is, was a Tony contender in 1985; Angels in America opened in 1993.) Even with its delayed opening by more than 25 years, that means Kramer, one of the most vocal advocates for PWA, will be eligible for a Tony himself.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A very gay night at the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes were about as gay as an awards ceremony can get Sunday night, with plenty of queer winners across the TV and film categories.

The Kids Are All Right, lesbian director Lisa Cholodenko’s family portrait of two gay women, won best picture/comedy or musical and best actress/comedy for Annette Bening. The Cher-sung song “You Haven’t Heard the Last of Me” from Burlesque, won best song. Scott Rudin, the gay producer whom screenwriter Aaron Sorkin declared the greatest living producer of film, won best picture/drama for The Social Network.

But TV was where the gays really succeeded. Glee, from gay creator Ryan Murphy, won best TV comedy series, as well as best supporting performers for the of the openly gay cast members, Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch. Lynch thanked her wife and kids, and Colfer, visibly surprised, gave a shout-out to fighting anti-gay bullying. Best actor in a TV comedy went to gay actor Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, who mentioned his husband Todd without referring to him as his life partner.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones