Drama, queens

NBC’s hyped ‘Smash’ wants one thing: To be the next ‘Glee.’ It succeeds

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HELLO NORMA JEAN | The making of a stage musical about Marilyn Monroe creates a competition between two actresses (Katharine McPhee, Meg Hilty) in the aptly-named ‘Smash.’

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

Smash has one goal in mind: To out-gay Glee.

The much-hyped hour-long drama series (NBC is hawking it by tying in to the Super Bowl, even though the real singing competition The Voice airs after the game; Smash is on Monday) has musical performances interwoven with a melodramatic storyline about the next Broadway star. Forget competing against other teens at regionals: This is the whole enchilada. (Although no one in the cast looks like they have ever eaten an enchilada. Too many carbs.)

A musical theater team — gay composer Tom (Christian Borle) and fag-hag lyricist Julia (Debra Messing) — get suddenly inspired to turn Marilyn Monroe’s life into a Broadway musical. That’s usually a years-long enterprise, only hot stage producer Eileen (Angelica Huston) needs a new show to replace one tanked because of her divorce. Marilyn sounds perfect. The key, though, will be getting the right star.

It’s instantly a showdown between two women: Veteran belter Ivy (Meg Hilty) and fresh newcomer Karen (Katharine McPhee). The sleazy British director Derek (Jack Davenport) wants to sleep with one, which may skew the vote, but the thing is, you really want both to get it. This isn’t Black Swan, it’s A Chorus Line.

Creator Theresa Rebeck is an old hand at New York theater, and Smash oozes insider knowledge gussied up for TV: The catty personality conflicts, the references to other shows and composers, the cumbersome, do-we-know-what-we’re-doing rehearsal process. These routines sometimes devolve into cliché (episode 2 is less deliciously addictive than the pilot, but still entertaining), but the style of the series — with rehearsals magically transforming into idealized fantasy stagings of what the show can be — works, keeping the show visually interesting.

Rebeck also knows her market: Theater queens. When Derek snipes that he doesn’t like gay people, Eileen shoots back that he picked the wrong profession; every assistant and chorus boy seems like a friend of Dorothy, and Tom gets his princess attitude going. Smash is less over-the-top than Glee, as if these characters are the same high schoolers a few years after graduation. Add American Idol runner-up McPhee into the mix (she’s a good actress) and fallen-from-Grace Messing, and Smash has everything a gay boy could want.

Break out the Playbill and grab an orchestra seat — Smash is in for a long run.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local briefs • 12.10.10

Minehart leaves Lone Star Ride after three years as event manager

Lone Star Ride Event Manager Dave Minehart has announced he will leave the ride at the end of this month. He has accepted a new position as development director for a nonprofit organization in his hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. He has been in Texas for the past 28 years but over the past seven, his goal has been to move closer to family.

Minehart participated in all 10 Lone Star Rides, the last three as event manager.

Laura Kerr is the incoming board chair. Co-chairs of the ride are John Tripp and Danny Simpson. Tripp co-chaired the ride this year and Simpson has been responsible for fundraising events outside the ride and participated in it for a number of years.

GAIN holding holiday social, taking up donations for Silver Star Room

GAIN, an organization for mature LGBT people, will hold its annual December Social Event Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. Those attending are asked to bring canned food items and personal car items to donate to those at the Adult Protective Services Silver Star Rooms, a facility specifically for people over 65 who have been abused or neglected in their homes. A list of needed items is available online in the GAIN section at RCDallas.org.

GAIN is a program of Resource Center Dallas.

TGRA, UCLSE joining to host Hard Candy Christmas benefit

Texas Gay Rodeo Association of Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire will host the annual “Hard Candy Christmas” benefit show and auction Saturday, Dec. 11, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. The evening begins with Christmas Cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by the show and auction at 7 p.m. MCs are Donna Dumae and Trisha Davis.

Broadway star Sam Harris performing benefit concert at CoH

Sam Harris will peform a benefit concert Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary at Cathedral of Hope to raise money for the church’s Interfaith Peace Chapel. Tickets are $20 and are available at the church. For information call 214-351-1901.

Consultant seeking LGBT coming out stories for upcoming anthology

Consultant Sonia Friedrich is looking for LGBT people to contribute their personal coming out stories to the anthology Coming Out: Personal stories that will make you smile, laugh, shudder and cry.

Ideally, stories should be between 300 and 1,500 words, with the maximum length being 3,000 words. Those who haven’t come out can also submit their stories on why they haven’t.

Stories will be edited and can be anonymous.

For more information or to submit a story please contact soniafriedrich@virginbroad- band.com.au.

Friends nightclub hosting ‘Toys for Tots’ benefit in Gun Barrel City

Friends Nightclub, 410 S. Gun Barrel Lane in Gun Barrel City, hosts “Reva’s and Rusty’s Annual Toys for Tots” benefit show Saturday, Dec. 11, beginning at 9 p.m.

The event is held in conjunction with the Family Resource Center and the Gun Barrel City police and fire departments and helps raise money and collect toys for underprivileged children in the Cedar Creek Lake area.

Suggested donation at the door is $5 or a new, unwrapped toys. Tips given to performers during the show will be used to purchase toys to donate as well.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week holding membership meeting

The annual organizational meeting for Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association will be held Sunday, Dec. 19, beginning at 3 p.m. at Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth. Topics for discussion include closing out business for 2010, voting on new officers and advisory council members, proposed rules and regulation changes for 2011 and an overview of Prideevents planned for 2011.

The meeting is open to all interested people and everyone signed in at the meeting is eligible to vote. The Miss, Mr. and Ms. HoHoHo contest will be held at 8 p.m. that evening, also at Best Friends. Packets for anyone interested in competing are available at the bar.

Tickets on sale now for Women’s Chorus of Dallas concert at Wyly

Tickets are now available for The Women’s Chorus of Dallas’ first performance of its 22nd concert season, “Love & Light,” being held Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Wyly Theater.

In addition to the children’s choir from Good Shepherd Episcopal School, the concert will also fearture Tony-Award winner Victoria Clark.

Tickets are on sale now from the AT&T Performing Arts Center. To charge by phone, call 214-880-0202 purchase tickets online at attpac.org. Tickets are also available for the after-party with Clark.

Johnson, West co-hosting town hall on upcoming legislative session

State Rep. Eric Johnson and state Sen. Royce West will co-host a Legislative Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, 4500 Spring Ave.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature and how the two lawmakers will work together to address the issues facing their constituents. In particular, their remarks will focus on the process of drawing new Congressional and state legislative districts following the decennial United States Census and the impact of the Texas’ expected budget deficit on services provided by the state.

Following their remarks, the floor will be open for questions and comments.

Additionally, a representative from Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute will present information on community resources available to help fight diabetes. Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center is home to Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

2010 Black Tie Dinner

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

The 2010 Black Tie Dinner will be held Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

The theme for the annual fundraising event this year is “Stand Strong.”

Keynote speaker for the evening will be openly-lesbianof Wisconsin. The Rev. Carol West will received the KuchlingHumanitarian Award, and American Airlines will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award. Activist and businessman Mitch Gold will be on hand to present the Media Award to out lesbian and country/western star Chely Wright.

Special entertainment will be provided by Broadway star Gavin Creel and the Turtle Creek Chorale.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Baldwin named as BTD keynote speaker

First open lesbian member of Congress will appear at the Nov. 6 fundraising event for HRC

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor  nash@dallasvoice.com

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Choosing speakers and award recipients for Black Tie Dinner each year requires a delicate balancing act between big names with the drawing power of celebrity and deserving individuals who can “speak to the issues of the LGBT community,” Black Tie co-chairs Ron Guillard and Nan Arnold explained.

In 2009, the dinner committee brought in a slate of LGBT allies who hit that mark well: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as keynote speaker, Judy Shepard, mother of anti-gay-hate-murder victim Matthew Shepard as the Elizabeth Birch Award winner and singer/songwriter/activist Cyndi Lauper as the Media Award winner.

Each of them, the co-chairs said, not only had the star power to draw attention, they also could — and did — speak eloquently on the community’s issues.

But while 2009 was “all about the allies,” this year it’s “all about the community,” Guillard said this week when he and Arnold announced the last two names in Black Tie’s list of award winners and speakers.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the only out lesbian in Congress, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s annual fundraising gala, set for Nov. 6 at the Sheraton Dallas hotel.

And this year’s Media Award goes to country/western star and newly-out lesbian Chely Wright.

“It’s been mine and Nan’s mantra this year to ‘fill the room’ for Black Tie Dinner,” Guillard said. “We think that Rep. Baldwin and Chely Wright will certainly help us do that.”

Activist and businessman Mitchell Gold will also attend to present the Media Award to Wright.

Baldwin and Wright join a line-up of award winners and entertainers that already included the Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church, as the Kuchling Memorial Award winner, American Airlines as the Elizabeth Birch Award winner and Broadway star Gavin Creel and Dallas’ own Turtle Creek Chorale to provide entertainment.

Guillard said organizers chose Baldwin as keynote speaker in recognition of her years of service in Congress and her status and the first openly LGBT person elected to office at the national level. (Although there were openly gay men in Congress before Baldwin was elected, they were not out when they were first elected, while Baldwin was.)

“Plus, we felt that, especially with the dinner happening the first weekend after the midterm elections on Nov.  2 and the fact that we could very possibly be facing a drastically changed political landscape, Tammy will be able to provide us with some very clear leadership and vision going forward,” Guillard said.

Arnold added, “She can do that for us regardless of the outcome of the elections. Last year, Gavin Newsome very clearly spoke to our community. But he is not gay. Tammy Baldwin can not only speak to the LGBT community, she is the LGBT community.”

Baldwin, who is out of the country, sent a statement via her office. She said:

“I’m simply delighted to have been invited to deliver the keynote at this year’s Black Tie Dinner. After a tough election season, it will be a pleasure to relax among DFW friends and celebrate how far we’ve come in our quest for LGBT equality. It’s also a night to show our support for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the many local organizations that serve the north Texas LGBT community. On top of all that, the musical entertainment sounds great, so I’m really looking forward to the evening.”

Voters in Wisconsin’s Second District first elected Baldwin to Congress in 1999, after she had spent several years in the state’s legislature. Since then, Baldwin has co-founded and co-chaired the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and in 2009 she helped lead the successful effort to enact the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act.

Baldwin has also worked for passage of a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes protections for transgender people and full repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

She is the author of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act and the first comprehensive approach to improving all areas of the health-care system where LGBT Americans face inequality and discrimination.

Although Wright is “clearly in a very commercial business,” Guillard said, he and Arnold said they were impressed by the singer’s consistent efforts, since she came out, to help LGBT youth “who are being taught they are damaged goods.”

“She makes the point, time and again, that country music is right in the heart of Middle America, a more blue collar audience, and those [LGBT] children, those families, really need someone to identify with,” Guillard said.

“She goes out of her way to say that it’s important to her to not only be her whole self but to also reach out and be a role model to young people who are struggling to come out,” he said. “She hasn’t been out very long, true, but it was the consistency of that message and her obvious passion for it that made us choose her.”

Arnold said that Wright’s decision to come out is “creating an opportunity for the voices of acceptance and equality to be heard.”
(For more about Wright, read Rich Lopez’s interview with her on Page 1.)

Gold is the founder of the nonprofit organization Faith in America, which is dedicated to educating people about how religious-based bigotry is used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination, will present the Media Award to Wright, who recently joined the board of Faith in America.

Gold, chairman and founder of the furniture manufacturer Mitchell Gold Company, has also authored “Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America” and books on home furnishings.

Arnold said Black Tie organizers are “ahead of where we were at this time last year” in terms of ticket sales for the fundraiser.

“We are focused on filling the room, and it definitely looks like we are headed in that direction,” she said.

Guillard said, “We are doing a lot of innovative things this year to fill the room — happy hours, using Facebook a lot more to attract new people.

“There was a time when our whole community was galvanized by AIDS and by the oppression we faced. But with Black Tie ending its third decade now, we realize that reaching a new, younger audience requires using new tools. And we are doing that,” he said.

Arnold said organizers have also focused this year on making sure that the dinner’s beneficiaries remember that “this dinner is for them. They are why we do this.”

Guillard noted, “We want to fill the room, because when you get down to the basics, filling the room means maximizing the dollars for our beneficiaries.”

The announcement of Baldwin as keynote speaker and Wright as Media Award winner came Thursday night, Aug. 5 during an announcement party held at Park Place Motorcars on Lemmon in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens