Is GLAAD’s evaluation of LGBT characters in movies accurate?

CLOUD ATLAS

‘Cloud Atlas,’ with out actor Ben Whishaw (right), was one of the most gay-positive films released last year — and one of two that starred Whishaw (‘Skyfall’ was the other)

GLAAD has always seemed, to me, a strange organization. On the plus side, they are a watchdog group that looks out for the interest of LGBT people, especially how they are portrayed in the media. They call out bullshit when they need to, and they give mainstream journalism a mirror to look at their own way of covering gay issues.

On the other hand, GLAAD has always been a little starstruck itself. It holds big awards ceremonies where it invites media elites and celebrities, even when such adulation doesn’t seem deserved. Back when Isaiah Washington made his first homophobic comment about T.R. Knight, GLAAD attacked him. It then got him to do a PSA on their behalf, and all was forgiven … until the next time he made a gay gaffe. Strange bedfellows, that business.

But I was surprised by the headline I woke up to this morning that GLAAD was giving a failing rating to Hollywood for only releasing 14 films with LGBT characters in them in 2012.

“How could this be?” I thought. “If that were the case, I’d dry up reviewing movies.  I see 14 gay-themed movies a month. What could they be talking about?”

Then I read deeper into the stories (you can see the entire report here). That 14 number reflects only the top 101 films released by six major Hollywood studios: Warners (Cloud Atlas, Rock of Ages), Paramount (Katy Perry: Part of Me, Fun Size, A Thousand Words), Columbia (Skyfall, 21 Jump Street, Think Like a Man, That’s My Boy), Universal (Pitch Perfect, Ted, American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement), Disney (The Avengers) and Fox (none). And to me, both of those criteria — “major” (top-grossing) film from “major” (Big Six) studios provides a slanted view of the facts.

Maybe you didn’t see some films you remember seeing with positive gay characters — Perks of Being a Wallflower maybe, or ParaNorman? Cuz GLAAD didn’t count those, even though both turned in respectable grosses.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GLAAD announces nominees for 24th annual media awards

GLAAD announced the nominees for its 24th annual media awards. Presentation of awards takes place on March 16 in New York, April 20 in Los Angeles and May 11 in San Francisco.

Among this year’s nominees are Frank Ocean, Adam Lambert, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, ParaNorman, Cloud Atlas, Keep the Lights On, The New Normal, Smash, Modern Family, How to Survive a Plague and The Amazing Race.

In the category of Outstanding Film — Wide Release, the nominees are Cloud Atlas, ParaNorman, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Your Sister’s Sister.

Outstanding comedy series recognizes five shows from network TV — The New Normal (NBC), Glee (Fox), Go On (ABC) Modern Family (NBC) and Happy Endings (ABC).

Outstanding TV movie or mini-series is all cable — American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), Hit and Miss (DirecTV) and Political Animals (USA).

—  David Taffet

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s very moving weekend we have in store. Wheel get right to it.

Starting today, Dallas’ Classic Chassis Car Club revs its engines for the 25th annual Golden Girls meet-up, a convention of member clubs that enjoy older, interesting or unique automobiles. The event includes mixers, a picnic and an awards dinner in Fort Worth. Here in Dallas, Park Place Motorcars officially launches its new Motorsports division, targeting those gearheads who have a need for speed.

One of the best movies of the year, Skyfall, opens today as well, with Daniel Craig, pictured, returning as James Bond and Javier Bardem as a gay supervillain. Even if you aren’t double-oh-seven fan, you’ll love it. Another admirable film opening this weekend is A Late Quartet, a clever drama where then members of a musical group find themselves actually performing the roles of a fugue as they interact. It contains an amazing performance by Christopher Walken, who should be short-listed for the Oscar this year. And it’s not too late to catch Cloud Atlas, another terrific movie with gay themes. Also, The Variants finished up its third season this week; you can watch it here.

On stage, Kitchen Dog Theater continues its new season with the dark comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane opening Friday, and on Saturday 42nd Street tap-dances its way into Casa Manana. Also this weekend, the Theater Ministry of the Cathedral of Hope stages Standing on Ceremony, a collection of short plays about marriage equality. And on Thursday, Rick Miller performs, for what he says will be the penultimate time, his one-man show MacHomer at the Winspear.

Jim Duran, a Dallas fashion designer, launches his new menswear label, BLKLN, with a gala at Dish on Tuesday.  And sticking with fashion, model lensman Steven D. Hill holds his second annual toy drive with snacks from the Original Cupcakery and fashionistas on display. Oh, and last night, Stephan Pyles’ newest restaurant, Uptown’s Stampede 66, opened for dinner.

There’s also an anti-bullying concert being held at the Angelika Plano at the Shops of Legacy from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, with CDs available and proceeds benefiting anti-bullying causes.

Finally, Art Conspiracy returns for an evening of fundraising and art, music, food and other things that make life worth living. It’s at 960 Dragon St. in the Design District Saturday night.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s not Pride Weekend, so why is so much going on this week?

Oh, wait — it kind of is Pride Weekend. It’s Gay Christmas — aka Halloween! That accounts for a lot of the goings-on: The Street Party on Saturday, the rugby tournament HellFest (timed, as its name suggests, to coincide with All Hallow’s Eve), the drag dinner and brunch at Dish with Candis Cayne. (Hotel Zaza’s monthly Sunday School brunch, with a costume theme, is also on Sunday.) And you can kinda see why Dallas Theater Center would open its dress-up play about pro wrestling when folks are all into costumes as well. (It also explains OhLook’s Evil Dead musical and MBS Productions’ annual classics of the macabre, Theatre of Death.)

But what accounts for Blues for Willadean being booked for a week-long stay at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station, with writer-director Del Shores and producer Emerson Collins in attendance for some Q&A screenings? And with Cloud Atlas — co-directed by trans woman Lana Wachowski — laying claim to being probably the highest profile movie ever with a prominent (and frank) gay storyline, it’s an embarrassment of riches for moviegoers. And why are so many non-spooky themed stage productions opening, from Dallas Opera’s Aida to Lyric Stage’s 1776?

There’s also a chance to enjoy to new $100 million Klyde Warren Deck Park, pictured, which has its festivities all weekend.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A rare public appearance: Trans filmmaker Lana Warchowski

Even though they became internationally famous after The Matrix films, the so-called Warchowski Brothers — Andy and Larry — were notoriously camera-shy. They had “no interviews” written into their contracts. They were rarely photographed.

Then several years ago, we learned what may have been part of the motivation for their privacy: Larry was transitioning into becoming Lana.

Until 2008′s Speed Racer, they were still credited at “The Warchowski Brothers;” now, it’s just “The Warchowskis.” And their new project is not only long-awaited for itself, but for the emergence of Lana. And in a big way.

Their new film — co-directed with Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) — is an adaptation of David Mitchell’s sweeping 2004 novel Cloud Atlas. The novel cuts across characters (including some gay ones) and time in a complex tapestry of interrelated tales. It’s a complex movie to summarize and get people excited about (even with a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon). So, to generate interest, the directors — all three — did a promotional video. Tykwer is on the far left; Andy W. is on the far right; and front and center? That’s Lana … the first time I’ve ever seen her. The movie looks fascinating (it comes out in October). I hope they took the “no interviews” clause out of this contract, because I for one would welcome the chance to interview Lana.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones