Gay reality version of “Modern Family” seeks cast

We knew it would happen. Desperate Housewives begat the reality Real Housewives franchise. Production on the new Dallas series triggered everything from Big Rich Texas to The A-List Dallas. Success begets success. So it was just a matter of time before the hit sitcom Modern Family would spur its reality-based imitators.

And that time is now.

Worlds of Wonder, the production company responsible for RuPaul’s Drag Race and lots of other TV shows with a gay slant, is in the process of casting for its newest docu-series. My Modern Family is going into production, and is undertaking a nationwide search for their own Mitchell and Cameron. From the press release:

“Are you … gay and married with kids? Does your extended family play an important role in your life? Do you think your family is larger than life and ready for their close-up? If so, we may want to hear from you!”

Interested folks can send an email to realmodernfamilycasting@gmail.com, and need to include a brief description of their family (at least one set of in-laws need to be close and in general get along with you and your partner, and help out from time to time) and similarities to the sitcom, plus “photos of as many family members as possible” and a way to contact you.

Someone local really needs to be on this show. You listening to me, Todd and Cooper Smith-Koch?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cooper Smith, Todd Koch head to N.Y. with local J.C. Penney LGBT employees for Pride parade

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Gay Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch will leave their kids in Big D this weekend as they travel to march in New York’s Pride parade on J.C. Penney’s float.

Smith told Instant Tea that he and Koch will join about 100 other friends and supporters from the DFW area.

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Kate Coultas said the Plano-based LGBT employee group PRIDE organized the trip and will have about 250 employees march on Sunday.

“As we focus on becoming America’s favorite store, we’re committed to being a store for all Americans,” Coultas wrote in an email.

She added that those attending will wear J.C. Penney’s Pride shirts, which are only available online.

Cooper said he was honored to be asked to join in the Big Apple’s Pride festivities to celebrate the company’s diversity.

“Todd and I are so proud of J.C. Penney for how they’ve made an effort to represent all families and how they’ve stood squarely by their message of inclusiveness,” Smith said. “The whole experience has been heart-warming. Being asked to walk alongside hundreds of their employees, families and friends is the ultimate cherry on top!”

Photos from the parade are below.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas dad Cooper Smith of J.C. Penney ad fame writes heartfelt op-ed about Father’s Day gift

Cooper Smith, right, and Todd Koch were special guests Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, June 16.

While many dads may have had the normal joys of fatherhood to celebrate Sunday, Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch celebrated the public’s support for their family, which was featured in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Smith wrote an op-ed about the experience, highlighting the “gift of overwhelming love and support” that he and Koch received this Father’s Day.

The ad has made international news, leading to hundreds of supportive messages from gay and straight couples, Smith writes in the piece published on The Advocate’s website:

While we had no hesitation in doing the ad itself, we initially girded ourselves for a negative backlash. To our surprise, the response to our famiy has been overwhelmingly positive — shockingly positive, in fact.

We’ve received hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, Twitter comments and cards in the mail from everyone from long-lost friends and classmates to complete strangers in remote parts of the United States and beyond, each filled with heartfelt sentiments of support and acceptance. We’ve even heard from celebrities and other public figures.

Sure, there have been some pretty hateful comments and notes, too. But they’re nothing we haven’t heard our whole lives. More importantly, they’ve been eclipsed at least 100-to-1 by the positive ones.

Smith and Koch were special guests at Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, where they spoke about the flood of media attention. CNN featured the family in a segment Friday, focusing on advertisers’ inclusion of same-sex couples lately from J.C. Penney’s lesbian couple in May to Gap and travel agencies. Smith said in the CNN interview that he thinks it is the first time gay dads have been featured with their children in an ad by a national company. Watch the segment below. The couple was also interviewed by The New York Times last week but that article has yet to be published.

—  Dallasvoice

One Million Moms attacks J.C. Penney’s Father’s Day ad featuring gay Dallas couple and their kids

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith and their two children are featured in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Smith said he was asked by a casting agent in Dallas in early February to be in the Father’s Day issue after the agent saw his family’s Christmas photo on Facebook.

They agreed and did a photo shoot in Addison shortly afterward. He said the picture is very natural with the kids, Mason, almost 3, and Claire, 3, running around and having a fun time.

“The photo is just a one-second photo of our life,” Smith said. “It’s a candid moment of how we interact with each other.”

The ad features Koch and Smith in a relaxed home setting playing with their two children under the words “First Pals.” The text reads, “What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver – all rolled into one. Or two.” The text at the bottom right-hand corner reads, “Real-life dads, Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.”

Smith said the agents were seeking a variety of families for the issue, but they are the only gay family featured.

“They were just trying to present a wholesome gay family and I guess we fit the bill for that,” he said. “They’re really trying to represent what America looks like, and that’s not just heterosexual white people.”

The company’s inclusion of a lesbian couple with their daughters and one of the women’s mothers in the May issue sparked the anti-gay hate group One Million Moms to reactivate a boycott of the store. The unsuccessful boycott had been dropped in March after J.C. Penney stood firmly behind its hiring of lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as a company spokeswoman.

Smith said they were asked about the OMM situation before they agreed to be included, but he said it was not an issue.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Catalogs started going out Wednesday, and One Million Moms responded Thursday, writing on the group’s website that J.C. Penney is “continuing down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The group urges the public to return the catalogs in protest, as well as call and email the company.

“It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral in the culture war. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well,” OMM’s statement reads online. “Our persistence will pay off! One day we will answer for our actions or lack of them. We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature.”

The full statement is below.

—  Dallasvoice

Target flap helps inspire ‘GroupOn for the gays’

Cooper Smith Koch, the local entrepreneur whose Gay List Daily e-mail service has 10,000 subscribers for its Dallas edition alone, has launched an offshoot called Gay List Deals, which is just what it sounds like. The current deal, for example, is $10 to spend at Urban Dog Coffee for the price of $5, available for purchase directly on the site:

“We launched the Deals initiative to help support our community by encouraging our readers to buy from local gay-owned or gay-friendly local businesses,” Koch wrote to Instant Tea. “We’re highlighting these businesses at no upfront cost to them and allowing them exposure to our nearly 10,000 Dallas edition readers. … Some folks are jokingly calling us GroupOn for the gays. That’s a great compliment if you ask me!”

Koch added that his team is taking it slow with the launch, posting only one or two deals per week initially until they can work out the kinks. He said surveys and research showed people wanted something like Gay List Deals but didn’t want to receive a second e-mail about it.

He also said the new site was inspired in part by the recent Target controversy:

“This is really part of a bigger crusade for me, if you will,” he wrote. “As the owner of two businesses myself, I know the struggles that small businesses face, especially with this recession that just won’t seem to end. Many of us who have survived this long are coming out of it bruised and bloodied, and we need to band together to help each other get through the Great Recession’s final throes. It’s definitely more convenient to pop into Barnes & Noble or to have Bank of America ATMs on every corner, but at what cost to local businesses? And now that Target has shown its true stripes, the biggest companies aren’t much more supportive of us than some conservative small businesses.”

Koch said he eventually plans to expand Gay List Deals to other cities where Gay List Daily is well established.

“We’d been tinkering with it since early this year, but what happened at Target really pushed it forward more quickly,” he said of Gay List Deals.

UPDATE: If you’d like to give Koch some in-person feedback, Gay List Daily’s August Mixer is Wednesday night at the Brick.

—  John Wright