O’Hurley gives ’em the old razzle dazzle

Don’t toss the term “Renaissance man” at John O’Hurley. He may be an actor, singer, writer and composer, but he just won’t have it. Though maybe he’ll at least have a sense of humor about it.

“Oh, do people still say that?” he asks with a laugh.

O’Hurley is the man you know, but name you can’t quite recall. Most famous for his role as adventurer-businessman J. Peterman on Seinfeld, he’s actually an experienced song-and-dance man, which he gets to remind people of when he returns to the role as Billy Flynn in Chicago, which settles in for five performances at Bass Hall this weekend.

Although he has an extensive stage background, he’s content that many people may only be familiar with the musical through the movie.

“That’s fine, because it rekindled interest in the show,” he says. “The movie was imaginative but the [stage] show is much more. Sets are minimal and in your mind more. It’s such an innovative presentation.”

As with Anderson Cooper and his Chicago predecessor Richard Gere, O’Hurley embodies the silver fox — sexy but mature. His sophistication, good looks and humor are what also prompted People magazine to name him one of their sexiest men alive in 2006, when O’Hurley was a sensation for his appearances on Dancing with the Stars. (He was the runner-up, but later won a celebrity re-match.) The honor, though, was short-lived.

“It was very funny to hear that news. It was during that swirl right after” DWTS, he says. “I remember rolling over with my hair messed up and sleep in my eyes and my wife saying, ‘Look at you, Mr. Sexy.’ She brought me back down to earth then.”

O’Hurley seems to be everywhere — and he prefers it that way. When not touring with Chicago, he hosts the National Dog Show on NBC every Thanksgiving Day, is finishing his third book and composes music.

“I enjoy moving from thing to thing,” he says. “My mind moves in lot of different directions anyways, so I like to do that a lot.”

That keeps his acting chops in tip-top shape.

He’s played Billy Flynn before, but he tries to avoid repeating himself. Each performance is a new adventure.

“I made a promise to myself back in 1984 that I would surprise myself every night,” he says. “Something new will happen or an idea occurs to me and it keeps me fresh and present. The role gets deeper, so it changes every night for me.”

He did appear in the promo video for The Charles Schulz Celebrity Golf  which shows O’Hurley at his best: Dry humor. He endorses Rangé Golf Balls and guess what he invites people to play with? The video is now on YouTube.

—Rich Lopez

Chicago at Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Through June 19. $38–$88. BassHall.com.

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

—  Michael Stephens

ABC gets some more gay, loses some

ABC releases its new fall schedule at their “upfronts” this afternoon, revealing which shows have been canceled, renewed or added.

Back again are gay faves Desperate Housewives, Modern Family and Dancing with the Stars, as well as the new sitcom Happy Endings, which has one of my favorite gay characters on TV; gone is that tired soap Brothers & Sisters, which I quit watching more than a season ago.

But there’s some new gay, too. Darren Star, gay creator of Sex and the City, has a new mid-season replacement series, Good Christian Belles, set in, of all places, Dallas. It stars Kristen Chenoweth, and I expect plenty of closeted gay guys somewhere.

CBS, the least gay of the broadcast networks, has its upfront tomorrow.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

George Hamilton joins DSM’s tour of ‘La Cage’

George Hamilton

The national tour of the 2010 Broadway revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical La Cage aux Folles, which comes to Dallas Fair Park next year via the Dallas Summer Musicals, has added George Hamilton to the cast. Hamilton will play Georges, the owner of the drag nightclub where his cross-dressing partner, Albin, is the headliner.

Georges was originally played in the current revival by Kelsey Grammar; the part is currently played by Christopher Seiber.

Hamilton is best known for his impossible tan, as well as the movies Where the Boys Are, Love at First Bite and The Godfather Part III. He also appeared in Zorro, the Gay Blade, which as considered a stereotypical portrayal of a gay character, and was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Top Republican TV shows are also gay favorites

‘Modern Family’ was No. 3 on the Republicans’ list.

A new study of TV viewing habits of Republicans vs. Democrats reveals something not surprising — that the two groups like completely different shows. What is surprising is that on the Republican list are more shows that are popular among the LGBT community than on the Democratic list.

Most glaring is the No. 3 Republican show — Modern Family. That program features one of the best portrayals of a gay family ever seen on television. And Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the family, is married to a woman from Columbia who has moved to the United States with her son. Immigration is not usually a popular Republican theme.

At No. 12 is another very gay show, Desperate Housewives. Bree’s son is gay. There’s a gay couple living on Wisteria Lane. Marc Cherry, the show’s creator who earned his TV cred as a writer for Golden Girls, is gay. Gay, gay, gay. But it’s on the Republican favorites list, not the Democrats’.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Republican side is yet another gay favorite, Dancing With the Stars. I guess that explains Bristol Palin’s continued appearance. Next season there’s talk of a gay couple. The Israeli version of DWTS tried that this year and it’s become the most popular show in that country this season.

And No. 1 is Amazing Race, which usually features gay contestants. The winner of the fourth season was Reichen Lehmkuhl and his partner at the time Chip Arndt. Mel White has appeared. Are Republicans watching to root against these players?

On the Democratic side, the No. 1 show is something called Flashpoint. Really? It’s a CBS show apparently. No. 2 in popularity is a PBS show called Hometime. OK, did Democrats answer this poll seriously?

About the only two shows on the Democratic list that would also be up there on the LGBT list are Brothers and Sisters (No. 10), which features a gay couple living in a family of Democrats with the exception of one progressive Republican sister, and Palin-impersonator Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (No. 15).

Law and Order? Good show but sounds perfectly Republican, right? Nope. Democrats prefer that show. America’s Most Wanted on FOX? Democrats. Really?

Republicans prefer The Mentalist. Democrats prefer Medium. There’s a difference?

Glee? Not on either list.

Only one show made both lists — Friday Night Lights. Great choice by both sides. Republicans rate the show one notch higher than Democrats. The writing is smart, although I’ve never seen anyone actually stick to the script. It’s something other than a police or hospital procedural show. Great character development. Interesting plot. And I’m on the show. (I play a Dillon, Texas reporter on the sidelines of the football games and at press conferences on the show. It’ll be back for its final season in the spring.)

—  David Taffet

Broadcast TV getting gayer, GLAAD says

Every fall season, GLAAD issues a report about LGBT characters on the main networks’ scripted series, and whether that indicates an improvement from years past.  This year’s report notes a “significant increase” in gay characters, according to the study — the most, in fact, ever.

ABC leads the pack with 11 of 152 lead or supporting characters (7.2 percent), helped by shows like Modern Family and Brothers & Sisters. Fox has  5 of 100 (5 percent), including Kurt from Glee, pictured, animated character like Smithers on The Simpsons. NBC marked a decline from last year (only three of 143) and CBS was again in last place with one of 125 (Emmy winner Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife).

The study has its flaws. For instance, the report claims zero gay characters on Fox in 2007, yet one listed now includes Smithers, who has been on the show since 1989 but is considered “recurring” (the study doesn’t including recurring characters in the main figures). And it doesn’t account for, frankly, qualityBrothers & Sisters has never been good, but this season has swan-dived into especially odious melodrama with gay stereotypes.

A separate report counts basic cable series, where gay characters (often with more interesting and frank storylines than on broadcast) are more common and realistically portrayed. I mean, True Blood: Who doesn’t watch that for the hot bodies? The study also doesn’t include reality shows, which really dominate the TV landscape. With Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli swishing up the most popular show on TV right now, as bisexual comedian Margaret Cho dances, you’d think that would warrant a mention, as would Jeff Lewis, Jackie Warner and half the contestants on Bravo’s competition series. That would paint a fairer picture. But it’s still nice to see progress.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Caca

Ribald as ever, on-again/off-again bisexual comedian (and lately ‘DWTS’ contestant) Margaret Cho takes on a new passion: Her music

LAWRENCE FERBER  | Contributing Writer lawrencewferber@hotmail.com

Margaret Cho
DIARY OF A CHO-GIRL | Margaret Cho is having some year with a new album ‘Cho Dependent,’ her North American tour and her enlistment on the new season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

CHO DEPENDENT
Verizon Theatre, 1001
Performance Place, Grand Prairie
Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. $39–$55.
Ticketmaster.com

After belly-dancing across the country with her burlesque variety show The Sensuous Woman, Margaret Cho is ready to get back to her first love: standup comedy. Having just kicked off a national tour and a new album, Cho Dependent, this time she’s doing it with a slight modification: An electric guitar slung around her shoulder and some songs to sing.

The album marks her first foray into music: 14 tracks of what she calls “songs that are jokes yet have musical value to them.” Indeed, renowned indie heavyweights like Ben Lee, Tegan & Sara, Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright), Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, Grant Lee Philips, Andrew Bird, Garrison Starr, Patty Griffin and others joined her as collaborators. And as for the guitar? At age 40, inspired by the sight of Madonna working an ax, Cho learned to play.

Always a risk-taker, Cho signed on last week to be on Dancing with the Stars (the season begins Sept. 21 on ABC), where she’ll share the floor with Sarah Palin’s daughter, teen mom Bristol. That will no doubt be a source of great standup material on Cho’s next tour.

Until then, we’ll just enjoy having Cho discuss provocatively titled songs like “Lesbian Escalation” and “Eat Shit and Die,” her open relationship with husband Al Ridenour and the unrequited love she later discovered was a murderer.

Dallas Voice: How did you come up with the Cho Dependent project? Cho: I wanted to make a record, but a comedy album that had really great music, so I enlisted some of the greatest musicians out there to help me. Some I met through the process of making the record and others I’ve known forever. It gave me a chance to hang out with people I love like Ani DiFranco. I’m really proud of the record.

Let’s talk about your collaborators. Which twin is hotter: Tegan or Sara? They’re both beautiful. They’re great musicians and so fun to be with. I love them both. What’s interesting is I think they look really different from each other and have such different personalities.

Did you tell your collaborators that you wanted particular songs to have a specific sound or vibe? Like, “I want this to sound like Pet Shop Boys?” There’s a song called “Eat Shit and Die.” I hired the same engineer who works with Aimee Mann, then her entire band, and then I went to where she recorded her albums in Santa Monica and said, “I’m going to be Aimee Mann all day.” I have her band, her collaborators. I was Aimee Mann all fuckin’ day. It was the best feeling.

Do you think fans be surprised to hear you actually sing? You’re pulling a bit of a Sandra Bernhard here. I love Sandra Bernhard. To me it’s really a comedy album because it’s super jokey — something that could be played on Jersey Shore. I never would want to transition completely into a singer. I always want to stay a standup comic. I’m like Lady Caca.

Did you ask Lady Gaga to be on this? No. I never got around to her. I’m a big fan so I’m going to go for her for the next project. She’s amazing, and a very gifted musician, which people don’t really talk about. She’s not just a cultural icon. She’s a talented musician. I’m inspired by her.

Why is Justin Bieber not on here? Well, he should be. Maybe next time. Him and the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

What’s the story behind the hidden 14th track, “Lesbian Escalation?” That’s a very common happenstance for most lesbians and also a trend with younger gay men, too: They act like lesbians and move in together real fast. Bringing U-Hauls to their dates, they move in fast, and almost immediately stop having sex and it becomes something else. I’m trying to encourage women not to do that. Take it slowly. I’ve been in a lot of relationships with women where it just escalates and then we can’t have sex and it gets boring. Keep the mystery alive.

When was the last time you had a girl-girl thing? Not long ago. There’s always something going on.

Is Al liberal about you having same-sex “side dishes?” Yeah, that’s totally fine. I can do whatever I want. Men and women, it doesn’t matter. We have like an old gay man’s Palm Springs relationship. Whatever the other person does is fine. It’s don’t ask don’t tell. We just don’t talk about it.

But it’s fine.

What about having sister wives? Yeah, I think that would be great. With that braid. That horrible Nicky braid? That would be really great.

Although it’s a comedy album, do any songs have their roots in a serious issue? “I’m Sorry” does. That’s a country song with Andrew Bird, and it’s inspired by something horrible. I was in love with this guy who worked on All-American Girl and he didn’t like me back. When I turned 40 I was still in love with him and I Googled him, and on Wikipedia it said: “American screenwriter, producer, worked on All-American Girl, and in 2007 was convicted of the murder of his wife. Bludgeoned her to death and stuffed her body in the attic for a month until it had partially mummified.” And I was so horrified. It could have been me. But it couldn’t have been me. I had so many complicated emotions about it and really didn’t know how to deal with it and thought I should try and write a song about domestic violence and the crazy shit people do.

So I wrote that song and in a sense it’s a very traditional “murder ballad” — it’s a country music staple, that kind of song. It helped me to make sense of how I was feeling and sometimes dark humor is the only way to approach horrible things like murder.

I understand that Bitch recorded a duet with your parents, but I can’t find that track on the album. That track will be on the next one. It’s really hard to schedule my parents into the studio. They’re real prima donnas. It takes a lot. Bitch did a great job, we wrote a great song with my family, but that will be recorded for the next album.

So you already have a sequel in mind? I don’t know what it will be called but I have quite a few songs I recorded that have to wait. More with Ben Lee, Garrison Starr and Jay Brannan, who is an amazing singer-songwriter. Those will be on the next volume.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Crunch time

Jackie Warner, above, the lesbian trainer whose reality series Working Out certainly counts as one of the most artificial and transparently banal of its type, is back on Bravo in a format that better suits her — or at least my tolerance for Warner’s brand of faux toughness. Rather than watching her battle with her equally annoying Russian girlfriend, or acting as if she’s the most important woman in Hollywood, she’s doing what a trainer should do: Train clients.
Thintervention is The Biggest Loser conducted by surprise. Warner takes on eight clients, including a mother and daughter and a gay guy who says he and his partner are “the hottie and the hippo,” getting them to change their diets and reach their exercise goals. The surprise comes as Warner makes unannounced ambush calls on the clients, barging into their homes and throwing out high-fat foods and shaming them into losing pounds and inches.

As weight-loss shows go — and with Loser, Dance Your Ass Off, Celebrity Fit Club and more, there are an astonishing number of them on TV — Thintervention has the Bravo touch, meaning it’s as much about the host as the contestants. But as just one more in a glut of series, this is buoyed more by the presence of Warner’s super-buff gay trainer Craig Ramsay than Warner herself. Still, we’ll take what we can get.

Grade: C+

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Dancing with the Stars announced its newest lineup of second-tier celebs hoping to waltz away with top honors. The most interesting of the bunch are comic and gay fave Margaret Cho, who is having a busy year with a new album and tour, Bristol Palin and Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. How will Cho interact with Palin?  More important, how much more cut will The Situation’s abs get with all that intense cardio?

The rest of the lineup includes Michael Bolton, Florence Henderson, David Hasselhoff and Brandy. And we’ll find out if baby is put into a corner with Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey in the mix.

— Rich Lopez

Thintervention premieres Sep. 6 at 9 p.m. on Bravo. DWTS premieres Sep. 20 at 7 p.m on ABC.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Margaret and Bristol: Will they face off on DWTS?

Margaret Cho, left, and Bristol Palin

I am not a “Dancing With the Stars” fan. I never really even know who is on the show, much less care who wins. But I may have to change that when the new season starts.

According to Kristin Dos Santos at MSNBC.MSN.com, Bristol Palin — daughter of moose killer and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and baby mama to Levi Johnston — and Margaret “Practically A Gay Man” Cho are both going to be DWTS competitors this time around.

Now, I have no idea whether either one of them can dance. They may well have four left feet between them, and it might be the only beats either of them can hit are the ones they accidentally bump into while stumbling around the dance floor. Or they may both absolutely excellent dancers. Truth is, I don’t care about the dancing.

What I am sure of is that if it ever comes down to a battle of wits, Margaret Cho will be the hands-down winner. And that is the one battle I would love to see!

Oh, and Jennifer Grey of “Dirty Dancing” fame, will be competing, along with basketball player Rick Fox, singer Michael Bolton, Audrina Patridge of “The Hills,” The Situation of “Jersey Shore,” David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff, singer Brandy and Florence “Carol Brady” Henderson.

—  admin

Cloris Leachman is pretty cool

The gay community celebrates its old ladies who are cool with gay rights. Since Rue McClanahan died — she who appeared in Dallas last year at a gay event — we’ve apparently switched our focus toward Cloris Leachman.

On Saturday, the 80-year-old Oscar winner and Dancing with the Stars phenom will share grand marshal duties with Harvey Milk’s nephew Stuart in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade. Its her third Pride parade. Way to go, Cloris! You can read about it here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones