Kristy McNichol comes out

There must have been something in the craft services table on the set of the ’70s drama Family. First Meredith Baxter, now co-star Kristy McNichol has come out as lesbian.

In an interview with People magazine, the 49-year-old actress — who won Emmys for Family at ages 14 and 16 and later starred on the sitcom Empty Nest — said it was about time. About two years ago, Baxter, who played McNichol’s sister on the show, also came out.

On Family, McNichol played Buddy, the tomboy youngest sibling. She was always something of a lesbian icon for her rough, no-nonsense persona; on Empty Nest, she played a cop.

Dare we ask… Can Jo from The Facts of Life be far behind?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Taylor Lautner comes out” a fake… but a fun one

I should have known there was not a Christmas miracle.

A People magazine cover shockingly announced Taylor Lautner as “out and proud.” The only thing is, the story is a fake, as our friends at Instinct magazine have pointed out.

Now, I have to admit I’m disappointed, as my obsession with Taylor Lautner (sigh) is well documented. But just because it’s a fake doesn’t mean it’s not true. At least, that’s the position I’m taking….

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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

What’s Brewing: ENDA loses 92 co-sponsors; study estimates 9 million LGB Americans

Chely Wright and Lauren Blitzer

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Last week the re-introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was delayed due to a lack of co-sponsors. Now we can see why. The federal bill to ban anti-LGBT job discrimination was finally re-introduced Wednesday with nearly half the co-sponsors it had in the last session. The number of ENDA co-sponsors is down from 203 in the last Congress to 111 in this one. Republicans, of course, picked up 70 seats in the House last November, but this still leaves a difference of 22. LGBT advocates are downplaying the numbers, saying the bill isn’t going to pass anyway this session so the most important thing is how much educating they’re able to do.

2. Nine million Americans, or about 3.5 percent of the overall population, identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to a new study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

3. Country singer Chely Wright, who came out last year and spoke at Black Die Dinner in Dallas in November, is engaged to LGBT activist Lauren Blitzer, accorrding to People magazine. They plan to marry in August.

—  John Wright

Gay co-producer of ‘Narnia’ films dies at 39

Perry Moore

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Perry Moore, a co-producer of The Chronicles of Narnia film series and the author of an award-winning novel about a gay teenager with superpowers, was found unconscious in his bathroom and died later at a hospital, police said. He was 39.

His father, Bill Moore, told The New York Daily News newspaper in Saturday editions that an initial autopsy was inconclusive. “I have no clue what happened. The examiner said he was in good condition,” Bill Moore said. His father and friends said he suffered from chronic back pain.

Moore was found unconscious in the bathroom of his Manhattan home Thursday, and doctors couldn’t save his life, police said. The cause of death will be determined by the city’s medical examiner, but no foul play was suspected.

Moore had a varied career in television and in film, as producer, screenwriter and director. His 2007 novel, Hero, won the Lambda Literary Award for best novel for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children or adults.

Moore, who was gay, said in an interview on his website that in writing the novel, he had wanted to tell the story of his father, a Vietnam veteran, “and his son.”

“Like most young people, I grew up feeling alienated and different — for very specific reasons in my case — in a place that didn’t value differences,” he said. “I also have this borderline-crazy belief in the power of literature to change the universe. So I’d always wanted to tell this story.”

Moore was an executive producer on all three hugely successful Narnia films, and authored a best-selling illustrated book for the first film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He directed a 2008 drama with Sissy Spacek called Lake City and co-directed a documentary about children’s book author Maurice Sendak with Hunter Hill and Spike Jonze. He scored a “Sexy Man of the Week” rating by People Magazine in 2007.

But it was his novel about a super-powered teenager that seemed to focus his passions. With Hero, he said he hoped to create a gay superhero who was not, he said, a supporting character, victim or token. “I decided I would write the definitive coming-of-age story of the world’s first gay teen superhero,” he said.

It was the death of one of the first prominent gay heroes in the Marvel Comics universe, Northstar, at the hands of X-Men‘s Wolverine, that spurred him to finish the book. He slaughtered the X-Men‘s token gay hero,” Moore said. “I found this story be disturbing, to say the least.”

—  John Wright

‘Women in Media’ graphic novel features Ellen

Bluewater Productions, the same publisher that brought you the Lady Gaga comic, now offers its new graphic novel Female Force: Women in Media available tomorrow in stores. It’s more a compilation of previous comic book editions of biographies on Oprah, Barbara Walters, Meredith Viera and, of course, Ellen.

Not digging the cover all that much. With creepy smiles and heads floating in the clouds, it looks more like a memorial of female TV hosts gone to the great beyond. Just sayin’.

Here’s the word from Bluewater about the new release:

“The collected illustrated life stories of these media power players are together for the first time in this special collectors graphic novel. The ‘Female Force’ series has received international attention from The View, CNN, Vogue Magazine, People Magazine, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and thousands of other media outlets.

“Female Force offers a broad examination of strong and influential women who are shaping modern history and culture. In past issues, the monthly series has featured Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, Margaret Thatcher and others.”

You may want to hold your breath for their upcoming releases. A biography on Betty White is slated for a December release as is Female Force: Sarah Palin, The Sequel. Hopefully, just in time for Christmas!

—  Rich Lopez

A brand new Technicolor life

Country singer Chely Wright, announced this week as BTD’s 2010 Media Award winner, says coming out freed her

RELATED STORY: Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin named keynote speaker

Rich Lopez  |  Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Chely Wright
Chely Wright

“Dallas has been a great market for me,” says Chely Wright.

Truer words might have never been spoken.

The country music star spoke highly of the city when referring to her past concerts here, but she’ll be heading to Dallas this year for a different reason — one that will reinforce her confidence in this city.

Officials with the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that Wright has been chosen to receive the 2010 Media Award during the annual fundraising gala set for Nov. 6.

They also announced that U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the openly lesbian Democrat from Wisconsin, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner.

When Wright came out of the closet in May with her biography, “Like Me,”  the media storm hit full force. She was touted as the first modern country singer to come out of thecloset, and her life story landed her on the cover of People magazine and Oprah.

As the recipient of the Black Tie Media Award, Wright sees it as a step in her reasoning to come out.

“This is noteworthy to be receiving this incredible honor,” she said. “I find it really interesting that this one thing I tried so hard to hide has really set me free. I’ve not only found this gay community but also activist, advocate and civil-minded communities. These are incredible people to be applauded.”

But not only was she setting herself free by coming out, Wright knew that since she was such a public figure, her coming out would facilitate dialogue and education.

Her announcement eclipsed her current album, “Lifted Off the Ground,” and even her career for the past 15 years. But she said she was prepared for that, because it was bigger than just a CD.

“The specific reason I did this in such a grand, comprehensive way was because I was aware this would be discussed,” she said. “As celebrities, we must be aware of our public capital in the community, and there had never been a commercial country artist who acknowledged being gay.

“That’s why I wrote a book, knowing that it was incumbent upon me to do so,” she said.

Along with all that attention came the backlash from both her audiences and the country music industry — no surprise considering it comprises a largely conservative demographic.

Wright said she knew there would be a negative reaction that could possibly put her into “Dixie Chicks vs. Texas” territory. But, she said, the good has outweighed the bad so far.

“I’m aware there are negative comments. No matter what you do, people will hate. On my social networks, we don’t leave them out unless they are overly caustic. We allow that dialogue to happen.

“But I think some of my fans never knew a gay person and thought they were all deviants,” she added. “They see this isn’t the case. Those people are the moveable middle.”

Wright mentions she even received support locally, saying KSCS on-air personality Chris Huff reached out to her after she came out.

To her, that was a step many people in the country music industry are either reluctant to take, or maybe do so quietly.

“Just judging from everything she said and her experiences and the emotions she fought, I think it was a really strong thing that she did,” Huff said. “I can’t imagine what she must’ve gone through the years leading up to that.”

Huff did what, according to Wright, not many have done in her industry. People have reached out to her, but only privately. She said public declarations of support by those in country music are hard to come by.

“Huff was one of the first to e-mail me after coming out.  The industry has a lot of really progressive people, but there are a lot of folks who just reach out privately. All of country music is not homophobic, but people don’t feel like that they can say ‘I’m behind you.’”

So instead, Wright is focusing on the positive support, which she has received from other LGBT celebrities, like Rosie O’Donnell and Lance Bass, and from the fans still coming to get her autograph. She’s even relishing the Prop 8 decision from her West Hollywood home.

But ultimately, she says, she feels simply free.

“Imagine a tiny secret being a big one and have it chasing you around, and you’re afraid. Then, it’s gone. It feels like I’ve retired an 80-hour-a-week job at a factory. There is so much emotional free space.

“I think my life felt like black and white before and now it’s in Technicolor.”

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

—  Michael Stephens