Q offers the next Sandra Bernhard experience

Sandra Bernhard

Sandra Bernhard’s take-no-prisoners approach to performing has always deserved a regular prime-time television outlet. In 2001, A&E gave her a talk show, “The Sandra Bernhard Experience,” that was just too brilliant to live for very long so it didn’t. But now another chance has come along on the gay cable channel Q Television Network.

The progressive, witty, sharp-tongued Bernhard has already begun co-hosting duties on the “Queer Edge with Jack E. Jett” talk show, a “temp job” that will last for 40 episodes. In the meantime, the network is negotiating with the entertainer to develop her own series, though what that might entail is still under discussion.

But with Bernhard at the wheel, expect bold opinions, fascinating guests and a healthy dose of the unexpected.

Thompson’s animated Buddy
Former “Kids in the Hall” star Scott Thompson is finding that mining the past can open doors in the present. His “Kids” character Buddy Cole, the old-school flamboyant gay bar owner, will soon be made even more cartoonish than he was before. Here TV has announced a half-hour adult animated series called “Buddy’s,” created by Thompson and centered on the adventures of Cole.

The show will take Buddy off his “Kids” barstool and out into the world, where he’ll have to deal with local “family values” officials and the complications of becoming an unwilling parent to his orphaned niece.

The show is currently in development and should see the light of day sometime later this year. And if it’s half as funny as Thompson’s “Kids” sketches were, “Buddy’s” might just end up being the coolest program on Here.

Fincher grabs hold of “‘Torso’
Director David Fincher (“Fight Club”) is working on his “Torso” for Paramount Pictures. The stylish filmmaker has taken on the thriller based on a graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis one of the top writers in comics and openly gay comics writer Marc Andreyko, whose gay-inclusive “Manhunter” has received wide acclaim.

“Torso” tells the true story of the move to Cleveland by Eliot Ness, after his days of hunting Al Capone, to be the city’s public-safety officer. When human torsos begin appearing in the river and Ness receives taunting notes from the killer, he puts together a team of ex-officers to nab the murderer.

The project has just been announced, so look for the finished product sometime in 2007, not long after “Zodiac,” another true-life serial killer project that Fincher’s working on with “Brokeback Mountain” star Jake Gyllenhaal.

Gays with a “‘Secret’
Who better to suss out who’s keeping a big secret than a group of gay panelists?

That’s the logic behind the Game Show Network’s recent announcement that it will begin airing a revival of the classic show “I’ve Got a Secret.” On “Secret,” a contestant appears before a panel, the audience is told the contestant’s secret, and the panelists have to guess what it is.

In this updated version, though, the twist is that the show’s panel will be composed solely of openly gay media personalities. The lineup consists of radio host/humorist Frank DeCaro, comedian Susanne Westenhoefer, retired major-league baseball player Billy Bean and Broadway actor Jermaine Taylor. Bil Dwyer (“Extreme Dodgeball”) will host. Look for the queer-centric “Secret” later this year.

A fond farewell
The name Dr. Stanley Biber may not be a household word to most Americans, but to many transsexuals he was a king.

Biber, who said he performed more than 4,500 gender reassignment operations during his career, died Monday, a friend and funeral home operator said. He was 82.

“We’ve lost a tremendous friend in our community,” said Mary Winder, owner of the Cormi Funeral Home in Trinidad, a town of 9,300 near the Colorado-New Mexico border.
Winter said Biber was her family’s doctor for generations.
“He was just a great man,” she said.

An Iowa native, Biber moved to Trinidad in 1994. As the town’s only general surgeon, he delivered babies, removed appendixes and performed other more routine operations. He said he performed his first gender reassignment surgery in 1969 after talking to a New York physician who had some experience with them and getting sketches from Johns Hopkins University.

Word spread, and at one point he was performing 150 such operations a year, he said. He stopped doing the surgeries in 2003 and closed his practice in 2004, saying insurers refused to renew his malpractice coverage.

Published reports have said that Biber at one time performed up to half the world’s gender reassignment operations annually.

Residents of Trinidad said the town was largely accepting of Biber’s sex change practice. Mayor Harry Hayre said Biber was a pillar of the community.
“I consider him probably one of the outstanding leaders in Trinidad in the last century,” Sayre said.

Biber’s protege, Dr. Marci Bowers, underwent gender reassignment surgery several years ago and now performs an average of five such operations a week in Trinidad.

“I think he put the operation on the world map,” Bowers said. “He made it safe, reproducible and functional and he brought happiness to an awful lot of people.”

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