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Archive for July, 2017

First Big Screen Gay Superhero Comes to Florida Supercon in Sequel (Bruce Vilanch Cameos)

Friday, July 21st, 2017

SFGN
First Big Screen Gay Superhero Comes to Florida Supercon in Sequel
JW Arnold
07/19/2017

SFGN_SurgeofPower

Big budget sequels are a given for superhero franchises like Spider Man, Iron Man and Superman, but the world’s first “out” gay superhero, Surge, is finally returning to the big screen after a 13-year hiatus.

Audiences at Florida Supercon will get a look at the final version of “Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel” on July 29 at 1:30 p.m.

Surge, a mild-mannered attorney who gains superpowers to fight homophobia and bullying, is the creation of Vincent J. Roth. Roth, also a corporate attorney by day and cosplay fan, wrote, produced and starred in both indie films.

“I grew up with the ‘Super Friends’ on Saturday morning cartoons and loved (superheroes),” recalled Roth. “For myself, as a boy, not even pre-gay, I hadn’t developed a gay identity. There’s an escapism (to superheroes): the ugly duckling to beautiful swan thing, an ordinary person transforming into the extraordinary, colorful costumes, champions standing up for the underdogs. That’s why people get enamored with them, there’s someone looking out for you.”

The first film, completed in 2004 and featured on the festival circuit, received a limited national distribution (including a run at the Classic Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale in 2006). “Surge” quickly became a cult favorite for its celebrity cameos.

“It’s become part of our shtick,” explained Roth. “With the first film, it was a spoof with the campy flavor of the old Adam West ‘Batman’ TV show. He would have some miscellaneous celebrities pop in and we did that with ‘Surge’.”

Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”), Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane, “The Adventures of Superman”) were among the 20 stars to appear and, when Roth approached them to return for the sequel, they were quick to recruit their friends.

“Revenge of the Sequel” boasts 50 celebrity cameos, including Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen, “The Adventures of Superman”), Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”), Gil Gerard (“Buck Rogers”), Robert Picardo (“Star Trek: Voyager”), comedian Bruce Vilanch and Las Vegas female impersonator and producer Frank Marino.

Work on the sequel began in 2008, but “life got in the way,” said Roth. He began filming scenes in bits and starts before production “rebooted” three years ago. After several focus groups and public screenings—and subsequent tweaks—the final version of the film is headed to Fort Lauderdale.

The movie industry friends who advised Roth “every superhero film should have a sequel” have already been encouraging him to make “Surge” a trilogy and he’s certainly kept that possibility open in the script. He’s also developing “Big City Chronicles,” an internet variety show offering fans short webisodes, behind-the-scenes documentaries and cast interviews.

“It’s a way to keep fans engaged during those in-between times,” he said, while he negotiates a commercial distribution deal for the sequel. “My hope is to expand the (Surge) world even further.”

“Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel” will be screened on Saturday, July 29 at 1:30 p.m. at Florida Supercon, July 27 – 30 at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For a schedule and tickets, go to FloridaSupercon.com. For more information about the film, visit SurgeOfPower.org.

Boulder JFS Presents Reel Hope Boulder: Behind the Screen with Bruce Vilanch

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Boulder Jewish NewsReel Hope Boulder 2017 logo



Boulder JFS Presents Reel Hope Boulder: Behind the Screen with Bruce Vilanch



Boulder Jewish Family Service (JFS) will host its fifth annual fundraiser, “Reel Hope Boulder” on Saturday, October 14 at the Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Avenue. Guests will enjoy an entertaining evening with award-winning writer, comedian, songwriter, and actor Bruce Vilanch. Ron Bostwick, a freelance event producer and announcer, will interview Vilanch to showcase a “behind-the-screen” account of Bruce’s storied decades-long career. Bostwick has interviewed numerous celebrities at the Boulder International Film Festival, as well as featured speakers at three Reel Hope Boulder events.The evening’s schedule will be:

6:30 p.m.:  Sponsor reception with Bruce Vilanch for all sponsors

7:00 p.m.:  Wine and beer reception with substantial hors d’oeuvres

8:00 p.m.:  Program

Sponsorships starting at $540 are available now. Tickets are $90 and go on sale August 28. All proceeds support the life-transforming work of Boulder JFS. For tickets, sponsorships, and more information, visit www.jewishfamilyservice.org/reelhopeboulder or contact Bonni Raderman at 720.749.3404.

 Bruce VilanchAbout Bruce Vilanch

With his unmistakable presence—characterized by a big-girl figure, oversized red glasses, a shaggy blonde mane, and usually a hilarious T-shirt—Bruce Vilanch has been one of Hollywood’s most colorful characters for decades. His campy presence and outrageous apparel only heighten his broad appeal.

He’s known to many as an onscreen character actor and comedian, but Vilanch achieved his biggest successes as a writer for stand-up comics such as Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin, and Rosanne Barr. For many years, he was the go-to comic for stand-up sets and a first-choice writer for events, including the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony telecasts.

A native of Paterson, New Jersey, Vilanch attended Ohio State University as a theater and journalism major. After graduation, he moved into show business professionally, with comic roles in features such as the 1975 Mahogany (as a fashion designer), the 1984 Ice Pirates, the 1986 thriller The Morning After, and the 2008 Adam Sandler comedy You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. On the side, Vilanch did frequent uncredited rewrites of Hollywood features and enjoyed a lengthy and productive tenure as a writer of features for the Chicago Tribune. Vilanch’s professional mainstay, however, remains comedy writing. He was the subject of the all-star 1999 documentary Get Bruce! and played an unforgettable Edna Turnblad in the long-running Broadway musical Hairspray.

About Jewish Family Service of Colorado

Founded in 1872, Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) is a nonsectarian, nonprofit human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder. JFS believes in strengthening our community by providing vital services to people in need. Every day, JFS helps people overcome difficult life’s challenges to live fuller, more meaningful lives.

Boulder JFS is a division of Jewish Family Service that provides older adults and adults with disabilities, their families, and individuals in crisis with services to enhance their quality of life. Boulder JFS provides a wide array of services to help older adults and adults with disabilities live independently and maintain a high quality of life. We work to ensure that older adults in the Boulder community are well cared for—and not alone. For more information, call 303.415.1025 or visit www.jewishfamilyservice.org/boulder. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!


‘Gay Golden Girls’ TV Show Struggles Against Ageism, Not Homophobia

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Unicorn Booty
‘Gay Golden Girls’ TV Show Struggles Against Ageism, Not Homophobia
Written by Drew Mackie on July 4, 2017

2017-07-06_3-08-11

What if The Golden Girls returned to television, but with gay men?

That’s a question that might seem redundant to the series’ gay fans, who have long related to Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia. But now two of the show’s writers, Stan Zimmerman and James Berg, want to make that connection more literal with a revamp of sorts. Should it be realized on the small screen, Silver Foxeswould generate laughs and late-in-life lessons from four older gay men living together.


The show would move the action from Miami to Palm Springs (because obviously), and it already has a great cast in place. George Takei would play a former military man who left the ranks during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era. Bruce Vilanch would play a politically minded firebrand in the style of Dixie Carter from Designing Women. Leslie Jordan would play a character that we hope is more or less Leslie Jordan, and Parks & Recreationalum Todd Sherry would round out the cast as a past-his-prime twink.

 

To many gay fans, that pitch would sound like a slam dunk, especially given that in addition to episodes of Golden Girls, the Zimmerman-Berg team also wrote for Roseanne (including that famous lesbian kiss episode) and Gilmore Girls, as well as the script for A Very Brady Sequel. As he’s worked to move the project forward, however, Zimmerman says the series has encountered some resistance — not for being a gay-centric sitcom but for being one that focuses on older characters.

“I was shocked that still, in this day and age, I couldn’t get a major broadcast network to even read the script. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying,” Zimmerman tells us. “Even going to my producer friends, even some who have deals at studios, they literally said they’ll never make the show. It cut a little deeper for me. It’s become a cause for me to make it happen.”

aid it was strange to feel like progress had been made of the past few decades getting networks to put gay characters onscreen but for ageism to be something people felt free to express outright.

Currently, Zimmerman and Berg have made some progress with outlets such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Zimmerman points out that a service like these might make a great home for Silver Foxes. Hulu has already found considerable success streaming all seven seasons of The Golden Girls, and Netflix’s stable of shows includes multicam sitcoms like Fuller House and the One Day at a Time remake, as well as Grace and Frankie, which also focuses on older characters.

When it comes to those major broadcast networks, Zimmerman, an industry veteran, explained that he’s not protesting rejection but the lack of a chance to even be considered. “It would be one thing if someone read the script and said, ‘I don’t think it’s funny,’ or if we made a pilot and it didn’t test well. To not even get it to the top to be read is just very frustrating.” Consequently, Zimmerman is encouraging anyone who wants to see this show to take to social media and tell networks and streaming services to give Silver Foxes a chance.








we need to keep talking up Silver Foxes. networks are afraid of gay/lesbian themed shows. @HowardStern talked about it today on his show!








Lest network executives forget, the commercial viability of Golden Girls was also questioned before the show proved to be a hit — not just with blue hairs but with viewers across the age spectrum.

“Everybody is chasing the young demographic,” said Vilanch. “No one wants to capture the older audience because they feel they won’t get as much money from them.”

However, Vilanch points out that there are many examples aside from Golden Girls that show this isn’t true. “Murder, She Wrote ran 12 years on a major network and was one of the top five shows — and it clearly skewed to an older demographic. And now, when you read the [TV rating] analysis, you see CBS referred to as ‘older-skewing,’ but they’ve got the raw numbers. They’ve got eyeballs. They’re just older eyeballs, which are not as commercially valuable, but they’re watching all those police procedurals.”

“They need to sell tampons,” Vilanch jokes, “but I suppose the market for tampons, at a certain point, dries up.”

The pilot, as Zimmerman explains it, also allows for the discussion of social issues that affect older people (and older gay people), though in the style of The Golden Girls, it does it in a funny way. The first episode hinges around Takei and Vilanch’s characters visiting Jordan’s character in a rest home, after he burns down his West Hollywood condo in an accident involving a George Foreman grill. When they get there, they find Jordan butching it up and watching the game, only to learn that he felt he had to go back into the closet in this community. (This element was inspired by the documentary Gen Silent, about this very phenomenon as LGBT seniors age.) An ensuing ruckus gets Jordan kicked out, and he comes to live with his friends.

The show would also feature power lesbian next-door neighbors. Played by Cheri Oteri and Daniele Gaither, they’re keen on buying the gents’ home and flipping it.

“Our voices count,” Zimmerman said. “We do buy products, especially for our hair and our faces, and the older we get, the more products we use.”

Vilanch said he hoped the increased attention on social media would make a difference. “I’d really like to do it,” he said. “I want a house at the beach.”

Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr’

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Variety
Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr
By Dennis Harvey
July 3, 2017

thefabulousallancarr_004_allan_in_sunglasses_credit_david_alexander

Taking the same workmanlike, conventional if sprightly approach to mixing talking-head and archival materials he did in “I Am Divine” and “Tab Hunter Confidential,” Schwarz chronicles his subject’s barreling up the entertainment-industry ladder through sheer determination and fandom. The Chicago suburbanite started out investing in legit theater enterprises (invariably involving fabled veteran headliners), moved to TV with the “Playboy’s Penthouse” series, then got involved in event planning (often extravagant showbiz launch parties) and talent management. In the latter vein, his biggest coup was revitalizing the career of Ann-Margret, who in the late ’60s had run her course as an overexposed “sex kitten.” Carr got her a much improved, long-lasting second wind on the Vegas stage, in TV specials and in better movies (including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carnal Knowledge” and “Tommy”).

Beyond producing a number of the broadcast variety specials still popular then, he dabbled in an odd assortment of enterprises wearing various hats: Putting together the Joe Namath-Ann-Margret biker flick “C.C. & Company” (1970); repackaging a cheesy Mexican disaster-cum-cannibal exploitation feature into the incongruously high-grossing “Survive!” (1976); playing key roles in the marketing of 1978’s best picture winner “The Deer Hunter” as well as producer Robert Stigwood’s music-driven hits “Tommy” and “Saturday Night Fever.” That gave him the clout to become the driving force behind a pet project, filming Broadway tuner “Grease” with “Fever”’s John Travolta and pop star Olivia Newton-John. It was a box-office smash, although Carr’s penchant for self-promotion wound up irking co-producer Stigwood, with whom relations became strained.

That was of little concern to Carr, who was now king of the mountain — even if studio executives and others often snickered behind his eccentrically caftan-clad back. If he couldn’t be one of the “beautiful people” (at one point he underwent gastric-bypass surgery to stem his ballooning weight), he could at least surround himself by them, including a stable of fame-aspiring pretty boys. Some of their surviving number, as well as several celebrity pals, attest to his indulgences and generosity here, though also to some drug-fueled mood swings.

The latter — as well as personal tastes more enthusiastic than refined — may have played a role in several spectacular, costly miscalculations. The most infamous was 1980’s tardy disco extravaganza “Can’t Stop the Music,” starring the Village People, Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine and Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn, and alongside Ann-Margret a notable interview holdout here). That $20 million boondoggle was directed by veteran actress Nancy Walker, who had almost no behind-the-camera experience and was dubbed by some participants “Can’t Stop the Cocaine.” Almost equally derided, if not quite as financially catastrophic (and an even bigger subsequent camp “classic”), was 1982’s ill-advised “Grease 2.”

Carr licked his wounds from these and other failures by turning to Broadway, where he assembled the major-league talents that would make the following year’s “La Cage aux Folles” not only a huge hit but the Great White Way’s first fully “out” gay-themed musical. Alas, this comeback triumph would soon be overshadowed by what had seemed his “dream come true” plum assignment: producing the Academy Awards broadcast.

While much of that 61st ceremony in 1989 proved influential (among other things, it introduced staple Bruce Vilanch as head comedy writer), the press heaped scorn on a long, awkward, starry and spoofy opening number that had Snow White (Eileen Bowman) traipsing past various new and aged stars singing nonsensically chosen songs (most infamously Rob Lowe’s rendition of “Proud Mary”). The intended absurdist humor missed the mark, humiliating Carr further when a roster of Hollywood bigwigs including some he considered close friends wrote an open letter castigating the Academy for this “embarrassment.”


While it uses this low ebb as a narrative bookend, “The Fabulous Allan Carr” adds insult to old injury by suggesting it was all Carr’s brainstorm — curiously failing to note that the campy concept and style were lifted whole from long-running San Francisco revue “Beach Blanket Babylon,” whose creator Steve Silver was very much involved in the telecast.

Practically exiled for this “crime,” Carr became a recluse before cancer claimed his life in 1999 at age 62. He did at least live to enjoy a successful 20th-anniversary rerelease of “Grease” the prior year.

A lot of colleagues both famous and non- provide amusing recollections of an over-the-top persona and the glittering excess he liked to surround himself with. One could wish for a less pedestrian package than the one Schwarz has provided (a few brief animations providing the most adventuresome touch), but then this story supplies quite enough kitschy, name-dropping flavor on its own, with or without additional stylistic filigreeing.



Film Review: ‘The Fabulous Allan Carr’


Reviewed online, San Francisco, May 24, 2017. (In Seattle Film Festival, Frameline, Outfest.) Running time: 90 MIN.

Production


(Docu) An Automat Pictures and Lottie & Lorraine Pictures presentation. (International sales: The Film Collaborative, L.A.) Producers: John Boccardo, Jeffrey Schwarz. Co-producers: Larry Spitler, Taki Oldham. Executive producer: David Permut.

Crew


Director: Jeffrey Schwarz. Camera (color, HD): Jeff Byrd, Matt May, Keith Walker. Editors: Carl Pfirman, Schwarz. Music: Michael “The Millionaire” Cudahy.

With


Patricia Birch, Maxwell Caulfield, Steve Guttenberg, Nikki Haskell, Robert Hofler, Randy Jones, Randal Kleiser, Sherry Lansing, Lorna Luft, Michael Musto, Robert Osborne, Brett Ratner, Connie Stevens, Alana Stewart, Marlo Thomas, Bruce Vilanch.