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‘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


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.”

Bruce Vilanch Is Hysterical In THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Broadway World
BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber
March 9, 2015
by Gil Kaan


Kritzerland Presents The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber/produced & hosted by Bruce Kimmel/musical direction by Lloyd Cooper/Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal

On March 8, the 55th version of Kritzerland At Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal followed its successful formula of monthly themed cabarets with The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Bruce Kimmel, a most amiable host, intros each song with a tiny encyclopedia of fun trivia, some of which are yet new to the Sondheim and Webber aficionados. Kimmel even sang some warring salvos that he envisioned Sondheim and Webber might have sent each other, re-BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webberwriting the lyrics to “Agony” and “Music of the Night.” Too funny!

The sixteen songs selected from the Sondheim and Webber canons receive delicious execution from the collective melodic vocal talents of Stan Chandler, Kevin Earley, Kimberly Hessler, Valerie Perri, Sue Raney, Bruce Vilanch (yes, the comedian does sing, and well!), and Adrienne Visnic.

The rich-voiced Visnic amusingly opens the evening with “Invocation and Instructions to the Audience” from Sondheim’s Frogs. Later Visnic just kills it with her “Getting Married Today” from Sondheim’s Company. Her machine gun vocals use the same sped-up tempo Madeline Kahn used in 1970’s Company. Bulls-eye, Ms. Visnic

Hessler’s gorgeous operatic tones in “Half a Moment” from Webber’s By Jeeves totally reminiscent of the ideal Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.

BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd WebberChandler and Earley duet with well-matched booming voices and competing egos on Sondheim’s genius comic tune “Agony” from Into the Woods. Chandler’s lilting high tenor notes sustain beautifully in his ending of “Love Changes Everything” from Webber’s Aspects of Love. Earley wonderfully displays his comic timing in “Make the Most of Your Music” from Sondheim’s Follies and his wi-i-ide vocal range in “Music of the Night” from Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

Perri readily combines her acting prowess with her strong vocals in “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from his Sunset Boulevard.

The always hysterical Vilanch loses his mind in “Losing My Mind” from Sondheim’s Follies, but manages to find it to tell a very funny, very timely joke involving Harrison Ford with Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly and Hillary Clinton. Comedic gold, Vilanch is!

BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd WebberRaney showed all she still has what it takes to sell a song in her slowed down version of “Send in the Clowns” from Sondheims’ A Little Night Music. Shelly Markham superbly accompanied Ms. Raney.

The masterful musical director Lloyd Cooper, backing up all the other performers, worked his magic; converting his single piano sound into what seemed a full section of harmonizing instruments. Very nice!

The 56th edition of Kritzerland Presents will be on Sunday April 5.

Bruce Vilanch To Be Celebrity Judge For The Second Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Stoli® Gives Bartenders a Shot at Cocktail Glory with its Second Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic

4-27-2013 4-00-51 AM

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/—Stoli® Vodka, in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, today announced its second annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic – North America’s largest annual LGBT cocktail competition. The mix-off sees bartenders showcase their skill and ingenuity as they battle to be crowned the 2015 Cocktail Classic Champion at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2015.

Using Stoli Vodka as their primary ingredient, participants in 14 cities across North America will create an original cocktail for a panel of local celebrity judges, who will evaluate the drinks on uniqueness, taste and appearance. Aside from being crowned the 2015 Cocktail Classic Champion, the winner will ride in the Key West Pride Parade as the Honorary Grand Marshall and receive $5,000 for a LGBT or LGBT-friendly charity of their choice.

“It is an honor to host the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, North America’s largest annual LGBT cocktail competition,” said Patrik Gallineaux, the national LGBT Ambassador for Stoli. “Our community’s hard-working nightlife professionals often do not receive the recognition they deserve. It is amazing to see what our nation’s bartenders can do with their imagination, their cocktail shaker and Stoli THE Vodka!”

In partnership with the Key West Business Guild, an organization of LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly businesses in Key West, the competition will be hosted by Gallineaux and TV personality Jai Rodriguez. It will also feature a panel of celebrity judges including clothing designer Andrew Christian; legendary funnyman Bruce Vilanch; actress and singer LaToya London; and Key West personality and star of the annual New Year’s Eve High Heel Drop, Sushi.

“The LGBT community has some of the most inventive bartenders in the country,” said Matt Hon, executive director of the Key West Business Guild. “Through the Key West Cocktail Classic, they’re getting the opportunity to showcase their creativity and put a spotlight on the community. Key West, especially during Pride week, is the perfect stage to recognize them and the contributions they make to nightlife.”

The cocktail classic will take place at 14 events in the following participating cities:

Dallas – March 2
Los Angeles – March 15
Denver – March 30
Miami/Fort Lauderdale – April 6
New York – April 9
Chicago – April 15
Washington D.C. – April 20
San Diego – April 23
Philadelphia – May 5
Toronto – May 7
Boston – May 12
Vancouver – May 14
Seattle – May 17
San Francisco – May 27
Key West (Finale) – June 13

A maximum of seven bartenders will be selected to participate in each local event. For more information about the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic including how to apply, rules, guidelines and the full schedule of events, visit

About Stoli Group USA, LLC
Stoli Group USA, LLC is the North American subsidiary of SPI Group, recognized globally for pioneering heritage and the outstanding Stolichnaya® brand of premium vodkas. New York-based Stoli Group USA reflects significant growth investment in the U.S. market by parent company SPI Group and will drive the brand forward through new marketing, sales and brand innovation. Internationally distributed Stolichnaya vodkas are bottled in Latvia and are known for award-winning flavor and impeccable clarity. Considered a trailblazer in the vodka industry, Stolichnaya vodka defines the benchmark for quality with meticulously crafted liquid that meets the highest Alpha Spirit standard. The Stolichnaya brand portfolio includes Stolichnaya® Premium Vodka, ultra-premium elit™ by Stolichnaya®, Stolichnaya® 100 Proof Premium vodka, the super-premium Stolichnaya® Gold and Stolichnaya® Flavored Premium vodkas including Ohranj®, Razberi®, Vanil®, Citros™, Peachik® and Hot™. For more information visit or follow on Facebook at and on Twitter @Stoli.

About Key West Business Guild
The mission of the Key West Business Guild is to promote LGBT travel to Key West through marketing and the promotion of specialty events; to support gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses; to strengthen the Gay community’s position within the local community by supporting relevant LGBT issues. The KWBG was founded in 1978 by 8 local gay business owners and has grown to approximately 400 members, which work together to continue efforts to brighten the rainbow over the island, an island now known as Gay Key West. Promotion of events, such as Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest, has made Key West a year-round LGBT travel destination.

Why are Bruce Vilanch, LeAnn Rimes, Adam Lambert, Tim Gunn, Cloris Leachman and a host of other celebrities flipping the bird?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Windy City Times
Friend Movement combats bullying, builds bridges
by Terri-Lynne Waldron


Why are Bruce Vilanch, LeAnn Rimes, Adam Lambert, Tim Gunn, Cloris Leachman and a host of other celebrities flipping the bird?

As the branding image behind the anti-bullying campaign Friend Movement, the photos show celebrities holding their blurred out middle finger up to the camera in an effort to raise awareness about bullying. Out director/activist Elliot London and openly gay actor/model/activist Ronnie Kroell are the creators behind the controversial campaign that was designed to turn the F-word into the new F-word (“friend’).

“We knew going into this that the middle finger has a lot of negative connotations,” explained Kroell, a Chicago native. “But much of what Friend Movement is trying to do is take a negative and turn it into a positive. It was important for us to make a statement and say that this is not a literal campaign, it is very figurative and it’s about empowerment and it’s about your inner monologue.”

Friend Movement was conceived after Kroell and London were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. Both men thought to combine their independent projects and create one anti-bullying campaign.

“I was working on a film project and Ronnie was working on a campaign project and both our projects really needed a lot of love,” said London who is originally from Australia and got his start as an intern on The Jerry Springer Show. “We decided to figure out how to combine forces and that’s how Friend Movement came along.”

Both Kroell and London were bullied as kids. Kroell was called a ‘faggot’ and had his pants pulled down at school and London was also called a ‘faggot’ and was spit on while riding the bus to Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Illinois. London recently went back to his high school to film a narrative short as part of the campaign. The premise of the film is to capture the stories of kids who have been bullied.

“Each student from the school created the anti-bullying film project and we went in and brought a Hollywood crew and gave it the Hollywood feel,” said London of the project they hope to have finished by late July. “It gives the students self-empowerment, it gets the people involved and it is conversation. This is something that we want to add to what Friend Movement is all about, which is going to high schools across the country and even across the world and bringing them the mentors and the help and bringing a voice to these projects.”

On July 1, Friend Movement held a benefit concert celebrating music and friendship with proceeds going towards their campaign. The concert featured the likes of LeAnn Rimes, The Voice contestants Frenchie Davis and Dia Frampton, Abraham Lin (The Glee Project) and singer Austin Brown, who is Michael Jackson’s nephew. Actress Hana Mae Lee, from the film Pitch Perfect, hosted the show.

Friend Movement has reached out to the fundraising website to raise money for an upcoming cross-country tour that will get the word out about the campaign in an innovative way. The plan is to shoot 10,000 photos in 90 days across 40 cities.

‘’Raising our $99,000 goal on will allow us to go to these 40 cities and take these photos for free for anyone that shows up,” said Kroell. “Not only take their photo but talk to us about their experiences being bullied and why it’s important for them to be a part of the campaign and be a friend.”

London and Kroell work 24/7 to give the campaign worldwide attention. But the success of the project is of no surprise for two guys who had big imaginations and big ambitions growing up.

“Being an only child is really helpful in a way because we never really had the barriers, so for the both of us we just do what we can do,” said London. “We’re not afraid to reach for the stars and push our limits.”

Kroell is quick to point out that Friend Movement reaches out to people from all communities, no matter their sexual orientation.

“I think one of the things that is important about this campaign is that it’s not just an LGBT campaign,” he clarified. “While we’re finding support and strength from our family and friends in the LGBT community, it’s really important to know that bullying doesn’t discriminate. As Friend Movement continues to move forward the reason why it’s going to be so powerful is that it is all about building bridges and uniting us together to really find answers.”

LA Based Photographer Seeking Vermont Subjects

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
LA Based Photographer Seeking Vermont Subjects
Tom Atwood

Greetings. I am a photographer who grew up in Shelburne, VT and now lives in LA.

I’m seeking subjects for a sequel photography book who are gay (men or women), live in Vermont and have either a truly unique living space (quirky, odd, unusual), or live in a pastoral Vermont setting, even a farmer would be ideal.

I’ll be back in VT around August 21st and was hoping to locate a subject or two.

The series features portraits of gay men and women at home including John Waters, Todd Oldham, Edward Albee, Joel Schumacher, George Takei, Tommy Tune, Christopher Ciccone, Don Bachardy, Tab Hunter, Barney Frank, Bruce Vilanch, Ross Bleckner, Simon Doonan, Michael Cunningham, Ned Rorem, Junior Vasquez, John Ashbery, Carson Kressley, David Del Tredici, Edmund White, John Bartlett and others.

The series seeks to highlight positive role models for our nation’s GLBT youth. The first book reached people on national television and radio, as well as in over 150 publications in over a dozen countries including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New Yorker, Elle, Out, The Advocate, The Art Newspaper, Artforum, Art Ltd., Photo Life, Photo Selection and The Photo Review.

Photos from the series also won first place in Portraiture from London’s Worldwide Photography Gala Awards, first place in Portraiture in the Prix de la Photographie Paris competition, as well as additional awards from the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Center for Fine Art Photography, Manhattan Arts International, Artrom Gallery Guild (Rome), Kodak,CameraArts Magazine, Photo Life Magazine, Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Graphis and Applied Arts.

The series, Kings in Their Castles, can be previewed at:

If you’re aware of any subjects, feel free to reach me at this email or 310-503-7800. Of if you know of anyone who might know or know of a VT newsgroup where this message could be posted, feel free to forward this to them or post this.

Thanks so much.