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February 2007

Let’s start off this edition of 15mm by keeping it gay…

“For a while, Isaiah Washington was actually going to get away with it. I’m talking about how things felt before the Official Entertainment Remorse Machine kicked in — the denial, then the half-baked small apology, then the more impressive, bigger, ”I’m scared” apology (the one that goes, ”I have sinned, I must look deep inside myself and deal with my issues, I shall summon leaders of the offended community to meet with me”) with a side order of official corporate rebuke, presumably followed by regret-soaked on-air interviews and a group hug. For three months, all the evidence suggested that everyone — Washington, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, Touchstone TV, and ABC — had decided it was no big deal for an actor to refer to a gay colleague as a ”faggot” on the set and that if everyone just averted their eyes, the word would become a tiny speed bump that a show could bounce over without looking back.

Forgive my skepticism, but I’m not a huge fan of apologies that come only after an evident threat to one’s livelihood; I have difficulty believing that they spring spontaneously from a troubled soul. After all, it wasn’t until Washington used the word again (during his ”denial” at a press session after the Golden Globes), and two of his castmates called him on it, that a public outcry forced the issue. After Mel Gibson’s Driving While Anti-Semitic bust, he was probably still looking for a post-mug-shot clean shirt when acts of contrition started flying out of his publicist’s fax machine. And Michael Richards still had his own racist slurs ringing in his ears when he threw himself on the mercy of David Letterman. So why did it take a producer, a show, a network, and a corporation such an unconscionably long time to locate their sense of the right thing to do?

If I sound grudging about Washington’s apology, it’s not because I don’t believe him (I suppose time will tell if he’s sincere). It’s because now that he’s started the Machine, everyone is reading from the same script, and we already know how this trite old plot plays out. Pop culture (and that includes all of us who are pop culture consumers) has become addicted to a cycle of misbehavior followed by regret followed by a warm wallow in forgiveness in which we agree to pretend that saying you’re sorry undoes whatever was done. And anyone who isn’t willing to play that game gets labeled a bad sport or a sore winner.

So, at the risk of sounding uncharitable, let me hold off on accepting that apology for a moment. Considering that everyone in a position to do something about it was content to let the word faggot hang in the air all winter, I’m sure they’ll indulge me if I mention a few regrets of my own.

I’m sorry that the first time this happened, Shonda Rhimes, whose commitment to on-air diversity is evident (even if the evidence stops short of including an actual gay staffer at Seattle Grace), thought it was okay to write this off as a private affair rather than immediately let the many offended fans of her show know how hateful she thought that epithet was.

I’m sorry that T.R. Knight, the target of Washington’s slur who came out following the incident, didn’t have the instant, unqualified, and loudly public (because that matters) support of every one of his colleagues. I’m sorry that the overall non-reaction to Washington’s behavior helped to reinforce a perception that some quarters of the African-American community tolerate homophobia, a stereotype that is only going to divide us more unless both groups fight it at every turn.

I’m sorry that it took ABC half the TV season to remind itself of its corporate responsibility. I’m sorry that not a single sponsor of Grey’s Anatomy had the guts to speak up, even last week. I’m sorry that we in the gay community didn’t make a lot more noise about this a lot sooner. I’m sorry that so many actors choose — and it is, whatever they tell themselves, a self-serving choice — to stay in the closet, since the more out actors there are, the less okay homophobia in entertainment becomes. I’m sorry that there aren’t more gay characters on television: I don’t want quotas or tokens, but I do think that shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Lost and Heroes, which pride themselves on the variety of their ensembles, could expand their vision to better reflect their world, since series ranging from The Office to The Wire have shown that it’s not so hard. Most of all, I’m sorry that the rerun ritual that Washington’s apology invites us to watch is likely to obscure all this.

Anyone who calls a colleague a faggot and manages not to get fired should count himself lucky. But Washington’s use of the word didn’t break anything that wasn’t already broken, and his apology won’t fix it any more than his dismissal. For all the progress that has been made fighting homophobia, and for all the ways in which the entertainment industry has led that fight, we clearly have miles to go. The problem is a lot bigger than Isaiah Washington, and the solution doesn’t come gift-wrapped in the words ”I’m sorry.”

I can’t claim ownership of that viewpoint: It was written by Mark Harris. I found it an incredible piece of writing and wanted to share it with my readers.

I’ve officially jumped on the high-def DVD bandwagon. It was inevitable. I don’t pride myself on being a first-generation buyer of gadgetry, but my good sense went totally out of the window when it was announced that Toshiba was releasing the SECOND generation HD-DVD player (HD-A2). This meant a faster, more efficient machine that hopefully fixed some of the bugginess in the first Toshiba players. So far, my initial views of this new technology have been amazing.

WARNING: The following statements may confuse some readers not familiar with home-theater geek speak…

Whether you’ve got a 720p, 1080i or 1080p player, the dvd image quality is flawless on films like T3, Superman Returns, Willy Wonka and the Choco Factory and King Kong. Kong should actually be used as a reference disk for visuals, while V for Vendetta makes for a spectacular disc to show off a well set-up surround system. Some discs still look a little soft (Italian Job), but the image is still better than any standard DVD could provide.

Regular DVD up conversion is strong. Right on-par with my Denon 5910. The picture was clean, block-free and up converted well to my 63″ JVC-HDILA screen. All connections were made using the HDMI interface. Audio was supplied through TOS-link cable. The HD-A2 can also supply loss-less sound and newer sound formats (Dolby HD, HD-Plus, DTS-HD) through its component audio connections, which is something the first-generation players could not do. Both TOS-link and digital coax connections will down convert the surround mix to DTS, as they both can’t handle the bandwidth needed for the full mix. HDMI connected through an HDMI-capable receiver can also handle the full
sound capabilities.

For more on HD-DVD, check this website out.

This past few weeks had me traveling to both New York City (where, again, I caught up with the glamourous Sutton Foster in ‘Drowsy Chaperone’) and Rio for Carnaval. Everytime I’m back in the Apple, it seems to become more and more friendly. While once it was a city I dreaded coming to, I’m now quite smitten with how intimate and romantic the city can be. Sure, the Colombus Circle area can smell like trash between the hours of 9 and 11 am, but hey, if you get an occasional whiff of used Starbucks coffee grounds and hot-dog vendors in the park, it ain’t that bad. As with everything in life, you pick your battles. My battles in New York are ones of communication… With cabbies, I mean.

I’m on a new workout regime, which has me cutting out fat and ramping up on the yoga, kickboxing and ‘less weight, more reps’ ideology. I’ve always been a firm believer in classes, getting away from the weight room now and then, learning (or keeping) flexibility and conditioning your heart in a whole other sense. It’s funny to me that 95% of the guys I workout with in the gym couldn’t make it even halfway through a Bikram yoga or kickboxing class. Their energy level is short-burst only, making any stamina almost non-existent.

I’ve also switched supplements. I’m now on a stack of Controlled Labs White Blood, Green Bulge and Blue Rhino. I’ve seen a huge difference in my workouts and since starting with them (about 3 weeks now), I’ve seen a 2% drop in bodyfat while maintaining most of my overall weight. Remember, you’re always wanting to lose FAT, not MUSCLE. It’s a big reason why people who only take diet pills or fat burners also tend to become weak (as they get thinner). They don’t realize that they’re burning as much muscle as fat. Not good.

Times Square is plastered with ads for the Broadway-bound Legally Blonde musical, as well as the sullen teenage crowd gathering around the more-rock-than-Rent-musical, Spring Awakenings. I got my candy fix on Rivington St and enjoyed some post-theatre grub at The Spotted Pig, a gastropub that’s popular with the hipster set in the West Village. I had thought I caught Toby Maguire off of his strictly veggie-macrobiotic-ubercool diet when I saw him eating what appeared to be a hamburger, but sadly it turned out to be ground shitake mushrooms instead of beef. I momentarily contemplated putting some of my lamb in his bun as he was going to the bathroom, but feared that I’d possibly kill him and then I’d never know how the Raimi-Spiderman saga would end.

Well, that and the thought that they’d replace him with Josh Hartnett.

Thinking back now, I should have done it. Regret is a bitch.

I know I wasn’t the only one to connect the dots on this season’s American Idol regarding going-to-Hollywood contestant Tom Lowe (above and below) and his connection to the male escort world. Here was one of his ‘working’ pics:

Seems this talented dude once served his public QUITE well as a rentboy early on in his career. With those looks and body, I’m not shocked. Rumor has it that there might be a connection between Simon Cowell and Lowe, dating back to his sex-for-hire days. It’s common knowledge that Cowell had signed Lowe to a recording contract years ago for his British label. Now it seems that Lowe wants to take a bite out of US audiences, but sadly he was cut from the competition before the top 24 were picked. He would have been the only openly gay AI contestant thus far.

Speaking of Idol: Another congrats to Haley Scarnato for belting out her signature ‘Celine’ song and while she didn’t wow the judges this time, she did make it to the next round. Take a look at her performance last week and judge for yourself…

I didn’t think she did terribly. She just seemed nervous. Next week she’ll need to really sell her song rather than just sing it. She’s got the chops. With her beauty, personality and voice, I easily see her making Top 10.


Did anyone catch Broadway’s original Dreamgirl Jennifer Holiday and her insane performance on E! just before the Oscar ceremony started? Singing from the rooftops, Quasimodo-style, Hudson was a mess of facial contortions, turning a once showstopping song (‘And I am Telling You..’) into a total farce.

It wasn’t so much the song that inspired feelings of disgust on my part as much as it was the interview with her afterwards. She ranted about Jennifer Hudson getting too much of the spotlight for her portrayal in the film, as well as not being invited to cameo. Holiday’s doing her level best to live through a character that she created well-over 15 years ago when in-fact she should be letting it go and tactfully passing the torch.

Not Holiday. She’s going down with the ship. I’ve known shooting victims who hold less of a grudge…

And now, an open letter to Ms. Jennifer Holiday:

You are an embarrassment.

You are still the destructive vortex of ego, paranoia and self-entitlement you were 25 years ago which is why people are not knocking on your door for the chance to work with you.

Seriously. Get over it, Jennifer.

You scream about not working and then when you DO get work playing Effie in Atlanta a few years back, you missed 3 days of rehearsals.

Yes, you delivered an iconic showstopper. It was 25 years ago- move on. The reason you do not get offers is because you are a nightmare to work with. I don’t know if you are bi-polar or just a nasty person but at this point I don’t care.You are doing your best to taint the day for Jennifer Hudson. That is unforgivable.

There would still have been an Effie without YOU because there was a Florence Ballad. Stop grandstanding and embarrassing yourself and when and if you ever stop acting like a petulant Norma Desmond clone, feel free to re-join reality.

As Janet Jackson sang: What have you done for US lately?

I hope Miss Hudson has good bodyguards because I can see your loony self trying to take to the stage. Can you imagine Julie Andrews barking out ‘Wouldn’t it be Loverly’ outside the Oscars while Audrey Hepburn sat inside? No, because these ladies have some class.

Okay, I admit it. Somewhere inside of me there was a small hope that Holiday would actually jump off the building mid-song. Just a quick step backwards during a long note. That would have been a real showstopper, but i’m sure she would have just found a way to say she ‘originated’ that fall and how everyone in the action-adventure film genre has been ripping her off for the last 50 years.

Congrats Jennifer Hudson: You have finally arrived (and kicked the shit vocally out of Beyonce when performing on the Oscars) . Now please don’t go and pull a Halle Berry and forever-more tarnish that Oscar by starring in truly shit movies. An Oscar winner wearing a lower-than-Raquel-Welch-Collection wig like she did in X-Men just isn’t right. They probably had to kill off Patrick Stewart just because she wanted more dialogue in the next one. I hope they bring Jean Luc back.

Damn, I got off track. Okay, now back to JHud kicking the vocal wind out of weave-tastic Beyonce. Take a gander:

I’ve added some new video from Carnaval in Rio, as well as new personal and travel pics in my Google Galleries. Getting there is easy, so just CLICK and check them out.

A shout-out to the chatters who are making the real-time window below a rather happening (and hot) place to be. I try to stop in every now and then to see what’s cooking. I’ve now registered ‘BenjaminNicholas’ on the system, so you can always be assured that when you see that name in the chatters list, it’s really me. I encourage anyone who wants to confirm their screename to register it immediately. It’s easy and singing in and out only takes a second.

WHACKOFF of the WEEK for this edition is an established blog featuring some of the best (and newest) pics out there. Updated frequently. Enjoy by clicking HERE.

Speaking of pics to have a whack-attack with, anyone seen the new all-new, all-nude Harry-Potter-peter-pics? Try saying that 10x fast… Whether it’s a good photoshop job or the real deal, get a load of Radcliffe’s nads HERE.

Look for a complete trip report on Brazil and Carnaval next week, along with info on how to make your own Rio trip a complete success. I’m also going one-on-one with the owners of the highly popular travel site. If anyone in Rio knows where to find the hottest gay action, it’s definitely them. In addition to that, look for a report on the very latest in skin care products. Everyone wants to look their best and anyone who knows me also knows that I take excellent care of myself. I’m not only sharing the info, I’m sharing the love!

I bid you adieu with the freshest EYE CANDY I could get my hands on… I’d wait a few minutes before consuming, as they’re just hot out of the oven. *wink*


‘I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.’ — Bill Cosby