By Romeo San Vicente | Q Syndicate
Ellen’s sitcom factory
The most popular daytime talk show, a line of household products, a real estate hobby that makes her even richer, and, oh yeah, that production company that keeps on aiming to dominate even more of your TV’s screen time — that’s the Ellen DeGeneres Entertainment & Lifestyle Industrial Complex and it is working overtime.
Next up: two new sitcoms given pilot orders. The first one is currently untitled, but will star “Parenthood’s” Monica Potter as a single mother with three ex-husbands who complicate her already busy life. The other one is moving forward with the title “Happy Time” and will star Broadway star and “Let It Go” diva Idina Menzel. This one’s a little different, in that it focuses on a woman in the public eye, someone known for being happy, upbeat and funny all the time, who decides to get real and reveal her true self.
We can’t begin to speculate on which talk show host inspired this, but we’re looking forward to the day that the executive producer explains it all. Here’s hoping they go to series so that Ellen can keep buying up entire sections of the United States. We could use a lesbian king.
Russell T. Davies remembers “The Boys”
The man who reinvigorated “Doctor Who” and created “Queer as Folk,” Russell T. Davies, has plans to return to the dark days of the 1980s. In the larger cultural memory, that was a decade of neon-colored clothes and partying, but for gay men it was a time of terror, due to the emergence of AIDS. And while TV films like “The Normal Heart,” and a few features like “Longtime Companion” and “Parting Glances,” have visited that era, there simply hasn’t been much in the way of dramatic exploration of that time, considering the impact of the disease.
Davies’ new project, “The Boys,” will approach that time in England from the position of both insider and outsider, with a female protagonist. It turns out that Davies has a female friend he’s known since his teen years, a woman who was friends with and caretaker to a group of gay men who died over those years, whom he describes as his “hero.” In the writing stage now, look for it on American cable sometime in the next couple of years.
Baz Luhrmann makes plans to “Get Down”
“Moulin Rouge!” director Baz Luhrmann has decided to follow up his extravagantly contemporary take on “The Great Gatsby” with another “now” move: a show on Netflix. The streaming service has given the filmmaker a 13-episode order for a new series called “The Get Down.” Co-created with “The Shield’s” Shawn Ryan, the series will take place in 1970s New York City during the grimiest and most violent period of its recent history.
A crew of South Bronx teenagers, on their own and going nowhere, take part in the invention of hip-hop and street art. In turn, they become a part of the larger cultural fabric that saw disco give way to punk rock, as a vibrant cross-pollination takes hold at the dawn of the ’80s.
We don’t know anything about casting yet, but it’s safe to say we’ll see a lot of fresh young up-and-comers — if only to counteract the production costs this visionary creator likes to run up in the name of making everything look really cool.
The young Dan Savage chronicles
From alternative weekly sex columnist to “This American Life” fixture to news pundit to creator of the “It Gets Better” project, Dan Savage’s career path has been idiosyncratic and totally independent, the picture of not being co-opted by large, powerful corporations. Except now he has a sitcom at ABC. OK, a sitcom “pilot,” but still, if it goes to series and is successful, you’ll be hearing a whole lot more from Dan Savage outside of his appearances on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” thanks to all that ABC marketing muscle.
The project has no title just yet, but it’s based on Savage’s own childhood, and it revolves around a little gay boy who comes out and turns his formerly “picture perfect” suburban family upside down.
Another thing to think about if this goes to series: It will be the first time a gay kid has been the main character on an American sitcom. So let’s root for that.
—Romeo San Vicente’s “It Gets Better” video was rated NC-17 and banned from YouTube. He can be reached care of this publication or at DeepInsideHollywood@qsyndicate.com.