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Volume 15/Issue 16

by PlanetOut,, a Worldwide Online Community of Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans People

5 Emmy Nominations for Ellen

Right-wing groups may be distressed that the lead character on ABC's "Ellen" became the first ever to come out as an open gay or lesbian, but the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) has given both the show and its now-openly lesbian star Ellen DeGeneres a strong show of support with the announcement this morning of nominations for the 49th Primetime Emmy Awards. The series and its coming out "Puppy Episode" garnered five nominations, while DeGeneres herself not only shared in those, but also helped win a handful of nominations for HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," which featured an episode that satirized the months-long media frenzy buildup to the coming out of the star and her character.

DeGeneres was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on "Ellen" and for Best Guest Performance in a Comedy Series for appearing as herself on "Larry Sanders" in "Ellen, or Isn't She?" DeGeneres also had a story credit for "The Puppy Episode," which was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, a category in which it will compete with her "Sanders" appearance. "The Puppy Episode" also won nominations for Gil Junger for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series and for Kris Trexler for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing.

ATAS President Rich Frank said of DeGeneres, "Ellen is going to be a star for a long time. The entire gay issue is just is just another issue. She's an unbelievable talent.

ABC Entertainment President Jamie Tarses, slightly demoted after having someone moved into a new slot above her several months before her first schedule hits the airwaves, said a few words to the press July 23 about the future of "Ellen." "Ellen will, at some point or another, be dating or pursuing relationships, but that is a bit down the line," she said. "Our feeling is that this is a realization that the character has just made, and now must explore making that decision.... It's going to be about baby steps for this character to get comfortable with the decision she's made." Although it's probably safe to say that a large majority of lesbians come out as the result of a relationship, and most of the rest come out eager to pursue one, Tarses feels that it's the nature of the character to "equivocate on any and all things." When asked specifically about kissing, Tarses responded, "You know, we haven't gotten that far down the line."

Gay and lesbian influences were present in other Emmy nominations as well. HBO, which has been a pioneer in presenting gay- and lesbian-themed material, made history by becoming the first cable network to lead in total awards, edging out broadcast leader NBC by one. "The Larry Sanders Show" contributed 16 nominations (including those for "Ellen, Or Isn't She?") to HBO's total of 90, a record for most nominations for a comedy in a single year, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for Gary Shandling.

HBO took five more nominations with the gay- and AIDS-themed drama special "In the Gloaming," including nominations for lead actress Glenn Close, supporting actress Bridget Fonda, and for Christopher Reeve's directorial debut, as well as Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie.

Another HBO candidate for Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie is its risky dramatic realization of open lesbian Dorothy Allison's autobiographical "Bastard Out of Carolina," with nods for Glenne Headley's supporting actress performance and Anjelica Huston's first directing effort.

HBO will also see competition between its own products in several categories as gay icons Bette Midler and Tracey Ullman dominated the Variety/Music specials areas with "Diva: Las Vegas" (10 nominations) and "Tracey Takes On... Childhood" (4 nominations). A special centered on another gay icon, Elizabeth Taylor, the AIDS benefit tribute "Happy Birthday, Elizabeth," won a technical award nomination.

Meanwhile, back in traditional broadcasting, NBC's "ER," which led the field for the third consecutive year with 22 nominations, recently announced it will be continuing the character of Dr. Maggie Doyle, who came out as a lesbian at about the same time as "Ellen." "ER" executive producer John Wells said this week, "She is a doctor and a character who we like, who just happens to be gay.... It doesn't make her unusual in any way within the hospital environment."

Among shows with continuing gay and lesbian characters, ABC's "NYPD Blue" hooked 11 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, for which "Chicago Hope" also got a nod. NBC's perennial comedy hit "Frasier," with a continuing non-gay character played by openly gay actor Dan Butler as well as an occasional gay character, had nine nominations including Outstanding Comedy, for which NBC's "Mad About You" was also nominated.

The Fox network's venerable series "The Simpsons" snagged numerous animation nominations, including recognition specifically for the episode called "Homer's Phobia" (guess what it was about!), which guest-voiced openly gay film maker John Waters.

"The Last Don" took an Outstanding miniseries nomination, but probably not as a result of its memorable cameo by k.d. lang.

The awards will be presented September 14 in a live broadcast on CBS with Bryant Gumbel hosting.

Log Cabin Republicans Meet

At the recent convention of the Log Cabin Republicans held in Washington, DC, , Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), the U.S.' highest-ranking openly gay Republican politician-and, since January, the only openly gay Republican in the House of Representatives-told other gay and lesbian Republicans that the cause would "be advanced when gays and lesbians act like straight people." But then, it was only about a year ago that Kolbe reluctantly identified himself publicly as a gay man (in anticipation of his "outing" by the national gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate), protesting at the time that he had no intention of becoming a poster boy for gay and lesbian civil rights. This was his first appearance before a national gay and lesbian group.

Kolbe doubtless struck a chord with many present when he said that, "Being gay was not-and is not today-my defining persona." He said, "We gain acceptance and build our bridges, not by stressing that we are gay people who are Republicans, but that we are Republicans who happen to be gay or lesbian. The cause for gay Republicans and gay Democrats will be advanced when gays and lesbians act like straight people-not when we go back into the closet, for we will never do that-but when we demonstrate our concern and our commitment...on issues that matter to Main Street America." Two such issues he specified were education and crime, areas of great interest to gays and lesbians in which they have often been vigorously opposed by conservative Republicans. In his own career, Kolbe has become recognized in the Congress as an expert on free trade questions.

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), the leading House co-sponsor of ENDA, encouraged the Log Cabin membership to have as much face-to-face contact with Congressmembers as possible, saying, "They need to know you. They need to think and feel what you think and feel, and in the end we'll [i.e., ENDA supporters] win." Rep. Constance Morella (R-MD) was also at the convention cheerleading for ENDA too, saying, "To not pass it is not only bad ethically and morally, it is bad business, too." Two other leading ENDA co-sponsors, Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) also appeared.

With more than 300 registrants, the convention was billed as the largest gathering of gay and lesbian Republicans to date.

Ireland's First Gay Wedding

What's believed to be the first public same-gender wedding ceremony in Ireland was celebrated this past weekend in Dublin. Shane Harte and Noel Byas dressed as sailors-not as a political statement, since the Irish military is open to gays-and were attended by a drag queen and a bridesmaid in gold netting. The five-minute ritual was held in the Kitchen Cafe, owned by the rock band U2.

The only glitch came when another nightclub owner refused to house the affair after learning what it was. The event underscores dramatic changes in Ireland, which has been politically and socially dominated by Catholic dogma, but which has become one of the world's more gay-friendly nations with a series of legislative advances since sodomy repeal four years ago.

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