Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi play gay couple in Vicious ITV comedy.
Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi are to star in a comedy as a gay couple who have lived together in the same Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years, ITV1 has confirmed.
The sitcom, Vicious, will feature McKellen as Freddie, once a budding actor, while Jacobi will play Stuart, who was a barman when the pair first met. Now their lives consist of reading books, walking their dog and bickering.
Frances De La Tour, best known for her role as the object of Leonard Rossiter's unrequited affections in the 1970s sitcom Rising Damp, plays their best friend, Violet. The trio's world is upended by the arrival of a young man as their new upstairs neighbour.
The sitcom will be written and co-produced by Gary Janetti, whose US TV comedy credits include Will & Grace and Family Guy. Vicious has been co-created by award-winning playwright Mark Ravenhill.
ITV's soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale have both featured gay characters, but commissioning a show with gay leads is relatively rare.
In 2001 ITV1 broadcast Bob & Rose, a drama written by Russell T Davies and starring Alan Davies as a gay man who starts a relationship with Lesley Sharp.
"ITV is thrilled this exciting and bold sitcom, with stellar performers and writing talent is to join the increasing slate of new look comedy shows on the channel," said Myfanwy Moore, ITV comedy commissioning editor.
Vicious has been commissioned by Moore and Elaine Bedell, ITV director of comedy and entertainment.
"Putting [the prosthetic penis on] took two hours," she said. "I shaved myself and they had to glue it on, paint it and pull away the skin to make it seamless. It's a tedious process, and it's hard having someone so close to your private parts for an extended period of time who you're not having sex with."
Uncomfortable as it was, Sevigny said it helped her understand her character more. "Having it on and looking at yourself is oddly disturbing. I felt like a freak," she continued. "A lot of transgender people feel like this shouldn't be part of their body, and so I guess it was a good thing. I reacted the way my character would."
While stepping into the role of someone who is transgender was a huge part of her character, Sevigny stressed other elements of it as well.
"It's more about her and this family that she kind of falls into, these children she kind of inherits and how she learns to cope with being in a parental role," she told HuffPost via phone in April.
You play a transgender hit person in Hit & Miss. On paper that sounds pretty weird. Did it feel like a stretch to you?
I was afraid I wouldn't be convincing and the [transgender] community might be upset about it because it's a sensitive thing. That was the scariest part for me. Not the outcome or the controversy or what people are going to write about it, because I knew the tone they were going to set. It's so based in reality and the truth of the emotions and relationships that it's not quite as nuts as the synopsis sounds.
How important is it that we see your character, Mia, naked so early in the show?
Photo: Open to different kinds of roles ... Chloe Sevigny
I think it's good to just get it out of the way. And the way they shot it, it's not gratuitous - it's just kind of there, it's very natural. It's just me getting dressed or taking a shower.
Did you find it strange wearing a prosthetic penis?
Yes, it was very uncomfortable and I think I had a similar relationship to it as Mia would have with hers. She felt like a freak.
What attracted you to the role?
First and foremost was the script. I wanted to work in England, I wanted to work with this director. I didn't have anything else and I wanted to do something very different from the character I played on Big Love for so many years just to kind of shake that part. I loved doing long-form television and the fact it was a six-hour mini-series, I knew how much you get to explore with the character over time.
Why do you think they went for an American star in what is really quite a small British drama.
I don't think of myself as a star, first of all. I don't. But I think it makes sense that I'd do it. As far as my film career goes, this seems like a natural progression or a natural fit. I think they also wanted something of a name, which is fine by me. If they pay me, I'll take it.
Was it hard to settle in on set?
The hardest part about being on set was being the only American. I feel like there's a real cultural divide and I just felt really alone and isolated. Playing that character had a lot to do with it, but I just felt kind of misunderstood. I think they thought of me - a lot of the crew - as Hollywood or whatever because I drank green tea, you know. So that was a bit isolating.
Ellen DeGeneres, an American entertainer and prominent gay rights advocate, received the highest U.S. award for achievement in comedy on Monday.
Receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center, the national showcase for arts, DeGeneres was praised as a pioneering female comic whose edgy variety show has helped define the format for daytime television in recent years.
But several guests also highlighted the comedian's groundbreaking decision 15 years ago to go public with her sexual identity in a career-rattling move the comedian said was a necessary step for personal dignity.
"I did it for me and it happened to help a lot of other people and cause a big ruckus," DeGeneres, 54, told reporters before the tribute, summarizing her decision in 1997 to come out publicly as gay in tandem with her on-screen character in a move that sparked controversy and prompted some advertisers to flee.
The Twain prize, named after the 19th century satirist, is the nation's highest honor for achievements in comedy.
A native of New Orleans, DeGeneres spent her twenties as an itinerant comedian on the Los Angeles nightclub circuit until prominent spots on late night television led to her own prime time sitcom.
The original show, Ellen, featured DeGeneres in the lead role as a bookshop owner in an idiosyncratic neighborhood. While the show got a boost after the star came out of the closet, it was over a few years later.
She later returned to the standup stage, and hosted the 2001 Emmy awards, which was postponed twice after the Sept. 11 attacks - a somewhat subdued celebration that allowed her to try to lighten the national mood.
Several guests said that DeGeneres brought a compassion to her comedy that is rare in the field.
"The rest of us comics come from really messed-up, dark childhoods. She might have come from that, I don't know. But it's not what she puts forth," said John Leguizamo, who joined the tributes. "She just puts out this beautiful goodwill."
In the last 10 seasons on television, DeGeneres has left her mark with a daytime variety show which she often uses as a way to promote a commitment to gay equality.
"For a lot of people, Ellen is their only homosexual friend," said late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
DeGeneres is the forth woman to receive the award since its inception in 1998.
Comedian and actor Will Ferrell won last year. Past award winners have included Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby.
Monday night's ceremony will be broadcast on PBS on Oct. 30.
Source: Reporting By Patrick Rucker; Editing by Mohammad Zargham Ruters
Semi-improvised sitcom set in a fictitious university. Created by the team behind Green Wing and Smack The Pony
Campus is set in a fictitious 'new' university and explores the lives and souls of a handful of people that work there - some as academics, some simply involved in the general running of the place.
With a semi-improvised feel, Campus features an ensemble cast, and is made by the team behind Green Wing and Smack The Pony, including producer Victoria Pile.
At the helm of Kirke University is stubby, mercurial Vice Chancellor Jonty de Wolfe, who wants nothing more than to drench the uni in the juices of his own greatness.
As a scary cloud of financial doom hovers over the gently crumbling 60s concrete, Jonty attempts to pimp up Kirke in any way he can, whether it's faked alumni, kidnapped prodigies or a range of "Eau de Kirke" perfumery - but his lofty plans soar as gracefully as a porky tortoise and while the strangely unsettling puppet master plunges deeper into the pickle jar, the rest of Kirke's assorted staff get sidetracked by the more urgent dilemma of who to sleep with next.
The philandering English Professor Matt Beer is forced to up his game in all departments, as he makes no impression on shy Maths lecturer Imogen Moffat, who herself is consumed with creative agony over expectations of a follow-up to her hit Mathsbuster. He is left to contemplate his rapidly greying pubes while his younger, bouncier, athletic student sidekick Flatpack - who combines a six-pack body with the intellect of a piece of Ikea furniture - makes more headway with the lovely maths boffin. The gawky mechanical engineer Lydia 'big s**t' Tennant, the three Graces of Admin (Big Grace, Pretty Grace and 'Was Once A Man' Grace), Jason the reticent accountant and Nicole the feisty accommodations officer add more sexual confusion to the mix.
Congratutaions to all the FUSE readers that won a DVD copy of Campus.
If you would like to check Campus on DVD, it's avaiable at JBHI FI and good movie outlets.
The inaugural GaymerCon in San Francisco will be a fun, safe space for LGBTI gamers.
You can hear a lot of abusive language playing video games online, but one of the most common forms of insult is attacking another player's sexuality. With terms like "gay" and "faggot" being thrown around so enthusiastically, it's no surprise that people who actually identify with such terms feel alienated and unwelcome.
A group of San Francisco-based gamers decided to do something about it and enact some positive change. The team, made up both of members of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) community and their straight allies, started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to stage an event for LGBTI gamers and their friends and supporters.
GaymerCon was born, an event where gamers of all sexual orientations and gender identities could celebrate video game culture in a safe space, free from bigotry.
The Kickstarter campaign is, at time of writing, a little over two days away from completion, but it has already been an overwhelming success. Organisers set a funding goal of $25,000 to stage the convention, and the current total stands at nearly triple that figure. It even looks like $100,000 might be achievable.
Whether that milestone is reached or not, GaymerCon is officially funded, and the inaugural event will be held in San Francisco on the weekend of 3-4 August 2013.