Emmy Nominations: POSE Star Mj Rodriguez Makes History

Mj Rodriguez of POSE
Mj Rodriguez of POSE
Mj Rodriguez of POSE (via Instagram)

Mj Rodriguez made history today as she was honored with an Emmy Award nomination for her role as ‘Blanca’ on the acclaimed FX series POSE.

Receiving a nod for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Rodriguez becomes the first trans actress to be recognized in a lead acting category.

Series co-creator Steven Canals celebrated the news on Twitter:

The third and final season of POSE garnered a total of 9 nominations this morning including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Billy Porter.

This is Porter’s 3rd nomination having previously made history himself when he took home the Emmy For Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role of ‘Pray Tell’ in 2019.

The series has been a trailblazer from the get-go by featuring the largest trans cast in TV history. And yet, until now, none of the trans female cast members had been recognized by the Emmys.

“Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of POSE,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

“Additionally, the show’s nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as Billy Porter’s third nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, mark a historic show that undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community.


In additional LGBTQ Emmy news, RuPaul’s Drag Race was honored with 9 nominations including Outstanding Competition Program and Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program for Mama Ru. Plus, two nods for RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked including Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.

Netflix’s Queer Eye garnered 6 nominations including Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program as well as Outstanding Structured Reality Program.

And Randy Rainbow received his 3rd nomination for Best Short Form Variety Series. He won in 2019.

GLAAD has assembled a complete list of LGBTQ nominations here.

You can see the full list of 2021 Emmy Award nominations here. The 73rd Annual Emmy Awards will air live on CBS Sunday, September 19.

Out Chef Jonathan Bardzik Stars In New Revry Cooking Series

Chef Jonathan Bardzik stars in 'Jonathan's Kitchen: Seasons To Taste' on Revry
Chef Jonathan Bardzik stars in 'Jonathan's Kitchen: Seasons To Taste' on Revry
Chef Jonathan Bardzik – ‘Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons To Taste’ on Revry (promo photo)

LGBTQ+ streaming network Revry has launched its newest Original series, Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste, an 8-episode cooking show with storyteller, cook and author Jonathan Bardzik featuring “farm-fresh ingredients and the people they bring together.”

Bardzik is the author of three cookbooks including Seasons to Taste: Farm-Fresh Joy for Kitchen and Table, which is the inspiration for this fresh new cooking show.

With even fresher ingredients, Bardzik shares seasonally-inspired recipes and the people they bring together, including Central Farm Markets group and MeatCrafters owner Debbie Moser; and award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality and Mediterranean diet advocate Amy Riolo.

Along the way, Bardzik is joined by his own parents and his husband, Jason, as guests! The show takes viewers through recipes and techniques accessible to beginners and innovative enough for experienced home cooks.

Bardzik opens each episode by sharing, “I believe life can and should be lived with joy, and I find that each day by preparing a simple meal, setting a table and sharing it with the people I love. And I want to share it with you.”

The self-taught chef got his start cooking professionally 10 years ago performing in front of live audiences offering weekend demos at historic Eastern Market in Washington, DC where he shares a home with his husband Jason.

Jonathan combines experience from his family’s garden center business, an MBA degree and 11 years working in marketing for a national trade association to share food and cooking stories that offer his audiences a unique perspective in the kitchen.

He has been featured in media across the country from the Washington Post, USA Today, and Food Network Magazine, and regular appearances on the Washington, DC area’s ABC, CBS and Fox morning news shows.

Jonathan’s Kitchen is now available anytime on demand at Revry.tv.

(via press release)

Interview: Kevin Spirtas Of 6x Emmy Winning Series ‘After Forever’

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

Today I’m speaking to the oh-so-charming Kevin Spirtas – one of the co-creators, writers and stars of the acclaimed LGBTQ TV series, After Forever.

After Forever is the recipient of 6 Daytime Emmy Awards – the most Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.

The first two seasons of the series received rave reviews for telling the rarely seen story of vibrant, active, diverse “grown-up” gay men… a group who tend to disappear from television and film once they are no longer 20- or 30-something, not returning until they are elderly and non-sexual.

Last year, I spoke with Kevin and co-creator/writer Michael Slade about their successful collaboration and the response the series has received.

The producers of the series recently released a documentary-style special episode titled, Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.

This unique installment of the series centers around the character of Riley (Finn Douglas) who, while attending school remotely due to COVID-19, is tasked with creating a project about the most unforgettable person he’s ever met.

The creators of the acclaimed Amazon Video series 'After Forever' have released a special episode, 'Riley's Unforgettable School Project'

The special was shot remotely throughout the Fall of 2020 while the country continued the battle against COVID-19.

The creative team says they knew they couldn’t film Season 3 as intended due to COVID, but they wanted do something creative to keep the After Forever family and fans engaged. The producers plan to resume production on Season 3 once it’s safe to do so in late 2021.

Also, the GLAAD Media Awards recently announced the news that After Forever will be honored with a Special Recognition Award this year.

Join me as I chat with Kevin Spirtas about the new special Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, life imitating art, and more.

You can find After Forever on Amazon Prime video. For more info, check out the official website for the acclaimed series here.

Tonight: Trans Storyline On The CW’s ‘Two Sentence Horror Stories’

James Goldman stars in trans storyline on Two Sentence Horror Stories
James Goldman as ‘Elliott’ in Two Sentence Horror Stories (screen capture via The CW)

On the season premiere of The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories, a transmasculine student endures merciless bullying in his high school until a mysterious janitor offers the teen a way to take care of his bullies once and for all.

Inspired by the viral fan fiction, Two Sentence Horror Stories is an award-winning, original scripted horror anthology series.

Similar to early horror/anthology predecessor The Twilight Zone, each episode features a standalone story.

Each story taps into the expansive world of the horror genre, pressing universal primal fears filtered through the anxieties of a connected and racially diverse generation.

This particular episode was created by a wholly LGBTQ creative team including trans actor James Goldman as ‘Elliott,’ director Chase Joynt, and writer Stephanie Adams-Santos.

James Goldman as 'Elliott' in Two Sentence Horror Stories
James Goldman as trans student ‘Elliott’ in Two Sentence Horror Stories

The episode tonight, a riff on the “troll under the bridge” fairy tale, handles having a trans male lead figure very well.

Without being heavy-handed, several artful choices were made to communicate aspects of transgender people’s lives throughout the episode.

For instance, Elliott doesn’t speak for a lengthy amount of time in the beginning of the episode. During a Q&A with the creative team I attended on Sunday, the director shared that was intentional to underscore how Elliott (and trans people) feel silenced and otherwise diminished.

Point of view camera angles were also chosen specifically to emphasize how Elliott feels he’s always being watched in public – a common thread for trans folks.

And the writer shared that while trans people often look at themselves in the mirror, the only person in this episode seen in a mirror is the evil principal.

“Elliot” airs tonight on The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories tonight at 8:30 pm ET. And encore presentation will air on February 9.

The Best Kind Of ‘Schitt’s-Storm’ At The 72nd Emmy Awards

The stars of Schitt’s Creek at the 2020 Emmy Awards (image via Instagram/SchittsCreek)

It was a Schitt’s-krieg at the 72nd Annual Emmy Awards Sunday night as the LGBTQ-themed Schitt’s Creek swept the major comedy categories winning a record-breaking 9 Emmys, the most ever for a comedy series in a single year.

It was quite the capper for the sixth and final season of the show which has become beloved by straight and queer audiences alike, drawn in by the series’ celebration of inclusivity and diversity. The series spent much of the season on the touching, and often hysterical, same-sex love story between Dan Levy’s ‘David Rose’ and Noah Reid’s ‘Patrick.’

Catherine O’Hara was the first cast member to be honored on Sunday night as she scored for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The win marked O’Hara’s first at the Emmys.

“This is so cool,” said O’Hara from a viewing party in Toronto. “I will forever be grateful to Eugene and Daniel Levy for the opportunity to play a woman of a certain age—my age—who gets to fully be her ridiculous self.”

Eugene Levy followed that winning Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as the show’s patriarch, Johnny Rose.

His son and series co-creator Dan Levy and his co-star Annie Murphy both picked up statues for their performances in the Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress categories.

At that point, an overwhelmed Dan Levy tweeted out, “What the actual f*ck!”

But wait! There’s more!

Dan Levy was also honored for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.

And finally, the show took home the top honor, Outstanding Comedy Series.

In accepting the award, Dan Levy took a moment to encourage viewers to get out and vote.

“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance and that is something that we need more of now than ever before,” said Dan Levy as he accepted the award. “I just wanted to say that for any of you who have not registered to vote, please do so, and then go out and vote because that is the only way we are going to have some love and acceptance out there. Please do that. I’m so sorry for making this political, but I had to!”

His dad chimed in thanking his son for taking “our ‘fish out of water’ story about the Rose family” and transforming it into “a celebration of inclusivity, a castigation of homophobia, and a declaration of the power of love.”

Earlier in the week, Schitt’s Creek also won Emmys for casting and costumes at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

It was quite the reversal of fortune for the show which was shut out of contention during its first four seasons. Last year, the Pop TV series garnered four nominations, including one for Outstanding Comedy, but went home empty-handed.

In other queer Emmy news, RuPaul’s Drag Race won 6 awards including the show’s third-in-a-row Outstanding Competition Program Emmy Award and Mama Ru’s 5th straight win for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program.

Former Disney Channel star Zendaya (24) also made history as the youngest actress to win in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her compelling work as complicated queer teen ‘Rue’ on HBO’s Euphoria.

For a list of all of Sunday night’s winners, head over to Emmys.com.

(source: The New York Times, Emmys.com)

Will COVID-19 Halt The Love Scenes & Ball Sequences on POSE?

L-R Dyllon Burnside, Billy Porter (screen capture)

As Pride Month 2020 has begun amid ongoing concerns for dealing with the COVID-19 health threat, this certainly would be a good time to serve up a new season of the critically-acclaimed FX series Pose.

But alas, while the first two seasons of the diverse, queer-themed series premiered in time for Pride, this year we are without our fix of ballroom fierceness as production was shut down early in the coronavirus pandemic.

Series star Indya Moore, who plays aspiring model ‘Angel Evangelista,’ recently told Variety, “When production paused, I wasn’t shocked — I knew it would happen — but it was a bittersweet moment for me.”

“On the one hand, if anyone had gotten sick, it surely would have spread fast,” they added. “On the other hand, most folks working on a production are living paycheck to paycheck. So I was worried about how they are going to survive.”

Co-creator Steven Canals shared with the venerable Hollywood outlet that the show will definitely return – it was renewed for Season 3 after just one episode of the second season had aired – but how the storytelling is handled may shift.

“Things like kissing — we will likely forgo those moments,” said Canals.

“The place on our show where the biggest impact will be felt will be the ball scenes,” he added referring to the massive number of background actors featured in the dance sequences.

“Those scenes have 125 to 150 background actors,” explained Canals. “That’s tricky because that’s such an important and critical part of our show and the narrative. We’re just, only now, having conversations of ‘Is there a world where we forgo these things?’”

Canals shares that the entire season hadn’t been fully scripted yet when the production shut down.

“I haven’t had anybody reach out asking for those scripts,” said Canals. “It’s all been about family and really caring for each other’s well-being.”

But Canals does guarantee there will be another season of Pose, and one that will put the powerful LGBTQ politics of the series “upfront and center,” where they always have been.

“So in terms of the narrative of Season 3 and the way we’re moving forward, I think it will inherently address what’s happening currently with COVID-19,” adds the openly queer screenwriter. “All of that was already baked into the DNA of the show.”

It’s hard to imagine the series without the now-iconic ballroom scenes depicting so much LGBTQ tribal pride. Or groundbreaking love scenes between Emmy Award-winner Billy Porter’s ‘Pray Tell’ and Dyllon Burnside’s ‘Ricky Evangelista.’

But trust and believe, the creative powers that brought us the most diverse LGBTQ cast of actors and writers will find a way.

Season 1 of Pose is currently available on Netflix with Season 2 joining the lineup on the streaming platform on June 11.

Trailer For Upcoming Hulu Series ‘Love, Victor’

Get ready for all the feels with the official trailer for Hulu’s upcoming dramedy series Love, Victor, a spin-off of the groundbreaking feature film LOVE, SIMON.

Synopsis: Set in the world of the 2018 groundbreaking film Love, Simon which was inspired by Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the series follows Victor, a new student at Creekwood High School on his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city and exploring his sexual orientation. When it all seems too much, he reaches out to Simon to help him navigate the ups and downs of high school.

The series stars Michael Cimino (Anabelle Comes Home), Ana Ortiz (Whiskey Cavalier, Ugly Betty), James Martinez (One Day at a Time), and Isabella Ferreira (Orange is the New Black).

I loved the 2018 film, which was the first mainstream studio movie to feature a teen gay as the lead character. Critics praised the film leading to a 91% Fresh rating at movie fan site Rotten Tomatoes.

In addition to being a critical success, the film (which cost $17 million to make) grossed over $66 million worldwide.

The full 10-episode season will premiere on June 19 on Hulu.

Daytime Emmy Noms Show Big Love For LGBTQ Series ‘After Forever’ & ‘Eastsiders’

Mitchell Anderson & Kevin Spirtas in ‘After Forever;’ the cast of ‘Eastsiders’ (images via Instagram)

The nominees for the 47th Annual Daytime Emmy® Awards were announced on Thursday with some big love to LGBTQ-themed work and artists.

The Netflix dark comedy Eastsiders scored 8 nominations including Outstanding Digital Drama Series, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Willam Belli and Leith M. Burke each got a nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor Digital Series; Lin Shaye for Outstanding Guest Performer Digital Series; Outstanding Writing Team Digital Series; Outstanding Casting; Outstanding Costume Design; and Outstanding Makeup.

While RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Willam isn’t the first drag queen to receive an Emmy nod, I believe this is the first time a drag performer has received a nomination in an acting category.

The acclaimed Amazon Video digital series After Forever was honored with 6 nominations including Outstanding Digital Drama Series; Cady Huffman for Outstanding Lead Actress Digital Series; Lenny Wolpe for Outstanding Supporting Actor Digital Series; Mary Beth Peil for Outstanding Guest Performer Digital Series; Outstanding Writing Team Digital Series and Outstanding Art/Set Direction/Scenic Design.

This was the second season of the acclaimed Amazon series. Two years ago, After Forever received 8 nominations and won 5 including Best Digital Drama Series. Additionally, series creator Kevin Spirtas scored for Best Actor Digital Series and Best Writing Team.

 

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Mary Beth Peil on joining the cast of AFTER FOREVER in Season 2: “I think the series is quite impressive, not just the story that they are telling but every one of us can relate to losing people,” she added. “It establishes a tone that is very unique and hard to describe. It allows everything to unfold naturally.” Read all about it in @digitaljournal & catch up on the series available on Amazon. #lgbtcommunity #lgbtpride #awardwinning #lgbt #laindiefilmfest #iawtvawards #outonfilmatlanta #outonfilm #accoladecompetition #loveandloss #gay #gaypride #watchnow #bingewatching #bingewatch #gsff2019 #daytimeemmys #indieseriesawards #emmys #emmywinner #afterforevertheseries #amazonprime #bingenetworks #kevinspirtas #mitchellanderson #filmnyc #nyc #marybethpeil

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Afternoon talkfest The Ellen DeGeneres Show added to its long list of Emmy honors with 5 nominations including Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show, Outstanding Writing for a Special Class Series, Outstanding Directing for Talk/Entertainment/Morning Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing, Outstanding Art/Set/Scenic Design.

And the innovative lip-sync documentary Stonewall Outloud, which utilized rare recordings of people who experienced the Stonewall uprising in 1969, received a nod for Outstanding Direction – Special Class.

The honors will be presented in a two-hour special on Friday, June 26 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Since 1974, the Daytime Emmy® Awards have recognized outstanding achievement in daytime television programming. The awards are presented to individuals and programs broadcast between 2:00 am and 6:00 pm, as well as certain categories of digital and syndicated programming of similar content.

This year’s nominations were culled from more than 2,700 submissions and judged by a pool of 1,000 peer professionals from across the television industry.

Awards will be presented in leading categories during the telecast, with recipients and other special guests appearing from home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can find the full list of nominees at TheEmmys.tv.

In case you missed it, you can check out my exclusive interview with the Emmy Award-winning co-creators of After Forever, Michael Slade & Kevin Spirtas, below.

Wildly Diverse Characters Find Connection In New Series ‘Stranger Hearts’

Matt Moran as Billy in ‘Stranger Hearts’ (all images via Dekkoo)

Queer streaming platform Dekkoo will premiere its new drama series, Stranger Hearts, on Thursday, March 12.

Created by filmmaker Kevin James Thornton (“How To Get From Here To There”), the five-episode series follows three queer characters from vastly divergent backgrounds: Luka (played by Amo (MTV’s “The Real World” 2016), Billy (played by Matt Moran), and Andre (newcomer Qua Robertson Harper).

Andre, a shy, closeted African-American man, lives with his mother (played by Keisha Cunningham). After accidentally finding her son’s stash of gay porn, she makes sensitive attempts to connect with her son as he struggles with his burgeoning sexuality. Cunningham’s work throughout the series is especially nuanced and authentic.

Qua Robertson Harper as Andre in ‘Stranger Hearts’

Billy, a smooth-talking media mogul by day/leather bar aficionado by night, finds his life turned upside down when he’s faced with an unexpected health crisis.

And Luka is a gender-nonconforming photographer who finds himself down on his luck financially who decides to try online escorting in an attempt to make ends meet.

Amo as Luka in ‘Stranger Hearts’

Described by the network as “thoughtful, sexy and deeply heartfelt,” the new drama doesn’t rush to hit you over the head with scandalous, over-the-top scenes. Instead, the pace – while not slow – is pensive and precise. Thornton often allows his actors’ eyes or facial expressions to convey a moment’s plot point rather than verbose language.

Eventually, the three characters find themselves connected via work, family, or fate.

Make sure you reach the final episode as Thornton offers surprises, big and small, along the way.

 

As more and more queer content becomes available online, it’s refreshing that Stranger Hearts doesn’t opt for stereotypic, cookie-cutter characters.

All five episodes of the first season of Stranger Hearts will be available on Dekkoo beginning March 12th.  Dekkoo is available internationally via iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, AppleTV, Xfinity X1 and Roku. 

In the U.S. and U.K., Dekkoo is also available via Prime Channels.

Podcast: Chatting With Emmy Award Winning Creators Of ‘After Forever’

The cast of ‘After Forever’ (via Instagram)

Join me as I chat with the Emmy Award-winning creators of the Amazon Prime Video digital series, After Forever.

After Forever stars Kevin Spirtas (Dr. Craig Wesley on Days of Our Lives) and Mitchell Anderson (Doogie Howser, Party of Five) as a mid-life gay couple living in New York City who appear to have it all — until Jason’s untimely death forces Brian to think about his own future and ultimately his own mortality, without the love of his life.

As Brian puts his life back together, Jason periodically appears to help him focus on his new life and moving on, most notably with his new boyfriend.

Spritas co-created and co-wrote the series with acclaimed playwright Michael Slade.

After Forever also stars familiar faces from TV, film and Broadway stages like Colleen Zenk (As the World Turns), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Anita Gillette (Chapter Two), Mary Beth Peil (Dawson’s Creek), and Tony Award winner Cady Huffman (The Producers).

The lauded series features a diverse group of characters who find their way through life’s constant changes, including relationships, love, and loss, in an often overlooked group – the mature gay man.

L-R Mitchell Anderson and Kevin Spirtas in ‘After Forever’

 

Season One of After Forever was nominated for 8 Emmy Awards and won five including Outstanding Digital Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Digital Drama Series, and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Season Two has already been nominated for 10 Indie Series Awards including Best Drama Series, Best Ensemble Drama Series and a slew of acting, writing and directing nods as well.

Hit play as I chat (and laugh) with two very talented men.

For more info about the show, click over to afterforevertheseries.com.