As BroadwayWorld previously reported, GLEE creator Ryan Murphy recently called for a boycott of Newsweek Magazine, after the publication ran a piece by Ramin Setoodeh, in which the contributing writing questioned the believability of gay actors playing straight men on stage and screen. Setoodeh posed the question: "Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn't it ever work in reverse?"
Setoodeh went on to state that Sean Hayes, currently starring in the Broadway revival of PROMISES, PROMISES, cannot come across as straight in the role. He writes "Hayes is among Hollywood's best verbal slapstickers, but his sexual orientation is part of who he is, and also part of his charm. (The fact that he only came out of the closet just before Promises was another one of those Ricky Martin-duh moments.) But frankly, it's weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is. Even the play's most hilarious scene, when Chuck tries to pick up a drunk woman at a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the '60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?"
The article has drawin harsh, public criticism from such famous names as Kristin Chenoweth, Cheyenne Jackson, Michael Urie, Dustin Lance Black, in addition to GLAAD, and has sparked an national debate about homophobia in entertainment and its double standards. Setoodeh responded that he has been grossly misunderstood.
In an open letter, GLEE creator Ryan Murphy invited Setoodeh to visit the set of GLEE to see how the cast, writing and rehearsal process works, to give him a real inside look at how performances - gay-playing-straight, staright-playing-gay and everything in between - are built. Wrote Murphy:
"Mr. Setoodeh has recently Twittered that he is a fan of Glee, the show I co-created with Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk...the show on which Mr. Groff plays the straight love interest to Lea Michele, a casting choice embraced by fans and critics alike which Mr. Setoodeh has taken issue with...I extend an open invitation to Mr. Setoodeh to come to the writers room of our show, and perhaps pay a set visit. Hopefully then he can see how we take care to do a show about inclusiveness...a show that encourages all viewers no matter what their sexual orientation to go after their hopes and dreams and not be pigeonholed by dated and harmful rhetoric...rhetoric he sadly spews and believes in. Hopefully, some of the love we attempt to spread will rub off on Mr. Setoodeh - a gay man deeply in need of some education - and he not only apologizes to those he has deeply offended but pauses before he picks up his poison pen again to work through the issues of his own self loathing. Give me a call, Ramin...I'd love to hear from you. I'll even give you a free copy of our Madonna CD, on which we cover "Open Your Heart," a song you should play in your house and car on repeat."
The New York Times reports today that Murphy and Setoodeh may be calling a truce, as the Newsweek author has agreed to take Murphy up on his offer, and will be spending the day on the GLEE set sometime in the very near future.
Murphy revealed today:
"Ramin Setoodeh, the author of the article, reached out to me today and accepted my offer to sit with myself and the writers of Glee - Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan - to discuss not only why we found the piece so offensive, but also to observe our creative process and see how we construct a TV show dedicated exclusively to the idea of inclusiveness and acceptance for all - ideas solely absent in his ‘Straight Jacket' article... On Glee, straight actors play gay roles, gay actors play straight roles and no one is discriminated against. I hope observing this process firsthand - and talking with our cast - will be illuminating to Mr. Setoodeh, and inform his future journalistic endeavors."