Country Music Star STEVE GRAND Should Use His Album “ALL AMERICAN BOY” as Inspiration for a TV SERIES!

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Openly gay country music star Steve Grand’s debut has been a constant on my playlist this week and as I was listening to it for probably the tenth time, I realized that his title track “All American Boy” should be the genesis for a tv series in which he would star.  The song paints such a vivid picture of unrequited love that anyone, gay or straight, can relate.

Here’s how I see the origin story of show unfolding:

Steve is an aspiring musician living in the midwest playing whatever gigs he can get. He lives in a converted apartment above his parents garage which leaves him very little privacy. Although Steve has come out to his ultra conservative parents it remains a mostly unspoken topic. His parents love him, but struggle to understand this part of his life. Steve has dated a couple of guys, but he’s never brought anyone home to meet his parents in part because he knew none of those guys were “the one.”

Steve’s best friend Jake is a strapping farm boy.  He’s never been outside of their small town and he’s quite content to spend his days at the lake drinking whiskey by a fire while Steve plays the guitar and previews his music. While Jake sees this as just another good time with his best friend, Steve finds it to be the most intimate times he’s had. Unfortunately for him, Jake’s girlfriend Laurie always finds a way to join in the festivities. Every time Steve has to watch Jake and Laurie hold hands, embrace and kiss, his heart breaks a little bit more. Jake is cool with Steve’s sexuality and has no idea his best friend is in love with him, although Laurie has noticed the way Steve looks at Jake and takes every opportunity she can to make sure Steve witnesses their affection for one another.

When Steve plays a gig at a small bar in Chicago, he meets Marcus a handsome medical intern who is immediately taken with Steve.  Marcus persuades Steve to have coffee with him before he has to catch his train back home. They hit it off and Marcus suggests they see each other again. Steve is hesitant but exchanges numbers with him and heads back home. Marcus is persistent and even though Steve tries to put him off, Marcus eventually wears him down and Steve agrees to see him again the next time he can book a job in Chicago.

When Steve and Marcus do start officially dating, it’s only in Chicago, when Marcus has time off from the hospital and Steve can get into the city. Steve doesn’t tell Jake about Marcus, although Marcus suspects something is going on because Steve and his music have taken on a more upbeat tone. Unfortunately for Marcus, he feels there’s a distance between him and Steve. He suspects Steve has a boyfriend back home, but Steve assures him that’s not the case.

When Steve finally introduces Marcus to Jake, Marcus suspects that there’s more between the two of them than friendship. As he witnesses how close Steve and Jake are, he suspects Jake is using Laurie as a cover.  Marcus becomes incredibly insecure in his relationship with Steve and Steve’s inability to shake his feelings for Jake won’t let him fully commit to Marcus emotionally.

The series would follow Steve as he struggles to find success in his music, build a relationship with Marcus and fight every instinct he has to tell Jake how he feels about him, in fear of not only being rejected but also possibly losing his best friend.

Steve Grand is a handsome, sexy and charming all American boy and has all the makings of a leading man. His music can serve as inspiration for a variety of storylines.  ALL AMERICAN BOY would showcase the struggles not only of Steve’s love life, but also the struggles of an openly gay musician.

Check out Steve Grand’s videos for “All American Boy” and “Time”.

CASTING IDEAS FOR NBC’S REBOOT OF “HART TO HART” with GAY LEADS!

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NBC announced this week that the Peacock network is developing a remake of the ABC series HART TO HART featuring a gay couple.  According to Deadline Hollywood the new Hart To Hart is described as a modern and sexy retelling of the classic series that focuses on “by the book” attorney Jonathan Hart and free-spirited investigator Dan Hartman, who must balance the two sides of their life: action-packed crime-solving in the midst of newly found domesticity. Click here for the full story.

While I’m not generally a fan of reboots, I can get behind this version of HART TO HART.  Here are a few of my casting ideas:

BLAIR UNDERWOOD & JONATHAN GROFF

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Blair Underwood has the demeanor to play “by the book” lawyer Jonathan Hart, but is also believable as having an adventurous side.  Jonathan Groff’s current run in Broadway’s HAMILTON showcases his ability to be fun and lighthearted, making him a perfect fit for investigator Dan Hartman.

MATT BOMER & ADAM RODRIGUEZ

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Reuniting MAGIC MIKE’S Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez would make for one sexy crime solving duo. In this scenario, Rodriguez would play straight-laced lawyer Jonathan Hart, while Bomer would take on the role of free spirited Dan Hartman.

PATRICK DEMPSEY & RUSSELL TOVEY

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Patrick Dempsey, who set hearts aflutter as McDreamy on GREY’S ANATOMY, and British heartthrob Russell Tovey would make a dashing and quite debonair pairing. In this case, the younger Tovey would play by the book attorney Jonathan Hart, with Dempsey taking on the role of carefree investigator Dan Hartman.

For the role of “Max,” the Hart’s dependable gal Friday, here are three ideas:

JASMINE GUY

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Jasmine Guy would be great as the couple’s no-nonsense assistant without whom their lives would be in total disarray. This version of Max would try to keep the Harts out of trouble, but would end up getting involved against her better judgement.

DOT MARIE JONES

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Dot Marie Jones, free off of GLEE, would be a more imposing version of Max.  When the Hart’s need back-up, it would be hard for the bad guys to get past Max.

LAUREN WEEDMAN

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Lauren Weedman gave a stellar performance as the Doris on the now-cancelled HBO series LOOKING.  Doris was the resident smart-ass and as Max, Weedman would give a quirky comical spin to the role.

CRISTELA ALONZO Deserves Another Shot at a TV SERIES!

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This past season, ABC made history when it picked up the sitcom CRISTELA.  Series creator Cristela Alonzo was the first Latina to create, produce and star in a network sitcom. The show starred Alonzo as a struggling law student trying to prove herself at a top law firm all while living with her sister, brother-in-law, their children and her often disapproving mother.  That was a lot for a half hour sitcom, but the show often got me to laugh and care about Cristela and her family. ABC scheduled the show on Fridays which is a tough night for a show filled with mostly unknown actors.  At the end of its first season, CRISTELA was cancelled.

I wouldn’t give up on Cristela Alonzo as a comedic leading lady.  She’s smart, funny and has a lot of rooting value. I think one of the challenges of CRISTELA was getting viewers to connect with the law firm stories, especially since the stories were rarely about the cases. Instead, CRISTELA used the law firm as a way to show the challenges a young, Mexican-American woman faces in the corporate world.  I do think it is an important issue to explore, but I don’t think the law firm was the right setting for a half hour sitcom.  While I understood the aspirational aspect of the story, I could never quite invest in that world.  The material with Cristela’s family was much stronger, I believe in part because Alonzo drew upon her own life in those storylines.

I would love to see Cristela Alonzo return to tv in a workplace sitcom set in a newsroom. Cristela would be an aspiring on-air talent, living in a town light on diversity, who can only get a job producing fluff segments covering local events like the county fair. When the reporter with whom she works is fired for swearing during a live interview with a kid who pukes on her, Cristela quickly jumps in and saves the story. While she’s given the chance to continue covering light stories for the newscast, her executive producer tells her that although she has a masters in journalism from an Ivy League school, she doesn’t have the “right look” for any serious news stories and most certainly will never sit at the anchor desk. Cristela takes this as a challenge and is determined to use the small on-air opportunity she has to get the job she really wants.

Sitcoms with female leads set in newsrooms have a proven track record (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, MURPHY BROWN) and is aspirational enough to entice a broad audience. The seasoned female news anchor could take Cristela under her wing and be a mentor. At home, Cristela would be sharing a two bedroom apartment with a guy friend that she went to college with, setting up a potential love interest for her. I would cast her former costar Carlos Ponce in that role. They were great sparring partners as in-laws and I think they’d have great romantic chemistry.  Roseanne Barr guest-starred on two episodes of CRISTELA and I’d love to see her as Cristela’s landlady and surrogate mother who is willing to lend her a sympathetic ear and good kick in the pants all within the same scene. Alonzo could still keep her edge and address the social topics important to her.

Cristela Alonzo is a great talent with a strong point of view and should be given another chance to headline a series. She deserves it, as do we.

Take a look at Cristela Alonzo doing stand-up on The Late Late Show with Craig Fergerson below.

CASTING CORNER: 3 ACTRESSES WHO SHOULD BE SERIES LEADS!

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These three talented women are familiar faces to tv viewers but none have ever headlined their own tv series, which is a shame. It’s time for Hollywood take notice and cast these women as series leads.

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KHANDI ALEXANDER

Khandi Alexander has most recently been recurring as “Mama” Maya Pope on SCANDAL.  Whether she’ll be returning for the upcoming season is unknown, as the show keeps its storyline spoilers close to the vest. But, Alexander’s talent is too powerful for her to be sitting on the sidelines. Her performance on SCANDAL is proof.

I would love to see Khandi Alexander as a corporate mogul fighting to keep the business she built from nothing into an international powerhouse. Alexander’s character would be single, by choice, but not lonely. She can have any man she wants, whenever she wants him, but on her own terms.  While she’s confident and proud of her success she struggles with her relationship with her parents who think she abandoned her past in her quest for her fortune.  Khandi Alexander would have no problem playing a strong, poweful, smart and sexy woman. She’s done it in supporting roles on a number of shows and now it’s her turn to take center stage.

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JUDY GOLD

Judy Gold is a brilliant comedian. I’ve seen her do stand up a lot and her sets consistently keep the audience laughing.  Gold has had a few guest spots on sitcoms 2 BROKE GIRLS and LOUIE and delivered standout performances.

Judy Gold should headline a show on Netfiix, Amazon or Hulu where she can have the freedom bring her unique sensibility in a fresh and uncompromising way.  Gold should star in a comedy based on her relationship with her family, a constant subject of her standup. The story could focus on Gold’s character, a divorced lesbian, who is in a new relationship but also in constant contact with her ex-wife because they share a son.  If that’s not enough Gold would ask be struggling to keep her family business afloat while caring for her elderly, spitfire mother. She has such a gift for storytelling that she would be sure to appeal to her current fans while drawing a whole new audience who have yet to discover her.

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ROSIE PEREZ

Rosie Perez is an Oscar nominee who this past year co-starred in the critically acclaimed Broadway play FISH IN THE DARK while serving as a co-host on THE VIEW.  Now that Perez is done with her hosting duties, she’s free to headline her own series. Not only is she an amazing actress, Perez is well versed in politics and science. She’s a social activist who has spent years fighting for issues impacting the Latino community, inner city youth and HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

Rosie Perez should star in a gritty cable drama about a woman who wants to save the world through her social activism. When she’s asked to run for a local political office she’s at first reluctant but then considers the impact she could make by working on the inside. In the “fish-out-of-water” story Perez’s character would have to learn how to navigate the politics of politics in order to make  a difference for her community. She would be torn between her new professional world and colleagues as she tries to maintain the relationships with her community in which she still lives. Some of the activists with which she once worked will consider her a sell-out while others will try to leverage their relationship with her to move their agenda forward.  Rosie Perez is a star who deserves a star vehicle that shows off her amazing acting chops.

CASTING CORNER: 3 Actors Who Should Be TV Series Regulars

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With the fall television season upon us, I started thinking about some actors that are floating out there who should be cast as series regulars.  To get things started, below are the three actors I’d like to see in contract roles.

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MALIK YOBA

I’ve been a fan of Malik Yoba since he was on the 90s FOX series NEW YORK UNDERCOVER.  I was happy to see him return to FOX this year as Vernon on EMPIRE.  Unfortunately, Vernon’s fate took a tragic turn by the end of the season, leaving Yoba out of a job.

I’d love to see Malik Yoba join the cast of HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER as a rival attorney to Viola Davis’ Annalise Keating.  When we last left Annalise her husband had been killed and her lover framed for the murder, so not only would Yoba make a worthy adversary in the courtroom for Annalise, he’d also make a hot love interest for her as well.  I can imagine the chemistry between the two actors as being electrifying.

On a side note, I wouldn’t mind seeing Malik Yoba do a guest spot on BLACK-ISH, reuniting with former GIRLFRIENDS leading lady Tracee Ellis Ross. Yoba could play Rainbow’s ex-boyfriend from medical school who Dre has always felt insecure around.  This guest-casting would appeal the GIRLFRIENDS viewers who haven’t discovered BLACK-ish yet.

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TREVOR DONOVAN

Model-turned-actor Trevor Donovan got his big break in 2007 when he was cast as Jeremy Horton on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.  While the role was short-lived, Hollywood casting agents took notice and by 2009 Donovan was cast as Teddy, the closeted jock on 90210.  Trevor Donovan gave a moving performance during Teddy’s coming out story and proved he was more than his good looks. After his stint on 90210, Donovan has mostly done episodic tv work and was seen most recently in the mini-series TEXAS RISING.

I think Trevor Donovan would make a great addition to the cast of SHAMELESS.  He could play the therapist for bi-polar Gallagher brother Ian.  Ian would want more than therapy from Donovan’s character, and while he knows it would be unethical to cross that line with Ian, this is SHAMELESS,  a show with very few boundaries.  And just for fun, Donovan’s therapist character could take a liking to Ian’s older sister Fiona, pitting brother and sister against each other.

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RUSSELL TOVEY

American television viewers got to know British actor Russell Tovey during his two seasons on the now-cancelled HBO series LOOKING.  While there’s no shortage of television and stage work for Tovey in the UK, I’d like to see him back on tv here in the U.S.

Russell Tovey would make a great addition to THE GOOD WIFE as a cocky lawyer who joins forces with Alicia in her new firm.  Alicia would mentor him, much like Will mentored her early on in the series.  It would be fun to see Tovey go up against Cary and Diane in court often fumbling and leaning on Alicia for help.  He could have an inappropriate flirtation with Alicia who doesn’t want to, yet again, mix business with pleasure. Heading into its seventh season THE GOOD WIFE could use an infusion of some sexy new blood and Russell Tovey is more than capable of delivering.

Check back here for more from the CASTING CORNER.