Press Interviews (29)

Gay gossip! Gay plotlines! Everything gay on TV!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Gay gossip! Gay plotlines! Everything gay on TV!
Article Date: 10/02/2007

By Ros von Metzke

Admit it—we’ve all watched them. Whether you remember fondly your summer addicted to Young & the Restless as grandma watched on from the kitchen or rediscovering All My Children in college because suddenly you were around your dorm room at noon, the lies, sex, scandal and sexy stars like Alexa Havins and Cameron Mathison make for some truly fascinating television.

And in several cases, you have one man to thank for the beach ready bods you get to obsess over from week to week—Michael Bruno.

The L.A. based daytime talent manager (and the Simon Cowell of Soap Net’s I Wanna Be a Soapstar) eats, sleeps and breathes daytime drama. So whether it’s a tall, dark, handsome rapist in his late 20’s on Days of Our Lives or a “looks great in a bikini—and can pull off a Southern accent” ingénue for As the World Turns, chances are the casting notice landed on Bruno’s desk.

Since we all know the gays love daytime—and sometimes daytime loves the gays—we sat down with the openly gay King of all things soap to talk about this season’s battle for a starring role on Days, gay storylines on soaps and why the rumors that soap stars can’t act are just plain wrong. I have to say—the stereotype on soaps is that people can’t act. So when you’re casting people for I Wanna Be a Soapstar, what are you looking for?

Michael Bruno (right): You really need a look. If people say, ‘Oh, they don’t need to be good looking', they’re lying. You really need the best looking person who is actually a good actor—there’s 60 pages of dialogue a day, so you really need to know what you’re doing. Sometimes they’ll look the other way if someone is so beautiful, and they hope they’re going to get better, and usually they do get better. But it’s a look, and it’s typically youth oriented—we really want to kind of look for 18-30. And you want those Shemar Moore’s, Steve Burton, Austin Peck, Cameron Mathison—and it’s usually the guys you want.

GW: It’s funny, you just said that sometimes they’ll look the other way, and sometimes on show I watch, I’ve seen people who start out and they’re terrible and then, suddenly, they’re brilliant. The one who comes to mind right off the top of my head is the girl who plays Kendall on All My Children (Erica Kane’s daughter, played by Alicia Minshew). When she started, she was terrible, and suddenly she’s the best thing on the show. Do you find that a lot—that soaps force these actors to grow?

MB: Well you have to grow overnight or you’re out. They’ll look the other way, but basically they’re going to look the other way for 13 weeks and then they’re gonna go, ‘Guys, they’re holding up production'. The people who can act don’t want to work with them. You really need your bang for your buck. These shows really aren’t doing so great right now. It’s usually one take unless the set falls down. But they’re really trying to get in and get out, so you can really only look the other way for so long. But they really do get better—it’s the best graduate school you can go to for acting, because you’re literally thrown into the fire.

GW: Who do you think are some of soaps best success stories?

MB: You mean people who have left and gone on to bigger things or…

GW: Either that or people who have really grown with their show and found their niche.

MB: Well, there are icon people who have really just done great. Kristin Alfonso (left) is one who’s on Days and she’s beloved, she still looks great. And then there are people… you know, like what you’re talking about with Alicia Minshew, I think it’s a great story, she came in as an unknown and she’s great.

And then you have others that you’re kind of hoping for, like Alexa Havins. I just think she’s such a find as Babe (on All My Children). You know, it’s sad that they’re losing her, but this is a girl who needs to get out there and try nighttime and film because I think she has something… like so many other people have. You know, they say the same names over and over again. Meg Ryan. Demi Moore.

But I look at Kyra Sedgwick now and I remember when she was on Another World. Look at Ryan Phillippe, look at Josh Duhamel… it may be Las Vegas, but it’s a night time show.

GW: I’m glad you mentioned Ryan, because he played gay on One Life to Live, and I’m curious to hear your take on some of the gay storylines the soaps have tackled—As The World Turns is doing it now, All My Children has done it. How successful do you think they’ve been at telling these stories to an audience?

MB: It is like everything in the world—it takes time for everybody, and there’s a way to tell it. One of the reasons this current story at As the World Turns is probably the best gay storyline ever—and there haven’t been so many of them… there’ve probably been 12 major ones that you can think of. I just think this works because it is about love and it is about great story. It happens to be with two guys and people, if they’re not gay, can relate from a human factor because it’s being written and acted and directed so well. This one is breaking ground because it is your classic Luke and Laura of push me, pull me, but with two guys. I think it’s a real eye opener to other people, because a big majority of the people behind the scenes on daytime television are gay.

GW: Behind the scenes—yes. Now, how long do you think it will be before we see an openly gay soap star?

MB: Look, there are many gay soap actors—it’s usually not the ones we were hoping would be gay, but there are gay soap opera stars, and I think that it’s coming. I think it will probably be, only because society seems to be a little bit better, I would think a woman coming out would be easier because it’s, in one way, more titillating and less offensive in a way.

GW: And I’d imagine it’ll be a woman who is 50-plus, not a front-burner ingénue.

And, you know, surprisingly, there’s a few ingenue’s who are gay—or certainly bisexual. They’re a little bit more open about it. It bothers me, being a gay man, having to tell a gay performer to be careful and to be private. I’ve never tried to tell someone, ‘Don’t be gay’, but I do sit them down and say, ‘You do need to be private. I don’t want you to say, you have a boyfriend or girlfriend’. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to do the thing of bringing a guy or a girl to an event. But people don’t need to be knowing that you’re Uncle Charlie’s either—you’ve got to really be careful, especially in this day of the Internet. Just about three years ago, I think one of the young men on All My Children was seen out somewhere and was soon gone. They just panic because they think it’s an all woman audience, when in reality it’s a big gay audience—but they still cater to women, and they want to think this is the guy they want their daughter with.

GW: Now on to Soapstar—last week’s episode, they’re doing this huge death scene… the stereotype on soaps is that these people can’t act, but as we could see from this episode, the female judge went absolutely to pieces over that one girl’s performance. In the industry, how other do actors typically have to prepare for a scene like that.

MB: Well on that episode, they had no time—there’s literally 6 hours. They get the script in the morning and then they have to go in front of us… and I’m the mean one, and I’m sure they’re already nervous enough. You know, we shoot the series, even though it’s ten episodes… we shoot basically in about 11 days. You’re kind of sleeping at night—you know, the judges, we leave, but it’s on your mind at night who you let go, you kind of feel guilty, ‘Did we do the right thing’? You’re revved up on coffee, and you know, they’re always pushing me to be mean, because they need sound bytes, and that day, on that
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