Actor/comedian Billy Crystal is apparently not a big fan of what he considers graphic or explicit gay-oriented content on TV, and he’s taking heat for it on social media.
Crystal commented on this issue yesterday during a panel discussion at the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif., as part of a promotion for a new comedy show that will debut in the spring.
Ironically perhaps, Crystal portrayed the first openly gay character on TV for his role as Jodie Dallas on the sitcom Soap from 1977 to 1981.
Crystal is best known for hosting the Academy Awards nine times and starring in hit films such as When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers, along with many appearances on Saturday Night Live (“you look marvelous”).
Crystal, 66, offered this opinion about contemporary gay storylines in shows that he declined to identify at the Pasadena conference, according to The Wrap.
“Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me’… Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste, and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are… I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
He also discussed what it was like back in the day playing Jodie Dallas on Soap.
“It was very difficult at the time. Jodie was really the first recurring [gay] character on network television and it was a different time, it was 1977. So, yeah, it was awkward. It was tough. I did it in front of a live audience, and there were times when I would say to Bob [Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously. I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?'”
Billy Crystal is returning to the TV sitcom arena for the first time since Soap washed out. Based on a Swedish TV series, his new show, The Comedians, is scheduled for an April 9, 2015, premiere on the FX Network.
“In The Comedians, Crystal plays a superstar veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with a younger, edgier comedian who’s not necessarily wild about being partnered with the old guy, for a late-night comedy sketch show. Josh Gad plays the younger guy,” Deadline Hollywood explained.
FX has green-lit The Comedians for an initial 13-episode run.
The Twitterverse (perhaps including a few who have engaged in ageism) did not take kindly to Crystal’s remarks about gay-themed programming, including some who accused the liberal Democrat of homophobia or the equivalent.
How long do you think it will take before Billy Crystal issues a “clarification” for his comments about gay scenes on TV?