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Gays of Our Lives

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation received a welcome gift this holiday season: the promise of not one but three prime-time shows in 2003 featuring gay lead roles. Fox’s flashback comedy Oliver Beene (premiering this March) features newcomer Taylor Emerson as an 11-year-old schoolyard buddy of Beene’s who displays homosexual tendencies (he comes out in flash-forward scenes), while CBS’ Charlie Lawrence (also due in March) stars Nathan Lane as an openly gay senator. But the season high could be Mr. and Mr. Nash, an ABC dramedy in development for fall from exec producers Steve Martin and Joan Stein with Carsey-Werner-Mandabach that offers a new twist on the ’80s drama Hart to Hart. Alan Cumming plays half of a gay San Francisco couple who moonlight as amateur sleuths (the second lead has not yet been cast). ”They’re interior designers who solve murders while picking out Tiffany lamps!” says GLAAD media director Scott Seomin. ”We haven’t seen two gay leads in a longtime relationship in a sitcom or drama. This is a first.” That isn’t to say GLAAD does not have some reservations about the project: Despite assurances from ABC, Seomin’s worried the Nashes will turn out to be averse to public displays of affection. ”There was a lot of canoodling and innuendo in Hart to Hart, which was part of its charm,” says Seomin. ”We hope to see that in Mr. and Mr. Nash.” Fine, just as long as they don’t actually refer to it as canoodling.

‘Passions’ Play

Now that it’s become the No. 1 daytime destination for fe-male teens, NBC’s supernatural soap Passions has set its sights on another hard-to-reach audience: African-American women. Passions is tied with NBC’s Days of Our Lives as the least-watched sudser in that demographic (CBS’ Young and the Restless, in comparison, is No. 1), a trend NBC is trying to reverse, in part by casting syndicated R&B DJ Tom Joyner in a five-episode arc in March. He’ll play a disgruntled Crane Industries employee who wreaks havoc on the firm. ”African-American households represent a disproportionately large share of the daytime audience,” says NBC’s head of daytime, Sheraton Kalouria. ”But quite frankly, many of them aren’t aware Passions is even on.” Well, they’d come around a lot quicker if the smoldering Shemar Moore (the Y&R alum last seen on The WB’s canceled Birds of Prey) joined the show as a sexy warlock.

AND SO ON… The WB, former home to such reality dogs as Elimidate Deluxe and No Boundaries, will keep the nonscripted series coming in 2003. In addition to Osbournes-Real World hybrid Surreal Life (see story on page 32) and a new offering from The Bachelor’s Mike Fleiss called High School Reunion, The WB is planning a behind-the-scenes surfer series called North Shore for the summer. But WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin promises the move doesn’t mark a major leap for his net. ”We’re not relying on reality shows to be the backbone of our schedule,” he says. ”But it’s important that we try to play in any area that can express interesting stories and compelling characters.”… Following in the footsteps of Ally McBeal, Fox’s Boston Public will start showcasing notable musicians in its fictitious bar. Look for Duncan Sheik Jan. 20 and Counting Crows Feb. 3…. Backstreet Boy Nick Carter will appear in two episodes of ABC’s 8 Simple Rules… this winter. He will play Bridget’s (Kaley Cuoco) music teacher. (Additional reporting by Dan Snierson and William Keck)

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