TV producers use gay storylines as sweeps stunts

By Mari Cartel
Updated May 10, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Kerr Smith: Paul Skipper/Globe Photos

Showtime’s steamy ”Queer as Folk” has pushed the limits of same sex romance, but on network TV the fundamental things apply: A gay kiss isn’t just a kiss, but a sweeps stunt. Jennifer Aniston bussed Winona Ryder on ”Friends” April 26; ”Felicity”’s Amanda Foreman canoodled with an old girlfriend April 25. And, most provocatively, Kerr Smith swapped spit with David Monahan on ”Dawson’s Creek” May 2.

”Got the annual smooch with a guy,” laughs the straight Smith, whose gay character laid one on another boy last May. ”It’s not the most fun thing in the world, but I agreed to play this role, and [producer] Greg Berlanti does want to take it that far.” While he’s proud of helping to break TV taboos, Smith draws the line at a once a year snog: ”That’s as far as I’m going to take it. I don’t think teenagers need to see two guys kissing on a weekly basis.”

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