1 In and Out, a new comedy starring Kevin Kline, was the top-grossing film here last week, making it the second gay-themed movie in as many years to crack the mainstream (The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, was a huge hit last year). Hollywood instinctively turns statistics into guidelines, and the logical conclusion to draw here is that the American heartland, while not necessarily queer-friendly, is receptive enough to coy stereotypes. Written by the reliably irreverent Paul Rudnick, In and Out puts a what-if twist on Tom Hanks's Philadelphia Oscar speech, in which he thanked a gay high-school teacher. In Rudnick's version, Matt Dillon's character wins an Oscar for playing a moronic gay soldier (a composite of Hanks's Philadelphia and Forrest Gump roles), and in thanking his gay high-school teacher (played by Kline), inadvertently outs the man - who still thinks he's straight and is about to get married. In keeping with the title, the publicity campaign is cautiously vague: the poster shows Kline grimacing, wedding bouquet in hand, and the TV ads are oblique to the point of being confusing. The movie itself is hardly risque, seeing as Rudnick's plan is obviously just to get in as many digs as possible; many of them are hilarious - his Oscar ceremony, for instance, shows Steven Seagal being nominated, for a film called Snowball in Hell.
1 On the subject of outing, this month's US Esquire claims that "Kevin Spacey Has a Secret". Offering little in the way of evidence, the cover- story mulls over the rumours, apparently circulating among city "sophisticates", that Spacey is gay. The actor, who plays a gay art dealer in the forthcoming movie of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (and who, Esquire claims, has declined to "publicly define" his private life), has issued an angry statement, accusing the magazine of McCarthyism. The incident is not, as far as we know, being turned into a movie.
1 ABC's "TV is Good" campaign seems to be backfiring. Ratings are still down, and judging by the number of defaced posters in New York, the network's post-ironic slogans (eg "8 hours a day, that's all we ask") have, if anything, an antagonising effect. "Husband not funny?" smirks one poster. A scribbled rejoinder goes: "Trust us, ABC's sitcoms are even less funny". To add to the station's woes, snappier parody ads have also been surfacing around town. Among the spoof slogans spied on billboards: "Fuck books", "Lobotomy itching?", "You can only wank three or four times a day".