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Kristin Chenoweth vs. Newsweek -- a Broadway battle goes viral

May 12, 2010 |  3:07 pm

Chenoweth-hayes What started as a review (of sorts) of a Broadway show has mushroomed into one of those only-on-the-Internet free-for-alls.

In late April, Ramin Setoodeh posted an essay on Newsweek.com in which he dinged Sean Hayes' performance in the current revival of "Promises, Promises," saying that seeing Hayes ("best known as the queeny Jack on 'Will & Grace' ") as a single guy in love with a single woman is weird because "he comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is."

Setoodeh goes on to talk about the problems gay actors face playing straight characters.

Kristin Chenoweth, Hayes' "Promises" costar, promptly fired off an online response that defended Hayes while taking Setoodeh to task for what she called a "horrendously homophobic" piece.

From this--as our sister site, Ministry of Gossip, has noted--has sprung a torrent of columns and comments claiming outrage, overreaction and everything in between. 

Ryan Murphy, creator of the Fox series "Glee,"  is urging a boycott of Newsweek until, he says, an apology is issued to Hayes and others including  "other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out."

"Yikes!" says our colleague, Patrick Goldstein. "What's happening here?" In his Big Picture column, he offers his perspective on how and where things are going in this Broadway battle gone viral.

Whatever happens next, the controversy will probably keep the theater world abuzz for awhile, not only because of the issues involved but because of the popularity of Tony winner Chenoweth, Tony nominee Hayes and, of course, "Glee."

--Karen Wada

Photo: Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Credit: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images.

Comments () | Archives (3)

I'm not sure what play Ramin saw, but I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Sean Hayes in "Promises, Promises" last week and he was fantastic! He brought just the right amount of Jack with him, mixed in with a dash of warmth, tenderness and drop dead good looks, that even this happily married woman swooned over.

A similar controversy broke out among theater critics during the 1960s over whether a gay playwright, Edward Albee, was capable of portraying a heterosexual couple, George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Given the play's continued appeal over nearly a half century, it seems that time has delivered a verdict of "yes."

Here's an interesting assessment of that fracas, from a 2002 edition of the University of Kansas' "Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism."

The kids are so soft now, metrosexual the buzzword, its hard to tell who is gay and who isn't anymore. Plus the large numbers of the down lows, I guess anyone can play a "straight" man these day. Toughness and manliness seem to no longer be counted as positive attributes now, at least in the entertainment "world". But then after all, wasn't Rock Hudson seen as a ladies man back in the day? Of course listening to his dialogue with Doris Day in some of their movies, you know they were knocking some kinda boots constantly backstage.

The innuendos were pretty damn straight, if not the actors. These days, i dont see much sensuality or sexiness at all, straight, gay or whatever gendered. N0 wonder the white population is going down, thank god for my brothers the Latinos, right Gustavo? No, not the Dude, guy I am working with right now. We make babies. Its a manhood thing. Someone has to raise the adorable pains in the asses. Someone has to be responsible, committed and sacrifice, god knows those in the "art world" dont. Meism still is all the rage.

art collegia delenda est


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