UPDATED: Kristin Chenoweth Slams Newsweek Over ‘Homophobic’ Article, Writer Responds
First Published: May 11, 2010 5:47 PM EDT Credit: Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Kristin Chenoweth has taken aim at Newsweek, after one of the magazine’s columnists took aim at her Broadway co-star — Sean Hayes – as well as other gay actors in entertainment, suggesting their portrayals of straight men are generally, unbelievable.
In an April 26 online Web piece, writer Ramin Setoodeh claimed the former “Will & Grace” star, who recently confirmed he is gay to The Advocate, came across as “wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is,” in the Broadway musical revival of “Promises, Promises” alongside Chenoweth. Setoodeh’s larger point in his article, which was titled, “Straight Jacket,” was that, “an actor’s background does affect how we see his or her performance.”
Chenoweth was angered by a host of Setoodeh’s opinions in the article, and penned an open letter to the magazine stumping for her co-star and for the lesbian, gay, bsexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
“I was shocked on many levels to see Newsweek publishing Ramin Setoodeh’s horrendously homophobic ‘Straight Jacket,’ which argues that gay actors are simply unfit to play straight,” she wrote in an open letter to the mag, posted on several Web sites including AutoStraddle.com (the location to which she personally Tweeted a link).
Chenoweth took aim at the magazine on several counts, including Setoodeh’s slamming of Jonathan Groff, another gay star (and Rachel Berry’s latest “Glee” crush), whom Setoodeh wrote, comes across “more like your average theater queen,” and “a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel.”
“I’d normally keep silent on such matters and write such small-minded viewpoints off as perhaps a blip in common sense,” Chenoweth wrote. “But the offense I take to this article, and your decision to publish it, is not really even related to my profession or my work with Hayes or Jonathan Groff (also singled out in the article as too ‘queeny’ to play ‘straight.’),” she wrote.
Chenoweth, who claims in her open letter that Setoodeh is himself gay, explained that the writer’s piece was insulting on a host of levels.
“This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian. For example, there was a time when Jewish actors had to change their names because anti-Semites thought no Jew could convincingly play Gentile,” she wrote.
In his piece, Setoodeh said that he found lesbian Cynthia Nixon’s portrayal of a straight woman in “Sex and The City” acceptable for audiences because she, “was married to a man when she originated Miranda” — another of the author’s points with which Chenoweth took issue.
“Cynthia Nixon only ‘got away with it’ ’cause she peaked before coming out? I don’t know if you’ve missed the giant ‘Sex and The City’ movie posters, but it seems most of America is ‘buying it,’” the actress added.
Chenoweth went on to note that from the perspective of a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supporter, pieces like Setoodeh’s, are a bad influence on young people.
“I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Sean Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret,” she noted, further adding, “I encourage Newsweek to embrace stories which promote acceptance, love, unity and singing and dancing for all!”
As a result of her letter, Chenoweth has been applauded by a number of stars that were thrilled she stood up for her co-stars and the gay community.
“GO GIRL! Kristin Defends Sean, Takes on Newsweek,” “Ugly Betty’s” Michael Urie Tweeted on Friday.
Andy Cohen, the host of “Watch What Happens” on Bravo, also championed Chenoweth’s piece.
“you earned your fruity pebbles today w/ your great response to that ridic newsweek piece,” he Tweeted on Saturday.
On Monday night, however, Setoodah responded to the criticism in a new article titled “Out of Focus,” in which he defended himself against a host of online posts that suggested (amongst other allegations) that he was “an idiot.”
“You can disagree with me if you like, but when was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor?” Setoodah wrote on Monday, trying to redirect attention to the motive behind his first article. “The point of my essay was not to disparage my own community, but to examine an issue that is being swept under the rug.”
The writer went on to claim he was personally attacked online, through phone calls and one particularly “creepy letter,” which was sent to his home.
“I was compared to Ann Coulter and called an Uncle Tom,” he continued.
“My article became a straw man for homophobia and hurt in the world,” he added, concluding that he “was hoping to start a dialogue that would be thoughtful — not to become a target for people who twisted my words.”
The heat, however, has not died down. Another star has come forward to criticize Setoodah’s original words – Broadway leading man and “30 Rock” star Cheyenne Jackson.
“It was infuriating on so many levels. Not only does [Setoodeh] say that a gay man can’t play straight, he got personal, picking on Sean Hayes in ‘Promises, Promises,’ [pointing out] certain scenes where he thinks [Sean] is stiff and uncomfortable,” Jackson told Sirius OutQ radio host Frank DeCaro at a talk back event in NYC on Monday. “And then he picks on Jonathan Groff, who just came out. He’s a young teen heartthrob. He’s so talented and so delicious and needs our love and support. Instead, [Setoodeh] says he’s not believable at all. It was very veiled self-loathing. Really upsetting.”
Urie went beyond his Twitter championing of Chenoweth, attacking Setoodah for his remarks about Groff.
“And to attack, to quote ‘Ugly Betty,’ someone [like Groff] recently ‘hatched from the gay egg’ is unconscionable and he should be strung [up],” he said, according to Advocate.com.
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