Sunday, May 19, 2013

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is an American television writer, producer and director. He is the creator of cult television series Everwood and co-creator of Jack & Bobby, No Ordinary Family and Arrow. He is also the writer of Green Lantern. Today's Out Spotlight is Greg Berlanti.

Greg Berlanti born on May 24, 1972 in Rye, New York, to Barbara Moller Berlanti and Eugene Berlanti. The only boy has one sister, Dina and is the uncle of two nieces. He described his early life in an August 2004 interview with Entertainment Weekly as "We were Italians in a town of WASPs" and his family was not "doing as well as 90% of the community."

After each of his shows is his Berlanti Television logo which features a family with their backs to the audience and a quote which says "Greg, move your head!" which is actually what his father Gene used to yell at him when he was blocking the television screen.

Early on there were indications that he would have a career in writing and directing while still a kid. When he was teen, he used to design and build puppets and even had a small business performing puppet shows at local children's birthday parties.

Also early as a teen, Berlanti realized he was gay and sought out, surreptitiously, whatever bits of gay culture he could find. He recalled, in an interview given much later in his life, sneaking home copies of The Village Voice from a local deli when he was about thirteen after discovering that the alternative New York weekly newspaper contained gay-themed articles.

Later, when he worked part-time at a local video store after school, he would watch films starring Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson just to see other gay people.

Berlanti attended Rye High School and later studied acting and playwriting at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He graduated from Northwestern in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater.

Soon after graduating, he moved to Los Angeles with the expectation of landing a writing job in either television or film. Ultimately, however, he found employment in a string of temporary office jobs and in his off-hours wrote a series of scripts, all of which were roundly rejected. Despite living and working in LA he said he never felt so far away from his dream of working in films and television.

In the summer of 1996, while his parents were visiting San Francisco on vacation Berlanti traveled up to join them. He recalled one night sitting in his parents' hotel room, watching the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics on television and suddenly and on impulse, he turned off the television set and told his parents he was gay. They were taken aback by the surprise announcement, and "the next year was bumpy for us," Berlanti explained in an interview.

However, his parents eventually accepted his sexuality. When his first film, the gay-themed The Broken Hearts Club, premiered in New York City in 2000, his parents hosted a party at a gay club to celebrate the event, and invited not only their son's friends, but their own friends as well.

Berlanti's career in television began with the groundbreaking teen soap opera Dawson's Creek, in which he and the show's creator, Kevin Williamson, introduced the first romantic kiss between two gay male characters on network television. He has also served as creator, writer, director, or producer on such hour-long dramas as Everwood, Jack & Bobby, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Brothers & Sisters.

The first movie Berlanti  wrote and directed was the feature-length films, the semi-autobiographical The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, about a group of gay friends  in West Hollywood, which he based on his own circle of friends as the time.  when he was 26. The movie starred Ben Weber, Timothy Olyphant, Zach Braff, Justin Theroux, Dean Cain, and John Mahoney.

In August 2006, he announced a new deal with Touchstone Television and ABC to create new pilots. In conjunction with the announcement, Berlanti also announced a parting of the ways with longtime creative partner Mickey Liddell. At the same time, news surfaced that he was acting as a consultant for the new ABC series Brothers &  Sisters, which he ended as executive producer of the award-winning series from 2006 to 2011.

The show, created by the gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz, centered on a politically diverse California family and prominently features several gay characters, including an openly gay attorney (Matthew Rhys), his life partner (out actor Luke Macfarlane), and his uncle (Ron Rifkin), who eventually comes out as a gay man and later in the series learns he has been infected with the HIV virus.

Berlanti was also the executive producer of Dirty Sexy Money which debuted on ABC on September 26, 2007.

With Marc Guggenheim, he co-wrote Eli Stone, a television pilot for ABC which debuted as a mid-season replacement in 2008. The legal drama went on to be picked up by ABC for two season.  Serving as executive producer, Berlanti,  a huge fan of the openly gay singer George Michael, persuaded the singer to appear in several episodes of the show as himself. Additionally, each episode of the show's first season was named after one of Michael's songs.

In 2010  he directed the film Life As We Know It, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel.

Berlanti produced and co-wrote the script for Green Lantern  a film version of the popular DC Comics superhero series of the same name.

Explaining his interest in the film, he observed in an interview, "The thing I always really identified with about comic books--and only years later realized it had to do with my sexuality--was that they were outsiders but could look and seem like they were 'normal,' but yet they harbored this secret. I think that's what drew me to them and what's so emotionally evocative about them for me--that burden of feeling different. Also, so many times they're not of this world and yet they're forced to protect that world--something they're really not even totally a part of."

Berlanti has several more feature film and television series in production.

He continues to reside in Los Angeles, with his partner, the television writer Brian Young.

"It's been one of the easier, nicer parts of my life," Berlanti said of his relationship. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to just be together, whether it's going for dinner or hiking or whatever."


the real m said...

Fascinating spotlight today. Maybe more so for me because I was totally addicted to Evermore and Brothers and Sisters. I've watched every season of both more than once. I recall Stephen G directing an episode of Everwood and it really had a special feel to it. This was before I followed Jake and later I rewatched it once I knew who Stephen G was. I've been meaning to watch Dawsons Creek out of curiosity. Someday I will do a netflix binge. I tried to watch the Broken Hearts movie because Timothy Oliphant wasin it, but I always lose interest in it before too long. I'll give it another try now that I know Greg's history.

Glad you all enjoyed the clip I sent. I'll be on the road for the next week and will replay it for myself while travelling. I'll have limited opportunity to check in on this trip. Email me if sometihng spectacular happens.

Seaweed said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Special.

I really enjoyed this Out Spotlight as I've been such a great fan of this young man's work. Everwood was such a great series and I've been in love with Brothers and Sisters as well.

Had not idea exactly who Greg Berlanti was and what his connection was to these shows.

Looking forward to getting home soon and settling into my regular pace for a little while.

Hope everyone is well and happy.


prairiegirl said...

Hi Seaweed, good to see you. I've yet to read the Spotlight but I am. It's been a crazy day at work, of which it now feels like a wonderfully, blessed cakewalk compared to what I am watching right now.

prairiegirl said...

You guys, this is just horrific what has happened today in Oklahoma. It is heartbreaking and it's one of the worst things you can imagine.

It's like a nightmare. It's just so much worse when it involves children and that I know of, there have been 2 elementary schools hit. One of the schools they said was just leveled.

The pictures are unbelievable - entire neighborhoods are just gone. And you can see people just wandering around in shock; they've just lost absolutely everything. I've seen a couple of people walking around carrying their billfolds, carrying their dog. I cannot imagine.

Jersey Tom said...

The pictures are unbelievable PG. Scary stuff. Hopefully those people will be able to get their lives back together soon.

Special K said...

I didn't know anything until I got home from work. Devastating. Completely devastating. Your heart goes out to all the people and the families of the those children.

Special K said...

How To Help Oklahoma

Huffington Post

prairiegirl said...

The death toll just jumped from 37 to 51, just like that. These poor, poor people.

And the pictures of the tornado are unbelievable. That thing was huge.

It's just humbling to watch and hear the victims speak after having just lost their homes and/or pets. They're just thankful to be alive and have their loved ones alive as well.

prairiegirl said...

I've seen that movie Life As You Know It, it was pretty good. I have also seen that movie, The Broken Hearts Club. Very good Out Spotlight, Special. This guy really did start from scratch and become extremely successful, good for him!