It was to be an event the likes of which Kansas City had never seen, nor would again. It was the reading of the play “8,”scheduled for July 21st.
For those unfamiliar with the play, “8″ is the true story of two gay couples who wanted to get married but couldn’t. So they lawyered up and took on Proposition 8, the California law making it illegal for gays to marry.
“8” was written by Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black – who you may or may not know from Milk or J. Edgar fame – and is based on actual trial transcripts and interviews with the plaintiffs and families.
The desire to bring the production to KC was the brain child of local dude Nick Padgett of Padgett Productions.
I can’t slip anything past you, can I?
You’re correct, the 21st came and went and you didn’t see “8,” did you?
From the start the plan sounded insanely over ambitious.
The initial all-star cast was to include 20 of the biggest names in Hollywood; names like Jane Fonda, Will Smith, Robert DeNiro, Lance Bass, Felicity Huffrman, Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Rob Lowe, Ben Affleck, Tina Fey, all supposedly locked, loaded and confirmed.
It became clear in the first 72 hours, that while there was no ill intent on anyone’s part, “insanely over ambitious” was a compliment and it would likely never see the light of day, let alone the marque of the Midland.
As the days passed, Hollywood sources indicated the “stars” weren’t ever confirmed and plans crumbled further. The prospect of the Midland – spotlights in the sky, a cast of stars, red carpet, blocks or waiting limos and VIP parties – appeared less and less likely.
It has now regrouped and moved to the Kauffman Center and will go down at 8pm, August 3rd with a new cast of characters. And who, you ask, could ever top that earlier list?
Simple, Emmy-winning writer Bruce Vilanch for one.
You may remember Vilanch for his 4 year run on Hollywood Squares.
Then there’s former NBC soap dude Bruce Michael Hall of “Passions” and “One Life to Live.” (Yeah, I’m right there with you, me either…)
And finally, Jerry Springer, politician, stand-up comic, creepy talk show host extraordinaire, who needs no introduction!
So there’s your all-star lineup.
But just when you thought it was safe to raise the curtain, in comes Sandra Meade, head chick at the Kansas City chapter of Kansas Equality Coalition, a group that represents the rights of the LGBT community.
Meade spoke loudly in objection to 1/3rd of the entire cast and said; “Jerry Springer has stripped much of the transgender community of their dignity, jeopardized their safety, and made it much harder to obtain their legal equality,” adding, “Thanks to the need to constantly battle the narrative of them being deceitful impostors and quacks that the Jerry Springer Show has willingly nurtured for over 20 years on public television.”
I don’t understand Meade’s objections; Springer has done that to every guest on his show – gay or straight – even implicating some farm animals in the process.
Meade’s solution (as if this production needed any more problems):
Boycott a performance already on life support?
Word of the planned boycott got to Padgett, who said he was clueless about Springer’s cross dressing, transgendered show antics. Maybe this is how the plans for this production got to this condition to begin with.
Meade’s reportedly holding out for a press release officially putting a bullet in Springer before she calls the boycott off, but for now, it’s on with the show….what’s left of it, that is.