Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Premiering Tonight

There are two important premières tonight. As just about everyone this side of Little Whinging, Surrey, can tell you that tonight (just after midnight) the new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, opens in theatres. I'm not seeing it until tomorrow afternoon, though, 'cause the midnight IMAX show was already sold out and I'm not up for a 3 a.m. screening. (Yes, they really are having a screening at 2:59 a.m.) The other première, though, is one that many of you haven't heard a word about: Rick & Steve: the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World will debut on the Logo cable channel (included in the basic cable package on many systems). If you thought Will & Grace was about as gay as television could get, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Order of the Phoenix is the fifth of the Harry Potter films, based on the book that came out in 2003. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, the main characters, are 15 years old, so they are beginning to take a more active role in the wizarding world's struggle against the evil Lord Voldemort. The story is darker and more complex than the earlier books, and we meet quite a few more of the wizards who are taking Dumbledore's side. In the film, we get to see Harry flying on his broomstick right up the Thames, past Parliament and Big Ben. We also get to see Harry wrestle with his desire for revenge, in a less structured temptation by the Dark Side than Luke Skywalker faced. The IMAX version is at least partly in 3-D, which should make for (literally) eye-popping special effects. Sadly, there isn't a quidditch game; it would be fun (downright "magical") to have the Golden Snitch fly right out of the screen and buzz around the audience. Next Saturday, the final book of the Harry Potter series (HP and the Deathly Hallows) hits shelves, with quite a few bookstores staying open late Friday night to hand out copies at the stroke of midnight ("the witching hour"?). The sixth film, HP and the Half-Blood Prince, is due out in November 2008, and the principal cast has already signed on for the 7th film.

Rick & Steve: the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World is an animated series using what appear to be little Lego® people. Rick and Steve live in West Lahunga Beach with their cat Pussy and their many gay neighbors, including Chuck & Evan, Kirsten & Dana, and Condie Ling. The voice talent is a veritable openly gay Who's Who: Wilson Cruz, Peter Paige, Alan Cumming, Margaret Cho, and many more. It's laugh-out-loud funny, so much so that some of the punchlines were drowned out in the theatre by the audience laughter at the set-up. I've written recently about the distinction between racial humor and racist humor; Rick & Steve illustrates the distinction between gay humor and gay-bashing humor: it plays with many of the stereotypes (and the partial truths behind the stereotypes) without demeaning the people involved. Warning: if you are offended by puppet-on-puppet sex — a sort of Team America meets Brokeback Mountain kind of thing, only funnier — you probably shouldn't watch Rick & Steve.

The first episode airs on Logo at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, 9 p.m. Central. Each episode will be available on iTunes shortly after the broadcast, and the DVD of Season 1 (and there had better be a Season 2, Logo!) is scheduled for release on August 28.

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