Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Flashback and Forward: "Romance" and Jill Sobule

In 1996, Tracey returned to the small screen, with her first full-time television series in six years, "Tracey Takes On". In its premiere episode, Tracey wasted no time showing just what could done on cable television, and more importantly, what it could become. With its added freedom, a no-holds barred public statement, (albeit, wrapped with humor), was not going to be an issue. It was a crap shoot that not only ended up benefiting Tracey, but made the future for cable television a reality.

The series' pilot episode introduced a whole slew of new characters, with sketches relating to the episode's topic, "romance". One sketch in particular made it obvious that this was not going to be just any ordinary sketch comedy show. It was prepared to dive into subjects that network television was not yet willing to go. For the episode's pinnacle climax , the inclusion of Jill Sobule's song, "I Kissed A Girl", was a no-brainer. Tracey, playing the fed up lover of a pro-golfer, played by Julie Kavner, finally decides it's time to make their love public. The two share a televised kiss, via the eighteenth hole, showing the world their love and commitment to one another.

The episode was the first of many gay-related sketches in "Tracey Takes On" during it's four series run, and GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, took notice. Tracey was awarded the GLAAD Award in 1997, and 1999 . Her continuance inclusion of gays and lesbians into her work, has made her not just a comic icon, but a gay icon as well.

It has now been 11 years since that pilot episode aired, and we thought, who better to look back with than the singer-songwriter whose song helped sum up that scene, than brilliant singer-songwriter, Jill Sobule?

Jill continues to share her music with audiences, and now adds "blogger" to her growing roster of roles. She is a contributor to the popular political news and blogging site, The Huffington Post, (or HuffPo, for those in the know). She also blogs via her web site, on Jill's Journal. Just like her songs, her blogs feature her infinite brand of wit, wisdom, and of course humor, we've come to love and expect.

Jill was kind enough to allow us to discuss her song, her music, her political role, and the state of the Gay and Lesbian community.

Did you see the "Tracey Takes On" sketch when it originally aired?

JS: I did see the show when it aired. I laughed so hard.

Expat: The "Tracey Takes On" sketch aired just ten years ago, the term "lesbian golfer" was referenced as an inside joke, with many players still in closet. Now, gay and lesbian sport heroes compete openly in many fields of athletics and are well respected. Are you happy with the progress the LGBT community has made in the last decade?

JS: OMG! So much progress has been made, to the point of--I am even
tired of lesbians on TV (well, maybe not). When Kissed a Girl came
it, it was "shocking" for the mainstream. Now it seems so mild.
However, having lived either in NYC and LA (as well as being in the
entertainment industry), you can get tunnel vision.
And yes you can be a famous out ex-tennis champ, but I bet it's not
as easy for a female college basketball player.

Expat: You must get massive requests for permission to use "I Kissed A Girl" in television and film. Are there any other gay-themed songs exuding the same free-spirited humor as, "I Kissed A Girl", that you could recommend?

JS: There is a really hilarious (and fairly sick) song, by John S.
Hall called Gay, Not Gay. It is way beyond, I kissed a Girl.

Expat: You currently contribute to the Huffington Post, a political online blog community created by political pundit, Arianna Huffington. Have you always been interested in politics and has the current political climate in the US compelled you to share your thoughts with the online community?

JS: I have been interested in politics since I was wee. Some of my
first good memories of TV was Watergate. I am about to start a blog
for Yahoo Music called The Provocateurs.

Expat: Lastly, you've said that you're working on a new album, how is that coming along and when will it be released?

JS: I bet that I will have a new CD out by next spring.

Thank you Jill, for continuing to share your thoughts and your stories through your music, (and blog!) Thank you for you time.

Jill's music on Amazon and iTunes
Jill's blog on The Huffington Post
Jill's Myspace
Jill's web site

The Human Rights Coalition

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ullman Readies New Showtime Series, And...

Tracey is officially American.

Monday, Sep 10
Ullman Readies New Showtime Series

Is America ready for more Tracey Ullman? The comedic actress is prepping a return to the small-screen that will again showcase her diverse talents as she dresses up and creates a variety of new characters for a new series called State of the Union.

This time it's for Showtime (rather than her former residence HBO) and FBLA ran into Ullman last week at a store opening bash in Beverly Hills. She told us all about the half-hour show that will see her onscreen as a mix of different people including Nancy Pelosi, Ariana Huffington and even David Beckham.

"I haven't done it for a bit so I have a lot left to do," Ullman told FBLA. "It's me as these people and I'll spend 45 seconds on them, visiting lots of different people from across the country; ordinary people, rich people, and people in Nebraska."

Ullman added that she felt a creative burst to examine the state of the USofA thanks to her new citizenship. "I became an American last December - I'm still a Brit because I have dual citizenship - but it gives me a whole new freedom to comment on the country. People would say to me, 'you don't get it, you're not American!' But I am mate, I am now. I stood downtown with 15,000 people from El Salvador waving flags."

For State of the Union, she waved her writing flag with LA author Bruce Wagner. "We are eclectic people and we love what's going on. It's a different era and there is an election coming up. So it's been interesting to shoot the show, which will come out in March."

Any funny hints about some of the new characters? "I love Bollywood movies right now so I do this one Indian pharmacy assistant who lives in Tennessee. She can dance and tell you about the side effects of drugs."

We will definitely be tuning in.



Saturday, September 8, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

NY Fashion Week Parties

Where’s Martin?
L.A. style setters—at least the ones who hadn't already left for fashion week in New York—descended upon Beverly Hills for the opening of the Maison Martin Margiela boutique, housed in a glittering building covered entirely in metallic discs. Tracey Ullman played with her Margiela pearl-and-leather necklace and proclaimed the city “totally ready” for the designer. “We’ll never see him, of course,” she laughed, craning her neck. “Wonder who he might be?” Alas, the reclusive designer was a no-show—as far as we could tell.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Leslie Ash's Survival Story

Actress Leslie Ash has earlier revealed how an accident left her fighting for survival. Here, in the last part from her autobiography, she describes how she learned to walk again and the moment she realised her career was in peril

Flowers and cards filled my hospital room. Everyone had been so kind, from old friends like Tracey Ullman to people I had never met. I felt humbled that so many people were showing me such kindness.

Click here to read the story.