Gay Rights Group Demands Apology from Newsweek

Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes appear at the curtain call for the opening night performance of the Broadway musical "Promises, Promises" in New York, Sunday, April 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
AP Photo/Charles Sykes
A gay rights group is demanding an apology from Newsweek magazine for a recent story that the group says suggested gay actors can't play straight characters.

"An actor's personal life should not be a factor in their believability in a role," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "That would be tantamount to audiences not buying Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl as lovers in their upcoming film 'Killers' because the two are happily married to different people in real life."

GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said the magazine has not offered the apology sought by the group, but that the topic was discussed with Barrios and Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk," during a Q&A with Newsweek on Wednesday. He said he believed that discussion would be published in the next issue.

Some Hollywood stars blasted the magazine and writer Ramin Setoodeh for an April 26 story that said it was OK for straight actors to play gay roles, but "it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse."

In the story, Setoodeh criticized Sean Hayes' latest leading-man performance on Broadway, writing that the openly gay actor "comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is."

Ryan Murphy, creator of the hit Fox series "Glee," called for a boycott of the magazine until it apologizes to its gay readers, Hayes and "and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel and mind-blowingly bigoted piece."

Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite Hayes in "Promises, Promises" on Broadway, defended her co-star and denounced the Newsweek article in a letter to the editor.

"No one needs to see a bigoted, factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can't be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams," she wrote.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, however, defended the magazine and its writer in an essay published Wednesday by The Huffington Post website.

Sorkin blamed the tabloid-fueled drive to know every detail about performers' personal lives and the institutionalized homophobia found in the American military, and national marriage and adoption laws.

Newsweek did not respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.