Light My Fire
New York firefighters didn't appreciate the "amateur" slam hurled at them by a cop on police reality show NYPD 24/7. But they do like FX's firefighter comedic drama Rescue Me, even though it deals with alcoholism and homophobia. In fact, several FDNY firefighters gather to watch Rescue Me
on Wednesdays at Kettle Black, a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn owned by fellow firefighter Robert Casatelli.
On the Aug. 4 episode, Chief Jerry Reilly, played by actor and former firefighter Jack McGee, assaults an outspoken gay firefighter who claimed that 20 gay firefighters died at Ground Zero. For McGee, it all rings true.
But do his fellow firefighters agree? We asked some members of FDNY. While they lauded Rescue Me
for exposing the internal struggle that firefighters face, they took issue with a few plot lines.
"Nobody's going around beating gay people up," says one Manhattan firefighter. "The gay thing's a non-issue."
Real-life Jersey City, N.J., Battalion Chief Roy Miller disagrees. He thinks the show highlighted not "gay-bashing but a dispute over the memories of the fallen."
Main character Tommy Gavin's drinking problem is another touchy subject.
Ed Sullivan, a 16-year FDNY veteran who plays firefighter Billy Zane on the show, says the show wouldn't feel real if Gavin, a tortured survivor of 9/11 played by Denis Leary, wasn't struggling. "It is not like he's having a sangria party in the firehouse. He is having a drink because of the stress," says Sullivan, who worked the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attack.
His comrades are less forgiving. "Drinking at the station? That's total Hollywood garbage," says a New York firefighter. "It doesn't happen. Come in with alcohol in your system, you can lose your job."
Sullivan, who helps coordinate the Kettle Black screenings with Casatelli, says similar viewing parties are popping up in the city. He urges his FDNY and NYPD friends to tune in. "We don't like to see ourselves in a bad light, but this is the most realistic show out there," he says. "This is what it's like to be a brother."
Spawn of Oprah
It has been rumored for months that Oprah Winfrey's Harpo production company was developing a show with designer Nate Berkus. Now that The Oprah Winfrey Show
has been renewed through 2011, insiders say, the rumor is getting some traction. If the show materializes, Trading Spaces
host Paige Davis will be part of it. Berkus and Davis appeared together on Oprah
earlier this year, with Berkus redecorating Davis' New York City apartment. As part of Oprah's renewal announcement, Winfrey stated that developing new shows is part of her mission. (We give you the success of Dr. Phil.) If Berkus and Davis are Winfrey's next chosen ones, many people will be eager to play trading spaces with them.
Audience members who went to see comedian and Arrested Development
star David Cross at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre last week didn't leave empty-handed. Many went home with Cross' personal property, including his size-101/2 sneakers; a sweater; tapes of Cross' old HBO series, Mr. Show; and, most notably, his TV Land "Future Classic" award. Cross won for his role as brother-in-law Tobias Funke in the critically acclaimed Arrested Development. Why the giveaways? It was Cross' way of thanking the crowd for letting him test material for his upcoming run at London's Soho Theatre. Was TV Land upset? "I think it's kind of Andy Kaufman-esque," says Vice President of Production Sal Maniaci. "He's sharing the award with fans, who are hopefully fans of TV, which is OK by us." The Future Classic award recognizes shows that TV Land hopes to include in its vintage lineup one day. With seven Emmy nods this year and a renewal for a second season, Arrested Development
is on its way.