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2001 - November

'Many are not interested in a role on QAFolk'
The Philadelphia Inquirer
by Gail Shister
November 12, 2001

Despite being Showtime's most popular original series, Queer as Folk is still a hard sell to actors.

Three months into production on its second season, the ensemble drama about a group of young gay men and lesbians in Pittsburgh has had difficulty casting several new roles.

"We keep getting, 'Not interested, not interested, not interested,' " sighs Daniel Lipman, executive producer of Queer, along with his partner of 25-plus years, Ron Cowan.

"It's surprising, given the success of the series. I would assume, based on the great exposure and visibility and how our cast gets mobbed at events, that any young actor would want the same thing."

The recurring role of Michael's (Hal Sparks) new boyfriend, for example, was not cast until two weeks ago.

Robert Gant (vice principal on the WB's Popular) will play the character, a professor of Gay Studies at Pitt. He'll replace Chris Potter (chiropractor Dr. Dave), who had only a one-year contract.

The amount of nudity and explicit sexuality in Queer is "a concern" for many actors, Lipman acknowledges.

Still, he has no intention of reducing either in this season's 20 hourlong episodes, to debut in January at 10 p.m. Sundays.

"We don't show sex just to be naughty. We try to use it to reflect the characters' emotional lives. The audience understands that. We get criticized for having too much sex and for not having enough frontal nudity. Go figure."

Last season, the thrill of launching a series felt "like a honeymoon," Cowan says. Season 2 "is the marriage. As we all know, it takes a great deal of work to maintain a successful relationship."

Last season ended with young Justin (Randy Harrison) in the hospital, fighting for his life after being bashed in the head by a baseball-bat-wielding, homophobic classmate. Justin had just left the prom with his on-again, off-again older lover, Brian (star Gale Harold.)

Violence "is a sad fact of gay life," says Cowan. "There are people who hate you and sometimes brutalize you. This is a true reflection of certain gay people who are vulnerable to attack, such as a young man brave enough to be out and vocal."

Most of the cast and crew were shooting a scene on location in downtown Toronto when they got word of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and suburban Washington.

"We were too upset to continue," Cowan recalls. "We went to [cast member] Scott Lowell's place and watched TV for the next 12 hours. Nobody could even talk."