DC EXCLUSIVE: Sordid Lives Creator Del Shores Sets The Record Straight
Ever had one of those television shows premiere and one person after another tell you how much you're going to love it, and that you just have to watch it, then you finally tune in and end up wondering what all the fuss was about? That's how I felt the first time I tried to watch LOST and almost developed a brain bleed trying to follow its complex plotlines. Praise the Lord and pass the Moonshine, that wasn't the case when I finally caught a marathon of LOGO's insanely-addictive Sordid Lives: The Series!
Part Tennessee Williams play, part first five seasons of Dallas, part Carol Burnett Show skit on acid and all rip-roaring fun, SLTS is the story of a dysfunctional Southern Baptist family (Is there really any other kind?), complete with a 70-year-old matriarch, Peggy (The Golden Girls' Rue MacClanahan), who is having an affair with the decades younger G.W. (David Steen, husband of All My Children's Bobbie Eakes), a legless Vietnam vet, who is married to Noleta (Caroline Rhea), the depressive, gun-toting, best friend of Peggy's no-nonsense daughter Lavonda (Ann Walker), who lives with Peggy's scripture-quoting sister Sissy (Beth Grant), and is estranged from her own sister, Peggy's other daughter, the pious, wealthy Republican Latrelle (Bonnie Bedelia), whose husband has left her for a Mu-la-tto woman, and whose beloved son Ty (Jason Dottley,real-life husband of series creator Del Shores ), is an L.A.-based actor, struggling with how to come out of the closet to his sanctimonious mother.
In a bit a tragicomic irony, Latrelle has had her younger brother Earl aka Brother Boy (Will and Grace's Leslie Jordan in his breakout role), placed in a mental institution where he can be "dehomosexualized". Unfortunately for Latrelle things aren't looking so good on that front, as Brother Boy lives, and routinely performs for the other patients in drag as his idol, the late Tammy Wynette. Wynette isn't the dramedy's only musical tie-in, Grease's Sandy herself, Olivia Newton-John, also appears as Bitsy Mae, a sexually-ambigious ex-con-turned-aspiring Country and Western singer, who is taken in by Peggy. Is it any wonder why I fell in love with this show?
From the moment I first caught a marathon of SLTS last year, I have been near-obsessed about when LOGO would air new episodes, even Facebooking Bobbie Eakes (who reocurred on the dramedy's first season as an actress on the soap opera Noleta watches from her couch), to find out if she had heard any word on when or if the series would be coming back for a second season.
Imagine my dismay when this week, series creator Del Shores revealed on his Facebook profile, that although LOGO quickly ordered a second season of SLTS shortly after the dramedy's record-setting debut for the cabler, the renewal was contingent upon the production company, Once Upon a Time Films and the foreign distribution company, IMG International, also agreeing to financial committments. Since, according to Shores, IMG hadn't signed on for season two, and the production company had yet to pay Shores, his cast or crew any residuals for the series— which Shores says has aired 262 times in the U.S. alone— a second season wouldn't likely be happening. Since Shores spoke out, several blogs have picked up the story, erroneously reporting that Shores, his cast and crew were owed residuals from LOGO. Daytime Confidential spoke with Shores yesterday, via cell phone, as the ingeniuous playwright/screenwriter and TV scribe drove to San Francisco to perform his one-man show Del Shores: Storyteller. Below Shores himself clarifies exactly what has been going on behind-the-scenes with his beloved series.Daytime Confidential: First let me say how sad I am to hear Sordid Lives won't be airing a second season on LOGO. The show isn't just hilarious, it was heartfelt.
Del Shores: Thank you so much. I'm so glad the show and those crazy characters were able to effect so many lives. I just want to point out though, that a lot of blog sites are misquoting what I wrote on my Facebook profile, it is the production company that owes us money, not LOGO. LOGO has been great. They do a great job with the two nickels Viacom gives them for programming. LOGO immediately wanted to do the second season, but the production company and the foreign distributor had to agree to pay their share of the production costs. The production company hasn't even paid us any residuals, and the foreign distributor never agreed to go in for season two.
DC: I can't believe they wouldn't want to do a second season of a hit cable show! You also wrote for Showtime's Queer As Folk and ABC's Dharma and Greg, among other series, is there any chance you could take Sordid Lives to another network or cable channel?
DS: That's the thing, I don't even own the rights to my own show. The production company owns the rights. I tried to buy the rights back, which would help them, since they owe us so much money, and might have prevented the Guilds from going after them, but they were asking for much more than I could justifty spending. They refused to budge. I spent the last four years of my life on this project and have barely been paid anything even though the show was a hit.
DC: I read on your Facebook profile that your house is in foreclosure. It's so sad to hear that after pouring your life into your art, something like this happens.
DS: Yes, and what's sadder is all of the hateful, malicious comments that have been made about us on message boards. I went on to one site where people were saying "it serves 'em right" and "I don't feel sorry for them, I bet the little toyboy will leave him now".
DC: They were talking about your husband Jason Dottley who stars in Sordid Lives as Ty?
DS: Yes, you know the thing that people don't understand, Jason and I have been together for seven years. He only got the role on Sordid Lives last year. Our relationship isn't based on the show, yet people would rather be vicious and say, "he should be ashamed of himself. 50-year-old man with that 28-year-old-boy". It's like they are happy about our misfortune, and this is on a gay website's message board! Now don't get me wrong, I have had tremendous support from my gay audience, but sometimes gays will eat their own.
DC: On Facebook you credited Jason with helping you get through this trying time and helping you decide to go back on the road, which is where you started with your plays. You're currently touring as part of your one-man show Del Shores: Storyteller. Has it been difficult running in to all the Sordid Lives fans wondering about a second season for the show?
DS: You know Jamey, that's what made me decide to come forward with what was going on. Everywhere I go, people are asking me about the series and I felt it was immoral to stay silent. Recently when I was in Nashville for my show, so many people told me they signed up for LOGO, which is a gay-themed channel, just to watch the show, straight people, who paid $14.95 just to watch Sordid Lives, and they have watched the first season over and over again, and wanted to know when we were coming back. I owed it to them to tell the truth. Now a lot of people are mad at me, but the fans are glad I spoke up.
DC: Sordid Lives: The Series is actually a prequel to the movie Sordid Lives, which you also wrote, is there any chance of you turning the second season into another feature film?
DS:You know, that could be a possibility, if Regent Releasing, who released the first movie, were interested in doing another film. I would be game for that, but I still own the stage rights, so I can always turn the second season into a play as well.
DC: Speaking of plays, when I was in college, my school, Southern Arkansas University, did a production of your play Daddy's Dyin (Who's Got The Will?), it was hysterical. I remember thinking in the audience, 'This is my family, only they're white!'
DS: Well actually, Theater Theater in Los Angeles, which is where the play originally debuted, just did a version with an all-black cast. It was a riot!
DC: Oh I bet!
DS: I loved it, and I usually hate any stagings that I didn't do myself!
DC: Well you know, you have to figure out some well to tell the next chapter of Sordid Lives, I need to know what happens to Sissy for killing that goat, not to mention Peggy and Brother Boy! I even pestered poor Bobbie Eakes a couple of times on Facebook.
DS: Oh I had so much funny shit written for Leslie in season two! Don't worry, those actors and I love each other and we will work together again. Right now we're just in mourning. Bobbie Eakes is amazing, isn't she?. At one point when we weren't sure if Bonnie Bedelia was going to do the series, I thought about her for Latrelle, but she was too young.
DC: Oh I would love to see what Bobbie would do with more of your material. Her All My Children character Krystal debuted as that kind of sassy, Southern fireball. Growing up in Texas I can relate to those types of characters. What can you tell us about Del Shores: Storyteller?
DS: For Del Shores: Storyteller, I am telling the real deal behind the stories in my plays. It's part stand up, part theater. I tell about the friends and family who inspired the characters in all of my works. You know, that's why I love Bonnie Bedelia so much, because she is my mother. My mother really did raise us to believe that we were better than the rest of our family!
DC: I know you're coming here to Atlanta on April 24, I can't wait to see the show and write a review!
DS: Great, now you be kind now!
DC: After loving Sordid Lives, I can't imagine I'd find too much to complain about with your work.
For more information on Del Shores and Del Shores: Storyteller click here. To join his Official Facebook Fan club, go here.