Being Berlanti

4.6.2008

By Bill Keith


Photo: Getty Images

I think Greg Berlanti is the best thing to happen to TV since the remote, and if you're a regular Popnography reader that can't honestly come as much of a surprise. A quick Google search turns up at least 18 separate posts mentioning him in the last 18 months, and that's not counting entries just about his shows. (Here are some particularly shameless selections.)

As I said at one point, it's not like I think non-queer creators can't make good gay TV;
it's just that they tend to forget until sweeps come around or a Very
Special Episode brings our issues to the front. Berlanti is like the anti-Very Special Episode, even if in some ways he helped pioneer the concept for gay storylines: Jack's big coming out on Dawson's Creek was about as landmark as it gets.

But still, good gay ideas are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. Here's how Berlanti took those inspirations and wound up at number 19 on our Power List:

From the unconventional springboard of a hit gay movie, 2000’s The Broken Hearts Club,
which he wrote and directed at the age of 26, Berlanti’s ascent has
been rapid. The following year he became executive producer of teen
drama sensation Dawson’s Creek and signed a multimillion-dollar three-year contract with the WB under which he created Everwood and Jack & Bobby.
After signing another multimillion-dollar deal with ABC in 2006, the
35-year-old is now the mastermind of three of the most talked-about
dramas on television: Brothers & Sisters, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone.

He
has always played by his own rules because he never thought he’d have
to do anything else. As writers, directors, actors, and armchair
critics bemoaned the lack of gay content in mainstream media, Berlanti
was unfettered, never asking permission to do things that many of his
less ballsy and ultimately less successful contemporaries dared to. As
a result, he’s set himself apart as an understated maverick, creating
the most unusual mass-appeal programming on television. Last summer,
around the same time The Hollywood Reporter was pressured to tone down an obituary noting that TV legend Merv Griffin was gay, Berlanti’s Brothers & Sisters picked up three Emmy nominations, and he was readying two more shows for premiere, including his latest project, Dirty Sexy Money, which enjoyed a larger promotion budget than any show on ABC.

Read Bill Keith's full profile of Berlanti at Out.com, and stay tuned as we post photos from the set of Brothers & Sisters, share snippets of behind-the-scenes gossip during the cover shoot, and post extra outtakes from Dirty Sexy Money's William Baldwin.

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