June 26, 1970– Sean Hayes:
“When I came out of my mom’s womb, I had ‘sitcom’ stamped on my forehead.”
It really is a dream come true. What could be a better antidote to these crazy times than the craziness of Will & Grace 2017 style? Former Vice President Joe Biden said:
“I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public about Marriage Equality than almost anything anybody has ever done so far…”
It returns to NBC Thursday nights this fall, and series co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are keeping quiet about what fans might expect. The limited series revival could possibly run afoul of the PC police. I sure hope so.
Hayes is a very talented, award-winning, cutie-pie actor and producer, plus he is an out and proud gay man.
Some of you kids are probably too young, but I always found true solace, pride, and lots of laughs by having gay characters appearing in a prime-time sitcoms, even if his Will & Grace character, Jack McFarland, generated controversy and a certain amount of push back by the LGBTQ community for being “too gay”. For me, there really is no such thing. It took a while for him to open that closet door, but in 2010, Hayes told The Advocate:
“I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never. I feel like I’ve contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America, & if anyone wants to argue, I’m open to it.”
Hayes won a bunch of awards statues for his trophy shelf for his turn as the scene-stealing sidekick on Will & Grace (1998-2006), part of NBC’s Thursday night “Must See TV” powerhouse line-up, including an Emmy Award and four SAG Awards. Will & Grace shared NBC’s hot Thursday night with favorites Friends (1994-2004) and Seinfeld (1989-1998). I used to tape them all using a device they called a VCR.
Chicago born Hayes was raised by his mother after his father abandoned the family when Hayes was just 5 years old. He claims that humor was a big part of his growing up with his four older siblings play pranks, including frightening friends with his mother’s prosthetic eye. Always creative, he was drawn to music during high school. He studied voice and acting at Illinois State University, taking gigs as a pianist to make money. He began performing at Chicago’s Second City improv troupe, along with Tina Fey, Steve Carell and the lovely Amy Sedaris.
I first took note of Hayes in the sweet, funny, gay-themed indie film Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998). His work as gay photographer Billy Collier brought him the role on Will & Grace. He held his own with his seasoned comedic co-stars Debra Messing and Eric McCormack, and he had red hot chemistry with Megan Mullally as Karen Walker.
Hayes kept working after Will & Grace went off the air in 2006. On television he has had guest roles on NBC’s 30 Rock, Parks And Recreation, and IFC’s Portlandia (I don’t watch it, I live it). In 2010, he starred on Broadway in a revivial of the Burt Bacharach musical Promises, Promises opposite Kristin Chenoweth, earning him a Tony Award nomination. Playing real life people, Hayes was SAG Award nominated for his excellent work as Jerry Lewis in the made-for-television film Martin And Lewis (2002) with yummy Jeremy Northam as Dean Martin, and he portrayed Larry Fine in the feature film The Three Stooges (2012), which was a bit of a mixed bag, but not Hayes’ fault. He had a swell story arc on the much missed Smash in 2013, reuniting with Messing and NBC. Hayes produced and starred in the not so funny Sean Saves The World which lasted just 15 episodes in 2013, but let’s not discuss this on his birthday. He has better luck as a producer, co-executive producing the NBC series Grimm (2011-17), as well as the creator and executive producer on another NBC series, Hollywood Game Night, plus the producer of the popular Hot In Cleveland (2010-15) on TV Land. He was also the executive producer of The History Of Comedy, a documentary series that aired this spring on CNN.
Last summer, Hayes told Playbill that in the aftermath of the murders at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, he wishes that he had come out of the closet earlier:
“I got Will & Grace, and I thought: ‘Oh, this is different. I don’t know how to handle this. I’m not bright enough, I’m not quick enough, I don’t have the DNA to be a spokesperson for any kind of group of people.’ I had personalissues inside of myself that I regret. I regret not coming out sooner and helping more people, and I regret not coming out during the show. Everybody in the gay community knew I was gay, but it was this fight I had with the press because they want you to come out on their terms, and other gay people want you to come out on their terms, and if you don’t come out on their terms you’re just an asshole, and you’re wrong. Well, each individual human being has a lot of stuff that nobody knows about. Nobody knows what anybody else is going through at any point in their lives.”
“We shouldn’t be fascinated that a straight man can play gay anymore. There’s nothing mind blowing about that anymore. It’s been done. I’d like everyone to just be treated equally, to see people look at you and accept you for who you are as a human being and your spirit. When I ask gay men and women who have children: ‘Tell me how they’re growing up in the world and what their views are as far as gay culture?’ Their answer is: ‘It’s all they’ve ever known, so it’s completely normal to them.’ And could you imagine, if it was ‘All the world has ever known’? What a much better place we’d all be in.”
Would you ever have guessed that Hayes is queer?
Last summer Hayes was on Broadway in the title role of An Act Of God, a well-received satire of Judeo-Christian attitudes and manners by David Javerbaum. Cue the Just Jehovah! jokes. He received terrific reviews.
Always intensely reserved about his private life, Hayes married his adorable, slightly bearish boyfriend of eight years, music producer Scott Icenogle in November 2014. They make an adorable couple. They make funny, sweet videos for their YouTube channel, Kitchen Sync. Happy looks good on Hayes. I think he is just yummy.