November 11, 1965– Max Mutchnick:
“I mean if Will & Grace made me proud of anything, I mean now because it’s over I guess, I could say I am proud that we kept a dignified gay man who lives with a great deal of integrity at the center of a of a television series for 8 years. I always got a lot of heat that we didn’t take the character far enough, that we didn’t see the character sexualize himself enough. My thinking was always let’s just keep the guy on television. Let’s just show people that this man can exist & that he can be your neighbor, he can be your doctor or he can be your son, & we can learn to live with that. I think I was most pleased that the show just stayed on the air. That’s what I’m really proud of.”
Did Will & Grace make your Thursday nights a gay old time for 8 years back in another century? The Husband & I faithfully watched the “Must See TV” line-up including Frasier & Friends. It was a golden time for the traditional sitcom. I was proud & pleased to have a well written, funny show with a gay male lead character. At the time, I was fascinated that America would embrace a show where the male & female leads were not involved romantically.
The show took place in NYC & told the tale of Will Truman, a gay lawyer, & his best friend Grace Adler, a Jewish woman who runs her own interior design firm, plus their friends Karen Walker, a rich socialite, & Jack McFarland, a very gay struggling actor/singer/dancer who also had brief careers as an acting teacher, back-up dancer, cater/waiter, talk show host & student nurse. During its 8 season run, Will & Grace won 16 Emmy Awards, with 83 nominations. All 4 stars each received an Emmy Award during the run of the series, making it one of only 3 sitcoms in the award’s history to do so. Among the show’s hundreds of awards & accolades, it garnered 7 Screen Actor Guild Awards.
For his own work on Will & Grace, the show’s creator/writer/producer Mutchnick has been honored with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, 2 People’s Choice Awards, 7 GLAAD Media Awards, & The National Award For Excellence from the Human Rights Campaign.
Mutchnick started his writing career 35 years ago with his high school BFF, David Kohan. As a team they began writing professionally for The Dennis Miller Show. Hillary Clinton pal & producers Linda Bloodworth & Harry Thomason (Designing Women) gave the kids their big break into the world of sitcoms when they hired them to work on their series about politics, Hearts Afire (1992-95), with the late, great John Ritter, Billy Bob Thornton & openly gay Leslie Jordon. His other TV writing credits: The Wonder Years (1988-93), Evening Shade (1990-94), & HBO’s Dream On (1990-96). In addition to Will & Grace, Mutchnick & Kohan also created & executive produced the comedy series Boston Common (1996-97) & Good Morning, Miami (2002-2004) for their company KoMut Entertainment.
Born in Chicago as Jason Nidorf Mutchnick, mostly raised in LA, Mutchnick grew up in a creative family. His father was a graphic designer who was a founder of the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago, & his mother is an show biz executive & writer children’s books
Mutchnick left LA after high school to attend Emerson College in Boston. Starting as a theatre major, he switched to mass communications. At Emerson, he became involved in the school’s Television program, eventually running the campus station. In 2005, Mutchnick was appointed to Emerson’s Board of Trustees. In 2006, The Max Mutchnick Campus Center was erected. Known as “The Max”, the center is the hub of student life on the campus in Boston’s Back Bay, where I lived in 1972-73.
Mutchnick is an active member of the Big Brother Program of Los Angeles, having mentored his “little brother” for 19 years. He has also been a longtime supporter of the Human Rights Campaign & the Lambda Legal Defense Fund.
Mutchnick lives in LA with his husband, entertainment lawyer Erik Hyman. They were legally married in their backyard in Autumn 2008. The couple are parents of twin daughters.
“I’m a big personality! I’m Mel Brooks & Erik is Anne Bancroft. He’s this sophisticated, elegant guy, & I’m the kind of guy who would have a piece of toilet paper stuck to my heel.”
“My career had been the centerpiece of my life. Then in 2006, the final episode of Will & Grace was broadcast, & I found myself envying Will Truman, who had committed to a life partner & started a family. Will had gotten ahead of me, & I was watching the character have an experience I knew nothing about.”
They moved in together a week after their first date, which was arranged by a mutual female friend. Mutchnick:
“We have not spent a night apart since; I had never met a man as intelligent & confident, or one who could withstand my insecurities & histrionics. I fell immediately for his passion, charm & humor.”
During the Jewish ceremony in their garden, Mutchnick, always the producer, abruptly stopped the ceremony to turn off a fountain that was burbling off-cue. Hyman:
“He’s a show runner, & he likes to run a show.”
Mutchnick & writer partner Kohan had a sitcom for CBS called Partners (2012-13) starring openly gay actor Michael Urie (currently featured on The Good Wife). I tried hard to like it. Their newest series Clipped on TBS was cancelled last month after 8 episodes. He is responsible some of the most wicked & funny dialogue ever on TV, & I am sure a man as talented as Mutchnick will bounce back with something fun for us to watch. In the works: a 1970s set comedy Quick Shots Of False Hope for HBO & CBS’s The Happy Peppers about adult siblings who move in together after their spouses die. I think he is super cute in that extra sexy Jewish way.