Billy Crystal has spoken out to clarify the remarks he made during the winter press tour of the Television Critics Association on Sunday, which were viewed by many as anti-gay. The comedian explained that some of his statements were misleading because they had not been reported in the context in which they were meant.
The actor was at the press tour in support of The Comedians, a half-hour series coming to FX. In response to being asked if it was hard to portray the openly gay character, Jodie Dallas, on Soap at a time when few such roles existed in primetime, and to expand on how he feels about the changes that have occurred in how sex is portrayed on TV since then, Crystal said that he has recently seen some explicit sex scenes and heard questionable language on TV that were “too much for me,” adding that some of the scenes pushed the envelope too far for his own tastes. He did not elaborate on which shows contained the scenes that made him uncomfortable. He also added that he fears that the industry will go so far when airing these scenes that there will become a point where it just “feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
Crystal, 66, was condemned by various media outlets who said that his remarks were anti-gay, even though the room contained approximately 200 members of the media, none of whom requested that he clarify his remark or asked him any follow-up questions. When reached by The Hollywood Reporter, Crystal explained that the point he was trying to convey was that any “sex or graphic nudity…gay or straight….that is gratuitous” is “a little too much for my taste.”
The veteran comedian and actor was at the press tour to discuss his new comedy series. The Comedians is based on a Swedish program from 2004 called Ulveson And Herngren, which starred Johan Ulveson and Felix Herngren as comedians attempting to create a sketch program. When asked why he was choosing to do a comedy series based on one that had already been done, Crystal said when he first became aware of the show, it was “such a beautifully constructed situation” that he jumped on the chance, even though at that time, he had no plans of being in another TV series.
The show will star Crystal as an extremely popular and successful veteran comedian who finds himself partnered with a younger comedian for a late night sketch comedy show. Neither the character played by Crystal or the younger comedian, who will be played by Josh Gad, like the idea of working with each other. The actor, who co-writes and executive produces the series, will be playing a role that is a lot like himself, and will allow the comedian to perform live for a studio audience in addition to filming scenes for the show.
His role in The Comedians is Crystal’s first on a television series since Soap, which aired in the late 1970s. The show, which is scheduled to debut on FX on Apr. 9, will not feature many guest stars. Mel Brooks does appear as himself in an early episode in which he gives Crystal, with whom he has a real-life friendship, advice and cautions him against having guests appear on the show.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Image by David Shankbone cropped for size – License