Doc Examines Humanity of Hollywood Hunt

8/10/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

What would compel someone to subject himself to the hyper-humiliation that is reality TV? Viewers get another chance to find out — and to experience the current trend in gay-focused TV — in The AMC Project: Gay Hollywood.

At least this time, the folks at the helm have screen cred as quality documentarians. The director/producer is Jeremy Simmons, who was also responsible for School's Out: The Life of a Gay High School in Texas, which aired on MTV: Music Television. The producers also made the wacky doc The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

The subjects here are five gay men trying to make careers for themselves in Hollywood. For extra tension, most of them are in or approaching their 30s and will soon have to come to grips with The Big Decision: How long do they try to leverage their moderate post-college success into a real career? If they don't make it in Hollywood, what are they and where do they go next?

At times, the eventuality of failure looms large. That's the case when the camera follows screenwriting hopeful Benjamin Morgan to meeting after meeting with producers. Each, remarkably, gently tries to tell him that he just isn't getting it. Viewers are left either baffled or in admiration of his persistence.

There is an air of artificiality about the documentary: Friends and supporters always surround the subjects. Harsh words are never spoken, not even in the most pointed rejection. The latter would be the failure of model/actor Robert Laughlin, who doesn't convince a producer on Extra
that he should do culture segments on the show. Note to Robert: When pitching a producer, don't ask if the four-year veteran anchor you saw in a segment is "some new girl."

The biggest ray of hope is Micah McCain, who comes to manic life when he assumes his alter ego, Bridgette of Madison County. In the beginning of the doc, he's all concept and no execution, but by the end, he's got a solid drag queen/comedy stand-up and is on the brink of a gig on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

The project does a good job in a short time frame, focusing on the humanity of these guys, not just their frosted hair and love lives.

The AMC Project: Gay Hollywood
debuts Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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