Logo on June 26 will air a new awards/event franchise dubbed Trailblazers that will celebrate leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who have blazed a path for equality and awareness. With a star-studded lineup that includes recording artists Demi Lovato, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Ariana Grande, as well as actors Daniel Radcliffe and Jared Leto, the LGBT community-targeted network is hoping to appeal to its audience as well as to casual viewers during LGBT Pride Month. Trailblazers executive producer Ryan Kroft spoke to Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the event and the significance of airing the taped special on the first anniversary of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). An edited transcript follows.
MCN: How did the Trailblazers event come about?
Ryan Croft: Recently, Logo did some research with the audience, and what it learned very quickly was that the audience is very passionate about learning more about the innovators in the LGBT community who paved the way to get to where we are today, and whose shoulders we stand upon. We thought that taking a moment now when there seems to be so many strides being made today in LGBT rights that it’s a perfect time to say let’s look back and really honor the people who have helped get us here.
MCN: How do you make this awards show stand out from all of the others in the marketplace?
RC: For us, we really wanted to create the biggest pride event on television during Pride Month when everyone is talking about LGBT pride, and so I think it stands out as that. Of course, there lots of awards events on TV, but we’re super-excited because it is our first event and we’re so thrilled to get so many celebrities, luminaries and musicians to sign on in its first year. The date is also significant because June 26 was the one-year anniversary of the repeal of [the federal Defense of Marriage Act] and also that week was the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, so we thought this was the perfect time to pause and honor trailblazers in LGBT rights.
MCN: Were you surprised at the number of celebrities that singed up to appear in the show?
RC: Yes. (Laughs.) You never know going into planning a new event how the Hollywood and music community will respond, so we were really pleasantly surprised.
MCN: How does the Trailblazers event help build the Logo brand?
RC: I think Trailblazers, in being one of the first of the new programs for Logo, shows the way in which Logo is building a new slate of programming, specials and tent poles that are inspired by the LGBT community. It’s a great forerunner for everything to come.
MCN: How do you determine whether Trailblazers is a success?
RC: Obviously, we’re going to look at ratings and look at overall social-media buzz, but I think for us the fact that in the first year we’ve created the biggest Pride event on television where we’ve assembled a group like [first openly gay pro basketball player] Jason Collins, the stars of [Netflix’s] Orange Is the New Black, and Demi Lovato, just to name a few, it already feels like a big success for us. The goal is for this to be an annual event so that in Pride Month every year, [we] stop and reflect on who the leaders in LGBT civil rights are and how they’ve led the way toward equality, and create an ongoing pride event on TV.