ENTERTAINMENT / WEB SERIES / Show Tracker
ignal 23 TV is heating things up this season with its racy new show About Him. The ‘seriously sexy drama’ is the network’s second LGBT scripted series and unveils the common struggles of young men confronting and embracing same sex attraction. In addition to starring fresh faces Brandon Karson (Damien), Darone Okolie (Marion) and Gary Lavard (Vincent), About Him also features adapted storylines lifted from a Tyson Anthony novel of the same title.
Before the premiere on February 29, MOSWN.com caught up with Anthony and the show’s director, Henderson Maddox, for an inside look and also the latest on The Boyz Next Door franchise.
You guys are getting ready to premiere your new scripted series About Him soon. I checked out the trailer and it looks really, really good. So what things can we expect?
Tyson Anthony: It’s a combination of everything. You’ll get the drama, the humor, and the sex.
The storyline is based on a novel you wrote in 2013. How did you two connect for this project?
Henderson Maddox: I did Steel River a few years ago and I had a lot of fans that wanted more of the show but it had ended. So I was trying to fill that void. When I read Tyson’s book I was like, ‘this is it!’ I hit him up but he pushed me to the side for like a year [laughs].
TA: Basically [laughs]. At first I didn’t want to give it away because I was so into it. It was one of my most popular stories. But it began to die out at a point and I thought it deserved more life. The only logical next step was a movie or TV show. I contacted Henderson after I saw him posting about the movie (Good Wood) he was making. I saw the quality of what he was producing and I decided to let him have About Him. I was nervous coming back to him because I didn’t know if he was going to brush me off like I did him, but it worked out.
You’ve nicknamed the series “the gay wonder years.” Why are you calling it that?
HM: I loved The Wonder Years. I loved the dynamic of the story and the way it was told. When Tyson first gave me the script I felt like we needed to add something to it. I automatically went to The Wonder Years. It’s somewhat of a similar story… a coming-of-age story about a young boy going through life. I call About Him “the gay wonder years” because in the original series the story is being told by an older version of the lead character. It’s like a 50-year-old version of himself narrating his whole life as the viewer watches. I pitched that idea to Tyson to see what it would do to the script. Once he did it, it totally changed the script.
TA: It made it way better.
HM: It was funny, cute, quirky, everything all in one. So that’s why I nicknamed the show “the gay wonder years,” because the wonder years are just that time in your life where you don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re just wondering about your days and how you’re going to make it through this and how you’re going to make it through that. But once you get older and you mature, you can go back and reflect on that time in your life.
I also saw that the series is set in the ’90s. Why did you choose that decade versus having it in present day?
HM: The ’90s were my time. And nobody has really done the ’90s. It was such a great time period. I’m from Atlanta and it was definitely a great period for Atlanta. I almost wanted to relive my childhood a bit through the series. It’s interesting and I think it works because everything I do, I do it to teach people something. The older generation is going to love the show, but today’s generation, these kids don’t know what happened in the ’90s. I taught high school once and I would name something from my childhood and they would look at me like I was crazy. So I get to educate these youngsters about what they missed out on.
You have three leading actors in the series. How did they become involved with the show?
HM: Casting was a challenge because of the sex. It takes a lot to be comfortable with that. Whenever I do a project where you have to cast a gay character it’s always the hardest. Gay men don’t even want to play gay men. But with everything I do God just kind of makes it happen. Brandon, who plays the lead, was one of the first few people who submitted online. When I saw him I liked his look and I was so waiting to see his audition, but he didn’t show up to the original casting call. Then finally I got his video audition. I liked him but I needed to see him in person. Gary, he’s a friend of mine. At first I asked him to audition for Damien but it wasn’t right. Then we switched him over to Vincent and it was perfect. Darone is an amazing, talented actor that I worked with on my last project called Products of the American Ghetto. With the character of Marion we needed somebody who could bring across that asshole, angry persona. It’s just something that he’s really good at doing. He really commits to the character and the role. He’s really pushing the show too. He believes in the project. It’s nice to see when someone can step outside of who they are and be comfortable with something like this and really push it. He was the perfect person for the role.
Is the show living up to the vision you had while writing the novel, Tyson?
TA: Well, yeah. I wrote it in episodes and the way I posted it online was chapter one was episode one, chapter two was episode two… every ten episodes I would technically call it a season, so it was already in that format and easy to convert into a script. I just had to add a lot more to it, like more dialogue, and clean up some of the things that were over the top. All the cast fit the characters perfectly. It was crazy seeing them on set and in person. It was like seeing the book in front of me. Ever since I started working on this show, every book I write now I see it as a movie or TV show.
I know you’re actively working to get the show picked up on a major network. If you were able to pick your dream home for the series, what network would that be?
HM: Because of all the sex, and because I don’t want to water it down, I would say Cinemax or HBO. The big part that’s going to hook everybody to this, aside from the storyline, is the sex — that’s our bait. I don’t want to lose that. I want to be able to stick true to the story the way it is. And I want to be able to take people there. If I’m going to do a sex scene, I’m going to take you there. I’ll still leave certain things to your imagination, but I’m going to take you there and make you want more.
The first episode is set to premiere on the 29th, correct?
How many episodes will this first season include and approximately how long will each one last?
HM: It’ll be ten episodes. It’s a web series of course so each episode will be 15-20 minutes. The first episode is 15 minutes. We’re doing an exclusive first look tour soon. We’re going to five cities before the 29th and the cast will be at most of them. People will get a chance to screen it before it hits online.
PHOTO CONTEST: Click here to learn how to win a Skype or FaceTime call with one of the ‘About Him’ leading men.
Keep reading for the latest on the Boyz Next Door franchise