Believe the Hype

Article excerpt

Out TV veterans Terry Sweeney, Lanier Laney, and Scott King--and a few gay writers--give a zippy spin to the WB's outrageous new sketch comedy series

While Hype, a half-hour sketch show debuting on the WB network this fall, may not be specifically gay, it bears a decidedly gay stamp. For starters, its creators and executive producers are Scott King, Lanier Laney, and Terry Sweeney, three of the most prolific gay performers and writers in TV history. And second, the show's writing team boasts celebrated drag performer Jackie Beat.

"The show is pretty gay," says Beat, one of two gay men on the nine-strong writing staff. "A couple of [hetero] guys can write great parodies of SportsCenter, but if you want to make fun of the `Cher Christmas Spectacular,' I'm your man."

Hype has a broad range of targets, poking fun at popular culture and the media frenzy that feeds it. That could be Kevin Spacey's sexuality or just about any show from E! Entertainment Television. "We're kicking things that take themselves too seriously," says Beat.

"We are equal opportunity offenders," explains King, who met Sweeney and Laney on Mad TV in 1997 and created "Intensity," the now-legendary Felicity parody that TV Guide named one of "The 50 Funniest TV Moments of All Time." "There are no sacred cows. All of its elements are post-PC."

Sweeney, who in 1986 spent a season on Saturday Night Live and in doing so became the first openly gay performer on network television, adds that the inspiration for the show came from the spiraling tendency in the media to hype and overinflate. "You can't be a model anymore; you have to be a supermodel," he says. …