Prominent Entertainers Jane Lynch, Jordan Peele Star in 'Epic Church-State Breakup' Video to Promote Americans United

By Brown, Simon | Church & State, July-August 2013 | Go to article overview

Prominent Entertainers Jane Lynch, Jordan Peele Star in 'Epic Church-State Breakup' Video to Promote Americans United


Brown, Simon, Church & State


Doves seem to love actress Jane Lynch.

While filming a special promotional video for Americans United in Los Angeles in April, comedian Jordan Peele and magician Joel Ward released three doves that were supposed to distract Lynch. Two of them flew in her vicinity then flitted away, but one of those doves decided to perch on Lynch's wigged head, something that was not in the script.

"Joel went to get the dove, but [video director] Jill Soloway said: 'Leave it!'" Sarah Stevenson, an AU staffer who worked on the shoot, told Church & State.

"Then Jill decided to put a dove on Jordan's head, too," Stevenson added. "It was pretty funny."

The doves ultimately stayed in the picture, and the rest was Internet history.

On May 30, Americans United released "Jane Lynch and Jordan Peele: Epic Church-State Breakup." The video went viral, generating 100,000 views across the Web and dozens of blog posts within days of its debut.

The video features Peele, of Comedy Central's Key and Peele, and Lynch, star of Fox's Glee, Christopher Guest films and the revival of the Broadway hit Annie. The comedic and somewhat edgy plot revolves around a much-needed "breakup" between "church" (played by Lynch) and "state" (played by Peele). It featured a '70s vibe and an original song written exclusively for the video.

The goals of the project are simple: to spread Americans United's message to new audiences, especially young people, while also building an awareness of the organization in the arts and entertainment community.

The idea for a promotional video was conceived by Boston-area singer-songwriter Catie Curtis, who wanted to draw attention to Americans United in advance of a second "Voices United" concert series, which will be held in September. (Curtis, who has a dozen albums on her resume, last year produced the first Voices United, which featured house concerts and live events in all 50 states.)

In thinking up ways to promote the second concert event, Curtis reached out to Faith Soloway, a Boston-area folk-rock musician and comedian. Soloway had teamed up with Curtis before and agreed to write a song, which Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn quickly okayed. (He is a fan of both women's work.)

Stevenson said the video was originally intended to be a "smaller initiative," but it quickly grew thanks to serious star power. Soloway and her sister, Jill, whose credits include writing for and co-producing the HBO series Six Feet Under as well as writing for ABC's Grey's Anatomy, knew Lynch from an early '90s theatrical show they did together called The Real Live Brady Bunch, which spoofed the '70s television classic. (Lynch played Carol Brady.)

Faith wrote a song with Lynch in mind, and when she showed it to Jill and Lynch, they were both instant fans. Lynch then reached out to Peele, who is a very strong singer in addition to playing comedy roles.

With all those pieces in place, AU's Lynn was only too happy to say "yes" to the endeavor.

"I knew this was going to be something great," he said.

Filming began on April 13, with an early-morning casting call. Peele dressed as a '70s glam Uncle Sam with a blue suit, sequined American flag belt buckle and an afro in place of a top hat. Lynch was decked out in a flowing ankle-length white gown, white heels and curly, platinum-blonde wig. She also had crosses painted on her nails, and both she and Peele used skinny microphones a la Bob Barker on The Price Is Right.

After hair, makeup and other preparations were complete, filming got under way at 1 p.m. It took about three hours, and it was shot in individual segments from multiple angles with three different cameras. Production included intervention by Ward's previously mentioned doves, which the magician has owned and trained for more than 20 years.

As for the song itself, it's a soulful ballad that starts out with Peele struggling to break up with Lynch. …

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