Home / CULTURE / Q&A with Old Dogs & New Tricks’  Leon Acord on Marriage Equality 

Q&A with Old Dogs & New Tricks’  Leon Acord on Marriage Equality 

Leon Acord Photo: Lisa Keating

Leon Acord Photo: Lisa Keating

Actor Asks “Where Were YOU When the Rights Went ON?” in New ODNT Special Celebrating Last Year’s Supreme Court Decision 

Long-running digital TV series Old Dogs & New Tricks is about to celebrate a birthday!  The Pilot of the comedy about four middle-aged gay bests in WeHo debuted five years ago this summer, on July 30, 2011.

But the show  is celebrating a different milestone — the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality — with a new thirty-minute “mini-movie special” set on June 26, 2015, entitled “Where Where YOU When the Rights Went ON?” debuting Sat. June 25 at www.odnt.tv. (Watch the trailer at https://youtu.be/hhGWBuJl3a!) 

Similar to the show’s Halloween-themed “WeHo Horror Story,” a 23-minute special which preluded its third season, “Where Were YOU…” will answer the show’s season-ending cliffhangers (Did Ross survive his heart attack? Does Brad get the TV gig? Will Muscles move to Ohio? Has Nathan sworn off men?) while also showing the Dogs (Leon Acord,David Pevsner, Curt Bonnem, Jeffrey Patrick Olson) hearing and reacting to the news of the Supreme Court’s decision, and setting up stories for the coming season.

We talked with Acord, who’s also the show’s creator and writer, about what to expect, and why he thinks its a more important gay event than Stonewall.

Why a special about marriage equality, a year after the fact?

Oh, many reasons!  This is the most single important event in gay history since Stonewall. Even more so, I think. While Stonewall inspired us to fight and led to what we now know as Pride Month, June 26 is really when all that fighting and protest, was solidified into actual law. How fabulous that the decision came at the end of June? So its hugely important.  Did I sound like Donald Trump just then?

We’re a gay show, predominantly about the love lives of four gay men. We had to address this!  How can a gay show not?  I wish we could’ve done it shortly after the decision. But the fact we’re doing it on the anniversary, as an flashback, gives it a resonance.

Why do you think the decision so important?

Because its about equality on the ultimate level.  Despite all the petty bathroom and religious-freedom laws in some states, this is, in many ways, the last hurdle, on a federal level.  It comes with the benefits, such as filing joint returns, having hospital visitation and other automatic rights that straight couples take for granted.

But on another level: The gay community has been accused often of “not growing up.”  Hell, I made a web series about that very premise, of middle-aged gay men who still act like twenty-somethings.  For straight people, the road to adulthood, to their future, has signs along the way. College. Courting. Settle down. Marriage. Children. Buy a home. Not every straight follows all those road signs. Nor should they. But other than college, LGBT, at least of my generation, never had any signs through adulthood, beyond college. Some of us opted to adopt, or established rights with partners with power-of-attorney, living wills and the like. But they were the exception. Most of us were just out there, post-college, living life as if nothing has changed.

Having said that, I certainly hope we don’t become as neurotic about marriage as many straight people are. “Oh god, I’m 30 and not married!! Life is over!” Hopefully, we will embrace all our options.

You were already editing the special when the horrific tragedy in Orlando occurred. Did you consider postponing or canceling?

I did, in fact. But as strong as I wanted to honor the victims, I felt just as strongly that if we let terrorists kill our humor, we’re dead. Gay men have always used humor in the face of diversity. After some soul-searching, we decided not to let terror win, and move forward. We can’t not honor our victories, even if we honor them while mourning our fallen.

We are dedicating the special to victims of anti-LGBT violence worldwide with a final card in the end credits.

What happens in the special? Come on, its just us!

It’s set on the morning of Obama’s speech. You’ll pretty quickly get answers to all the cliffhangers. All of our regulars are back, along with some of our favorite guest stars, like Rutanya Alda as Barbara, Kathryn Leigh Scott as Muscles’ Mom, and Bruce L. Hart as evil Nelson Van Eddy. Jeremy Bright is also back as Nathan’s clueless intern. Plus new faces, like J. Teddy Garces andBrian Nolan.

We also reference a lot of boyfriends past, with winks to Bobby Burton, played by Thom Bierdz, Dirk played by Greg Louganis, Lucas and Marshall, Damian, Jake Tyler, and more.

We’re a little more political in the special than the series.  In addition to the Supreme Court decision, we wink at other ills going on — racism, extremism, even Donald Trump. I grew up on the topical TV comedies of Norman Lear, so I was thrilled!

Its been over a year since season three ended.  Why so long between then and now?

Several reasons. First, our cast works all the time. Finding a stretch of time where everyone is available is quite difficult.  And writing the show seems to take longer each season, as we try to top ourselves each time, and offer a bit more to the viewer each season.

But the main reason is, the show just costs more now than it used to. For many reasons.

The $10,000 we raised on IndieGoGo, which I hoped could pay for at least three or four episodes, was just enough to pay for the new special. So we thought we better produce at least that, and get it out for our viewers, while we try to figure out how to raise enough bucks for a full season. Particularly with season four, the main reason has been money.  The cost of production has risen substantially.  So we have a new campaign on GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/odnts4). But its going to be a long haul to raise the money!

Why is it more expensive to produce the show now?

I was asking that question myself, when my producers came back to me with the cost of a fourth season!  “When did we become Dynasty?”

We had a lot of free locations and services in our first two seasons that we don’t have now. People are more likely to give you things for free if they’ve never heard of you! We set a high bar for ourselves from the get go, and want to maintain that!

But also, just the actual cost of creating the show is higher now. The truth is, when the show first started in late 2010, the economy was in the toilet and production in Los Angeles was in a slump. But now, production here is booming, and technicians who then we’re just looking to work to stay busy now have a plethora of well-paying jobs to keep busy. We are very grateful to have such a loyal crew and amazing cast.

Congrats on the show’s upcoming fifth birthday! Can you believe its lasted so long?

Thank you! I’m a realist, but there was a part of me that felt, with the right care and feeding, this show could have legs!

FInally, where were YOU  on June 26, when “the rights went on”?

I was in San Francisco with my husband Laurence. He woke me up that morning, saying “We won!” It was amazing. I’m so glad we were in that City when it happened. We immediately walked to the Castro and just soaked in the sense of victory.

“Where Were You When the Rights Went On” debuts Sat. June 25 at the show’s website, www.odnt.tv.  Watch the trailer at https://youtu.be/lgwn0aqGj9A  And donate to the fourth and final season at https://www.gofundme.com/odnts4

 

Photo 2

The cast of Old Dogs & New Tricks return in “Where Were YOU When the Rights Went ON?”

Photo 3

Leon Acord returns as Nathan Adler in ODNT‘s  “Where Were YOU When the Rights Went ON?”

Photo 4

Nathan & Nelson (Bruce L. Hart) woe football player-turned-actor Mountain Ramirez (J. Teddy Garces) in ODNT‘s  “Where Were YOU When the Rights Went ON?”