HOLLYWOOD: ABC Television is to slot into its schedules between the sponsorship commercials a made-for-television special movie about gay love, which its co-writer/producer says would have been unthinkable a year ago.
Short, bearded, William Link was talking about ‘That Certain Summer’, a TV special about a man, his former wife, their son and the husband’s gay lover.
His partner, the taller and slightly less hirsute Richard Levinson said: “We thought there would be no market for this in television, and, to our surprise, there was. Everyone accused television of being bland, but this is an adult theme.”
Levinson and Link have not tried to give their opinions about gay love, or to make a propaganda vehicle. They say they have just tried to explore the relationships of the people involved as people.
The idea for the script came when the partners were visiting a divorced man who told them his son was coming to visit. It dawned on our intrepid pen-pushers that this man was gay, living with another man. It also dawned on them that they were looking at the raw material of a television script.
The TV-special concentrates on the husband’s attempts to hide his being gay from his friends and the son’s discovery of it.
Levinson says: “No-one is the villain. The man has to live his life the way he has to. But if he does he hurts his son. If he doesn’t, he hurts himself. Each has his moments when he is not nice, they all have their fallibilities.
When they were writing the script Levinson and Link talked to psychiatrists and gays about gay love. “I think the homosexuals were more concerned with the image portrayed than in good drama.”
One of the criticisms levelled at Levinson and Link while they were canvassing opinions was that they offered no solution. Levinson defends the TV movie: “How can we offer a solution? The population can’t even agree on what homosexuality is.”
The actors, both unknown, chosen to play the parts of the father and son had no fears about playing gays.
Link says: “I asked one if he would take the part. He said he would be terrified of playing a homosexual. I asked him if he would play Hitler. He said ‘sure’.”
Levinson adds: “The odd thing was, once we got started we forgot about the homosexual implication and got involved in the production.”