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Out of the Closet With "Desperate Housewives"

Out of the Closet With "Desperate Housewives"
11th Annual SAG AwardsFelicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria

A few months after she faced erroneous international reports that she was coming out as a lesbian, Desperate Housewives actress Marcia Cross attended a closing night panel of the Los Angeles gay and lesbian film festival Outfest to talk openly about how she reacted to those rumors and the upcoming season of the hit show, which has just earned 15 Emmy nominations.

Cross--who earned her first Emmy nomination for her role as the uptight Bree Van De Kamp-was joined at the Directors Guild of America building in Hollywood by some of the gay men involved with the show, including creator Marc Cherry, co-executive producer John Pardee and story editor Joshua Senter, as well as lesbian writer Katie Ford. Actors Ryan Carnes-who plays the gay gardener Justin-and Shawn Pyfrom-Bree's son Andrew, who had a kissing scene last season with Justin-also attended the panel discussion, which was titled "Queer is Just a Frame of Mind on Wisteria Lane."

When reports first came out that Cross was a lesbian, based on a faulty blog posting, the actress said she called her alleged girlfriend and laughed about it. "In 24 hours it was around the world that I was a lesbian and I didn't care," Cross said. Then, she was shocked when Barbara Walters asked her to talk about it on The View, insisting it was news.

"There I was telling the world I was just happy," Cross said. "I will tell you after it happened I was angry because first: it's nobody's business; and second: it's a not a question that you can easily answer on national television; and third: is this what is important in international news today? Aren't there more important things going on? I was angry, especially because what if I was? How dare anybody decide when and what I do in privacy of my life?"

Speaking of privacy, the plotlines of the hit show are carefully guarded, but last season Cherry noted that within two hours of completing some of their scripts "it was on the Internet and people were reading about it in Outer Mongolia." He said they tracked down the leak to someone sending the script for closed captioning for the deaf, and the person was escorted off the studio lot. This season, however, Cherry did reveal a few secrets, including that the season is going to be darker and odder than the first season -- revealing a few thing that even surprised the actors.

"We will get really, really dark," Cherry said, speaking more to his actors on the panel. "Shawn [as Andrew] has been working out this summer so we're going to have that shirt off a few times this season. We've seen the vulnerable gay guy so much on TV [in other shows] and I thought 'Let's make him a sociopath' and Shawn does sociopath so very well."

Asked about the budding relationship between Andrew and the gardener, Cherry said, "I didn't plan on bringing a gay character like this so quickly on the show and Andrew sure has this weird sociopathic bisexual thing going on and I can tell you that he will use his sexuality in horrible, horrible ways. It's so horrific! He will mess with his mom so bad this year," said the show's creator, turning to Cross and adding "Sorry, sweetie."

The show's writing staff is about half gay, and Ford quips, "We think one guy is bi-curious, but I won't reveal his name." Cherry said he doesn't care about the sexuality of the writers and said, "Just because you're gay and lesbian doesn't make you a good writer, and I know some of you aren't. You can always go write for Scrubs. "

Cherry said he's not surprised about the gay following the show has, saying "Any time you have four or five really strong women doing desperately dastardly things, gay men seem to get a thrill out of it. And the moment you put a woman in an evening gown mowing the lawn, that's gay."

But Cherry said, "The real news is that we have a big following with straight men, too, I think that's the headline."

Cross laughed about how much people love her rather vicious Martha Stewart-like character, saying, "I feel a great responsibility and an honor and I want everyone to know that in London they think Bree is sexy. Those British!"

Her role is modeled after Cherry's real-life mother, and so when he came out as gay to his mom when he turned 31, and his mother answered, "I'd love you even if you were a murderer," he said, "I put that in Marcia's mouth." He also put a few other words in her mouth early in the show until TV censors started paying attention.

"I got to say 'scrotum,' 'ejaculation' and 'erection,'" Cross laughed.

Network censors clamped down on the show, Cherry said, after the Nicolette Sheridan towel-dropping episode during a promo for ABC's Monday Night Football, but they didn't try to stop the male-male kiss between Justin and Andrew. "We just had to show that they were wearing bathing suits when they were in the pool," Cherry said.

Meanwhile, Cherry scratches his head about being asked whether there is some magic formula for creating a hit show.

"I don't know, we were all unemployed 40-year-olds on a year-and-a-half ago," Cherry said. "It's baffling." And, as far as writing the show, "It's kind of like sausage, if you found out how it was made, you'd be appalled."

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