Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

MEDIA: Producer Paris Barclay:
by MARIE-JO PROULX
2004-05-01

This article shared 8357 times since Sat May 1, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Emmy Award-winning producer Paris Barclay recently spoke at the Hot House as part of Columbia College Chicago's Black Images On Screen festival. While he was billed as a 'gay-identifying' artist, the presentation focused on the business and creative aspects of his trade. The format was part talk, part video, and showcased excerpts from his best work.

Barclay, a native of Chicago's Harvey suburb, started out composing music but became interested in theater when he attended Harvard as an English major. He then moved to New York where he meshed both interests by writing a couple of musicals. Name recognition and financial success remained elusive.

It was his day job in advertising that provided the big break. In 1986 he wrote a public service announcement for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. It starred none other than Elizabeth Taylor and Barclay got to direct it himself after the high-profile director who was scheduled to do it refused to fly to Los Angeles unless given a first-class ticket. All involved in the project were donating their time, so Taylor herself apparently wasted no time firing him. The 30-second spot took a full day to shoot and aired only once on ABC. The network received so many letters and calls of complaint that it decided to can it. 'That's just the way the world was in 1986,' Barclay reminded the mostly young students in attendance.

A few years later, a white friend of his who had connections in the music industry suggested they join their efforts to create a production company. They called it Black & White Television and their main objective was to get more minorities involved in the business. Barclay said there were 'so many rap artists and music video people out there [that were] not using diverse casts.' After racking up $35,000 of debt in their first year they got a surprise call from LL Cool J who needed a director for his video Big Ol' Butt.

This marked the beginning of a three-year relationship that saw Barclay direct a total of eight clips, including Mamma Said Knock You Out, which won Best Rap Video at the MTV Awards. It is generally agreed that the simplicity of the staging (LL Cool J alone in a dimly lit boxing ring) is what set it apart from all the others in the category. At the time choreographed dance numbers ruled the genre.

It is probably this aura of originality that led to an offer to direct Angel Street, a new series produced by John Wells. Starring Robin Givens as a detective, it was shot here in Chicago. Barclay was excited to be working in his home town, but only six episodes were produced and the series never made it beyond the pilot stage. He recalled with a laugh that he thought he had personally killed the show and even feared his career would never recover. But Wells went on to do ER and asked Barclay to direct a number of episodes.

Luck smiled at him again when Mark Tinker, one of the producers of NYPD Blue, came looking for a director and gave him the job without having seen any of his work. Over the next three years, Barclay directed 13 episodes, including the hugely popular one where Jimmy Smits's character dies, which won him an Emmy. The final scene lasts almost 10 minutes and Barclay put it up on the giant screen. By the time the lights came on again, you could hear sniffles from all corners of the room. Barclay was emotional, his voice breaking as he began to explain some of the details that went into the making of the scene. He eventually won another Emmy before moving on to create a show called City of Angels with Steven Bochco.

While this new venture only lasted two seasons, it had the merit of being the first Black drama series on mainstream television. 'We tried to do something different,' Barclay said. 'We tried to have a diversified crew, an African-American cast in a drama and for whatever reasons the audience wasn't ready for it, or we weren't up to the game. The show was cancelled.' He has since worked on other popular series such as The West Wing, The Shield, and Cold Case.

Along with the admirable successes there have also been some projects that required a certain dose of compromise. Accepting a contract to produce short clips for a major tobacco company was one of those decisions he reluctantly had to make to be able to pay his bills. Directing a video for New Kids On the Block also proved problematic when the members of the boy band were not speaking to each other and some of them had not seen the lyrics of the song before the day of the taping. But their manager wanted Barclay to 'make them black' so he obliged by surrounding them with multi-ethnic dancers and putting the lead singer in a Malcolm X jacket. 'That was blatant ... I mean it's just an embarrassment,' he admitted with a chuckle. Another accomplishment he cringes about is the 1996 movie Don't Be a Menace to South Central. Although it was meant as a parody, it didn't exactly contribute to the breaking down of negative racial stereotypes.

Barclay had been invited by Columbia's Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Film and Video so he gave the fledgling media students some technical pointers. He gave a lot of credit to editors, saying they are the ones who give life to a piece when their cutting finds the perfect rhythm. Always generous with his praise, writers were next on his list of artists who make directors like him look smart. He even added that he plans to retire soon from producing and directing so he can explore the challenges of writing.

As far as practical career advice goes, Barclay had one overarching message: don't wait to be discovered. Getting a job on a movie set may sound like a good idea, but few people get noticed for bringing coffee or arranging chairs. 'What I advocate now is to make films,' he instructed. Digital technology is becoming affordable, which gives people a chance to impress with original short films. He mentioned that nudity, humor, and in some cases extreme violence were effective hooks. 'It has to be a movie that if I get it, I need to play it for somebody else. It has to be that good.'

In his years in advertising, the music industry, and TV, Barclay has relied on a combination of talent, determination, networking, and some good fortune. But more than anything, he believed in using each particular experience as a way to learn new skills and get better.

'Through the whole thing I saw every opportunity as an education,' he said.


This article shared 8357 times since Sat May 1, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER Dot-Marie Jones talks Goodman production, 'Glee,' 'Bros' 2024-02-12
- Running through Feb. 18 at the the Goodman Theatre, the production Highway Patrol works with a script conceived entirely from Emmy-winning actor Dana Delany's (TV's China Beach) digital archive of hundreds of tweets and direct messages ...


Gay News

GLAAD finds missed chances for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Super Bowl ads 2024-02-12
--From a press release - Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 — GLAAD is reacting to a lack of LGBTQ storytelling in ads that aired duringSuper Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 and is reminding brands, corporations and advertising agencies why including the LGBTQ ...


Gay News

SAVOR 'The Bear,' new pizza lounge, Chicago Black Restaurant Week 2024-02-11
- "Bear" necessities: The third season of the Chicago-set series The Bear will debut in June, per Variety. FX chairman John Landgraf made the announcement during the network's presentation at the Television Critics Association's winter 2024 press ...


Gay News

Quantum Leap reboot springs into LGBTQ+ representation 2024-02-09
- Through the magic of television, Quantum Leap is once again jumping into the past to bounce back into the future—and in a recent episode, "The Family Trasure," non-binary artist and performer Wilder Yuri and writer Shakina ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Raven-Symone, women's sports, Wayne Brady, Jinkx Monsoon, British Vogue 2024-02-09
- In celebration of Black History Month, the LA LGBT Center announced that lesbian entertainer Raven-Symone will be presented with the Center's Bayard Rustin Award at its new event, Highly Favored, per a press release. She joins ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Tom Holland, Bowen Yang, Pet Shop Boys, Mariah Carey 2024-02-02
- In the wake of Nigel Lythgoe exiting So You Think You Can Dance, queer personality JoJo Siwa is returning to the series, per Deadline. Siwa, who was a judge on season 17 of the Fox show, will replace Lythgoe, who left ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sundance items, Green Day, 'Wednesday,' Queerties, 'The Wiz' 2024-01-26
- At the Sundance Film Festival, Jodie Foster told Variety that the $1.4-billion success of Barbie helps confirm that Hollywood no longer views women directors as too much of a risk. She said, "With a big success ...


Gay News

GLAAD announces nominees for the 35th annual GLAAD Media Awards 2024-01-21
--From a press release - Following its acceptance of the iconic Governors Award at the 2023 Emmys Ceremony presented by the Television Academy, GLAAD announced the nominees for the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for ...


Gay News

EMMYS RuPaul, Niecy Nash-Betts win; Elton's EGOT status; GLAAD's award 2024-01-16
- Succession, The Bear and Beef dominated the 2024 Emmys, held Jan. 16. The ceremony was televised on Fox. Succession was named best drama series, The Bear was named best comedy series and Beef was named best ...


Gay News

GLAAD holds reception ahead of Emmys honor 2024-01-11
- On Jan. 10, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and Kathy Hilton hosted a pre-event cocktail reception celebrating The Future of Representation ahead of GLAAD's historic Governors Award Emmy honor at Hilton's private L.A. residence. ...


Gay News

Few LGBTQ+ individuals score Golden Globes wins 2024-01-08
- The Golden Globes took place Jan. 7—but, for the LGBTQ+ community, there wasn't much to cheer about. For example, queer actors Andrew Scott (All of Us Strangers) and Colman Domingo (Rustin) fell short, as Cillian Murphy ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Indigo Girls, best songs, queer 'Nutcracker,' Colman Domingo, 'Gilded Age' 2023-12-29
- Following appearances at multiple film festivals, the documentary Indigo Girls: It's Only Life After All is getting a theatrical release next spring, The Advocate noted. Directed by Alexandria Bombach, the film dives into the four decades ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Streisand, Kristen Stewart, James Baldwin, Cher, 'Relighting' 2023-12-22
Video below - Barbra Streisand will be honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, TheWrap noted. The honor will be seen live at the 2024 SAG Awards, which will take place at the Shrine ...


Gay News

Bradley Cooper conducts a symphony of queer history in Maestro 2023-12-13
- Composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein was one of the most important musicians of his time, receiving many accolades—the Kennedy Center Honor among them, in 1981—before passing away in 1990. Behind the scenes ...


Gay News

'Barbie,' 'Succession,' LGBTQs receive Golden Globe nods 2023-12-11
- WarnerBrothers' Barbie (with nine nods) and Universal's Oppenheimer (with eight) led film nominations for the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards that were announced Dec. 11, while TV's leaders included HBO's ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.