Gay TV Scribes Prove Life Really Is Golden 

Since sharpening their comedic teeth on shows like The Golden Girls and Roseanne, Stan Zimmerman and Jim Berg have gone on to long, successful careers in Hollywood. But this season their dream of finally creating their own sitcom came true thanks to Mad TV's Nicole Sullivan, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and a little show called Rita Rocks.



Berg: He got the executive producer, but I got
the hotter writers -- so it all worked out.

How has it felt to see Golden Girls evolve from
this coded gay television series to the point
where it’s become almost iconic in gay
culture -- where gay men have become associated
with its legacy?

Zimmerman: It’s pretty exciting when I go out
to [West Hollywood hipster gay bar] the Abbey or
something and I see the age range of people that watch
Golden Girls: young guys who come up to me
and recite lines and it’s like, “You
weren’t even born when this show came out!” It
still touches people of all ages, from little kids to,
you know, old ladies, obviously.

Berg: The gay community loves divas, especially
when they say something particularly funny.

Zimmerman: And sexual.

Berg: They love hearing them talk dirty.

Can we look forward to any queer characters or
story lines on Rita Rocks?

Zimmerman: Well…

Berg: It’s interesting you should ask that!

Zimmerman: I don’t know if I should say --
we’re in discussions.

Berg: Oh, what could happen?

Zimmerman: Carson Kressley has his show on
Lifetime [How to Look Good Naked], so Nicole
and Carson filmed these little spots that are going to run
during Christmas called “Fa La La
Lifetime.” They had such a great connection
that Carson told me, “I want to be on Rita
!” So we thought, “Hmm, this could be
really fun!” Whether she works with him at Bed
& Bath Max, which could be really funny -- or
maybe, in the past, Rita and Carson were high school prom

Berg: We also want to work some lesbian mom
stories into the show -- maybe one of Shannon’s
friends has two mommies.

Zimmerman: In the writing our gay sensibility
is already there, so of course we would also like to cast
characters that also are gay. We’ve even talked with
the people who use the extras for our show, and when
we’re at Bed & Bath Max, we’ll have
two men or two women shopping together, or in a coffee shop
scene, why can't there be two guys sitting there

Berg: We let it seep into people’s
consciousness in the background -- without them even

Zimmerman: And also hit them over the head with

It’s almost like your careers have come full
circle with Rita Rocks, as it’s replaced
one of the Golden Girls time slots on
Lifetime’s schedule.

Zimmerman: I’ve had so many full-circle
moments in my career -- being a lover of The Brady
as a child, and then all of a sudden there we
were, [re]writing The Brady Bunch Movie and
being in the Bradys’ house! It’s been
really, really interesting. As a child I was a big fan
of Lily Tomlin, so we wrote this movie with her in mind. We
got it to her in another one of our schemes, and suddenly
there we were having dinner with her, and she wanted
to do our movie! It’s been quite awhile since
that meeting, but we’ve actually decided to turn it
into a Broadway musical.

Berg: We never let things die.

Zimmerman: We got the script to Cyndi Lauper,
and she’s agreed to write the music and lyrics to do
a Broadway version of this feature film we’d
written for Lily Tomlin years ago.

Berg: It’s about a housewife in 1969--

Zimmerman: It’s called The Ruthie Ruddick

Berg: And she goes to Greenwich Village to save
her sister from being a hippie, and she inadvertently
becomes the catalyst for the gay rights movement, the
civil rights movement, and the women’s

Sounds like an epic adventure!

Zimmerman: It is epic -- in a comedy way. And
the climax of the movie takes place at the Stonewall Riots,
which she inadvertently started. It’s really
funny, and it’s about an underdog woman, which
is kind of our forte. Her character is very closed-minded,
and she ends up opening her mind and her heart to other

Berg: Maybe in our next conversation we’ll
be talking about that full circle.

Zimmerman: Wouldn’t that be nice? We’ll
be sitting here with Cyndi Lauper on Broadway--

Berg: It will happen.

Zimmerman: It’ll happen. Let’s affirm
it. We’re Oprah-ing it!

Rita Rocks
airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on Lifetime.

Tags: television