John Stamos pops
our cork!

John Stamos pops
            our cork!

John Stamos and I
have a mutual friend who does penis tricks. By “penis
tricks,” I am referring to this particular
acquaintance’s habit of dropping his pants at
parties and forming his privates into various
unexpected and admittedly impressive shapes. “Have
you seen the Hamburger?” Stamos asks me as we
stroll through the sprawl of the Warner Bros. back
lot. I nod, and Stamos immediately shoots me a grin
conveying that thanks to our mutual pal and his
unlikely talent, we’re now friends as well.

For a moment
I’m awed by Stamos’s nonchalance—as if
discussing penis tricks is the most ordinary thing in
the world. But after spending the next hour with him,
his ease doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Here’s the
thing about John Stamos: He’s completely,
refreshingly open-minded, the kind of guy who is
nonjudgmental about things like the public display of
a penis, the kind of guy who has no reservations about
taking on the role of a likable gay rights
activist—despite being an actor best known for
marrying a supermodel and making all the girls (and
boys) swoon.

“John’s incredibly charming,” says Jim
Fall, who directed Stamos in Wedding Wars
[premiering Monday, December 11, at 9 p.m.
Eastern/Pacific], “which makes him the perfect
conduit for the message of this movie.” A
family comedy that manages to tackle the issue of same-sex
marriage with light humor and a deft touch, the A&E
feature stars Stamos as Shel, a wedding planner who
impulsively decides to fight for his own right to
marry after his brother—played by Grey’s
Anatomy
’s “McSteamy,” Eric
Dane—becomes engaged to the daughter of a
conservative governor.

“I
didn’t want to make just another ‘gay’
movie,” explains Fall, whose debut feature was
the gay indie Trick—and who married his
boyfriend on the Wedding Wars set in Halifax, Canada.
“I wanted to make a point and really say
something, but subtly. I wanted to show both sides
without vilifying anyone. I wanted to win people over with
comedy—and who better to help with that than someone
who has been coming into their living rooms for years
now?”

It’s a
savvy strategy. Take Full House’s sweet,
hapless Uncle Jesse and General
Hospital
’s brooding, darkly handsome Blackie,
and combine and transform the popular characters into a
likable, smart, authentic gay man. Because of Stamos,
Middle America will start watching and—fingers
crossed—won’t be able to stop.

Former Full
House
costar Bob Saget, for one, will be watching.
“I love John like he’s the sister I
never had. Truly, he’s one of my best friends
and has always, always been there for me,” Saget
says. As for Stamos taking on such a role, Saget has
no concerns. “He’s such a good actor.
When researching his part for ER, he not only hung
out in a lot of emergency rooms, but he literally
performed four illegal surgeries. The patients
didn’t even mind. They felt safe with him
’cause he was Jesse from Full House. He
did two heart bypasses, one hip replacement, and a
colonoscopy on a man named Gerald.”

Fall says he
never worried whether Stamos would have to “play
gay” in order to be believed: “I
remember in rehearsals he was telling some story with
such enthusiasm and energy, and I said,
‘That’s it—that’s
Shel!’ ” There’s this light inside
of John, and all he had to do was turn it on, and
there was the character.”

That
“light”—a luminescent, infectious
likability—has kept Stamos in the game for over
two decades. It’s carried him through those
teen-dream General Hospital days and the
eternal flame of Full House syndication; seen
him through a “tabloid-perfect” marriage and
subsequent divorce with model-actress Rebecca Romijn;
powered him past the short-lived Jake in
Progress;
and landed him a hot new on-screen life
on ER.

With Wedding
Wars,
Stamos may be adding “gay icon” to
his résumé. “John was always the
first choice for the role,” says producer Neil
Meron. “He’s been one of my best friends for
years, and we were always wondering when we would be
able to work together. This was the perfect
chance.”

That Stamos, the
giddy pretty boy with a heart of gold, would completely
reinvent himself—with parts like Shel and a raunchy
revamp of Cabaret’s Master of
Ceremonies—might come as quite a surprise to
his longtime devotees. One can imagine Full House
fans watching with mouths agape as Uncle Jesse
passionately kisses another man. But this is how the
renowned gay producing team of Craig Zadan and Meron
operate: with a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go
down.

And in the end,
Shel and the emcee aren’t actually that different
from Stamos himself: All are tolerant and exploratory
gentlemen who have seen enough of life not to be
flustered by two men necking or a guy pressing his
penis into something that resembles a hamburger.

I sat down with
Stamos after a day on the set of ER to discuss all the
dirt we have been so curious about.

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