Anorak News | What Is Outing ‘Gay’ Merv Griffith With Dignity?

What Is Outing ‘Gay’ Merv Griffith With Dignity?

by | 18th, August 2007

TABLOID Baby looks at the Merv Griffith, Griffin created the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” game shows. I once wrote the questions for Jeopardy (What is the giong rate?)

“Merv Griffin was gay.”

So says Ray Richmond, entertainment columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, in a controversial “outing” that in four words sticks it to the TMZ-type bottomfeeders before they have a chance to make the great man into a joke. They’re four words that are causing debate around the world this morning. But coming from Ray Richmond, they’re not sensational, not titillating. Just the decent thing to say.

Ray is no Michelangelo Signorile, who in decades past outed powerful closet cases as a way of stirring up gay pride and exposing hypocrisy.

He’s one of the most straight-talking, hard-hitting, no-BS, Pulitzer-worthy journos in the business, an incisive voice of deceny with a reputation as a conscience of the industry.

He also knew Merv well, having worked as a talent coordinator and segment producer on The Merv Griffin Show in the 1980s. “Around the office, the boss’s being gay was merely a fact of life, understood but rarely discussed (and certainly never with him),” Ray writes matter-of-factly on his essential Past Deadline site in a post titled “Griffin never revealed the man behind the curtain” (nice Wizard of Oz imagery, by the way).

“As it was, I loved the guy,” Ray adds. But not in that way!

“No gossip, no scandal, no snickering behind the back. Just reality. Why should that be so uncomfortable to contemplate? Why is it so difficult to write? Why are we still so jittery even about raising the issue in purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood, in 2007?

“We can refer to it casually in conversation without a second thought, but the mainstream media still somehow remains trapped in the Dark Ages as relates to the gay label. Even in the capital of entertainment– in a business where homosexuality isn’t exactly a rare phenomenon– it’s still spoken of in hushed tones or, more often, not at all.

“Maybe that helps explain why Griffin, who died Sunday at 82 from prostate cancer, stayed inside the closet throughout his life. Perhaps he figured it was preferable to remain the object of rumor and smug ridicule rather than live openly as ‘one of them.’ But how tremendously sad that a man of Merv’s considerable gifts, of his gregarious nature and social dexterity, would feel compelled to endure such a stealthy double-life even as the gay community’s clout, and its levels of acceptance and equality, rose steadily from the ashes of ignorance…”

We’ve been telling you about Ray Richmond. This article shows why he’s so important.

Posted: 18th, August 2007 | In: Reviews Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink