The co-creator of a television series that’s been touted as a gay take on “The Golden Girls” says his show has been shut out by Hollywood.
In June, screenwriter Stan Zimmerman revealed on Instagram that a table reading of “Silver Foxes,” about four older gay men who live together in Palm Springs, California, had taken place at his Los Angeles home last year. The 2016 cast included George Takei, Leslie Jordan, Bruce Vilanch and Todd Sherry as the central foursome. Zimmerman and screenwriting partner James Berg had also reportedly written a cameo for original “Golden Girls” star Betty White.
Zimmerman and Berg were co-writers on a number of classic “Golden Girls” episodes, including “Blanche and the Younger Man,” in which Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) unsuccessfully tried to seduce an aerobics instructor. The pair have said that “Silver Foxes” isn’t intended as a formal remake of “The Golden Girls,” but is simply “inspired by” that classic NBC sitcom, which ran from 1985 through 1992.
Though his June 12 Instagram post generated significant buzz, Zimmerman says he’s struggling to get “Silver Foxes” picked up by a major network. The writer, whose credits also include the screenplay to “A Very Brady Sequel” as well as episodes of “Roseanne” and “The Gilmore Girls,” feels deep-seated prejudice about the idea of older gay men leading a sitcom are to blame for the roadblock.
“In all my years in television, I’ve never seen a script reading get so much attention. I think this proves that there’s a great interest in seeing a sitcom like ours come to life,” Zimmerman told HuffPost. “Ageism and homophobia are not only keeping the show from getting picked up, but from even being read by a major network.”
The topics that “Silver Foxes” will explore are particularly relevant to modern audiences given America’s political climate, Zimmerman said. The show, he added, “has much to offer the world, especially after a week where we had a president tweeting a trans ban in the army and our own government arguing in court against basic rights for LGBTQ people in housing and employment.”
Takei acknowledged his frustrations over the delay in bringing “Silver Foxes” to the small screen, and compared the thus-far-unseen series not to “The Golden Girls,” but rather “Star Trek,” for what he described as the show’s “commentary on contemporary life.”
“Homophobia and ageism are currently problems for a significant part of our population,” Takei told HuffPost. “Television producers still seem reluctant to explore these issues head on with humor and humanity.”
But all hope for “Silver Foxes” isn’t lost. Zimmerman believes that interest in the show from fans, many of whom were weaned on “The Golden Girls” either in its original run or in syndication, could convince a streaming service like Hulu, Amazon or Netflix to green-light the series.
“Hollywood should give ‘Silver Foxes’ a chance because it’s important to hear the voices of older LGBTQ people, a segment of our community that is often overlooked. Like ‘The Golden Girls,’ we think audiences of all ages will respond to their wit and wisdom,” he said. “Through social media, we have power.”