If it ain't "Brokeback," don't fix it …
Just give in, Hollywood seems to be saying.
Indeed, everywhere you go – movies, TV, billboards, Western suburbs – there seem to be two cowguys alternately hugging and pushing each other away. Attention, John Wayne: These pilgrims have arrived on a different ship.
Sure, "Brokeback Mountain" breaks taboos, but is it the straw that can break the back of bias against gays nationally – or just a case of producers gently patting themselves on the backs and then moving on?
Indeed, is it just Hollywood hubris to think a film can thematically affect America?
Here's hoping it can. Indeed, there's no better way to foretell the future and see if Hollywood is on a gay role than to examine the docket of delirium suggested by upcoming production plans.
What with Oscar-mania manifested everywhere, "Movie Mania" was able to get an inside peek at what Movieland is developing for next year. And to his surprise, the sneak peek revealed just how far the "Brokeback Mountain" phenomenon has producers going for broke.
There, amid the tallies of top prospects was a tallis tale … "Catskill Mountain," the heartfelt – and stomach-full – drama of two Jewish comedians who commit to each other over hot plates of herring and kreplach.
Originally titled "Dirty Davening," the film explores how the comics, hired to entertain during an international bingo tournament also scheduled for the mountain resort, find themselves alone and lonely on stage before an empty auditorium as the crowds can be heard yelling from across the hall, ignoring the comedians' entreaties of "Free danish!"
(That was a more innocent time, of course, when it was safe to yell anything about Danish without fear of reprisal.)
Without an audience to keep them occupied, the comics turn to each other.
"I wish that I could just quip you!" snaps comedian Morris.
As they grapple for jokes under a makeshift tent passing for a chupah – left behind from the Weinstein-Weinsteen wedding – the men are forced to confront the stirred up sechel feelings they have for each other.
So close, yet so far from Sheepshead Bay … "Makes sense," says Kevin, the kishke cowboy, of their mutual attraction. "We were both raised on the range."
"Nah," and Morris spits out the pulp from the orange juice he lassoed from the buffet, "my Mom never used the Hotpoint; it was take-out for us every night."
The revealed secret unleashes a sudden passion Kevin had never known. "It's making me … feel … "
"What?" demands Morris.
Sharing yet another meal, the two then roll amid the dirty dishes that were once saturated with the lust of latke-lovers just the night before, grinning through the grime of day-old kasha and bowties. (This incident is forever known, by the way, in Catskill history as "The Oy Bow Incident.")
And so it was, year after year, the boys dropping their careers in the family business, lying to their wives, donning Chaps by Ralph Lauren and notching another encounter in their Borscht Belt.
"So where you going this time, Morris, with that nice Jewish boy from the boondocks?" wonders Sheila of her westward wayward spouse.
"The same. Gefilte-fishin'," comes the hesitant response.
And the postcards would arrive every year, with Morris inviting Kevin for a weekend of unbridled noshing; one from Brown's, another from Grossinger's, yet another with just a picture of the Catskills and Shecky Green waving in the distance.
"Why don't he ever visit here? Why is it always in the Catskills?" complains Sheila.
"Where ya goin' to get good corned beef in this neighborhood!" retorts Morris, a former English teacher who promptly corrects his wife. "And the proper conjugation, by the way, is 'doesn't.' "
And so it goes until Kevin's wife, washing dishes one night, looks straight ahead at the neighbors' duplex out the window, festooned with decorations for Passover and Easter, and slowly comes out with what's on her mind: "You know how much the kids love pastrami," she says, eyes averted from Kevin, "and yet, you never bring home any sandwiches from your trip."
But it was not meant to be. One day, Kevin receives the call he hoped he never would get. "Morris is gone," says the saddened Sheila on the end of the phone.
"He moved out. Bought his own condo."
It was over.
Morris walks out the door, jumps into his 290-horsepower GTO, saddled with the feeling of loneliness that comes with being the Catskills coward he knew he was. He turns on the CD player as it whispers tunes from the Broadway show he and Kev shared a passion for, and slowly, sadly, he rides off into the "Sunrise, Sunset."
And immediately is invited to take part in Oprah's hourlong special devoted to … "Unusual Jewish Cowpokes.