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Q) Tyler, could you talk a little bit about what about the role resonated an interested you.
Tyler: I mean, as an actor you sadly read a lot of crap out there and certainly these days.... When I read the script for this initially, itís always refreshing to read something that is actually in general, you know, the writing as well is well crafted. But then on top of that, to read something that is actually, you know, fun and can be fun and silly but itís trying to say something, kind of like, you know, a spoonful of sugar for the masses. And I think that this episode did that with the issue of gay men not being able to donate sperm. Originally when I read it I thought that they made it up because it seemed like such a silly rule. But then in going - reading more about the part and getting to know the creators and producers and things like it and did a little homework of my own then I in turn found out that it is in fact absolutely true. And the more I read, the more silly the whole concept of the ban got and that idea, you know, because I originally thought that it was going to be an old law like, you know, homosexual men not being able to donate blood, which was passed, like in 1982. The FDA did it when there was, you know, a massive HIV scare and it was, you know, predominantly, you know, homosexual men were carriers and so they - everybody was nervous and nobody knew how to do anything. Whereas this law was passed in 2005, which at that point, we had multiple tests, you know, to - that weíre able to present and screen HIV from, you know, any potential carriers or donators. So, really, the more I read about it the more I just thought that it was kind of - itís hard to explain the scientific reasoning behind it and seemed more, I donít know, vindictive is a harsh word. But just seemed very - like a very negative and biased law that actually, you know, had no reason or place in the modern day. And so, I immediately, you know, wanted to, you know, commend both of these guys and do this role. And I thought, you know, I could play - I could be this man pretty easily just on the idea that, you know, not know that this is a law and being kind of shocked by the whole process. And has he goes along - the character goes along just kind of being flabbergasted by the fact that we still have these types of laws on the books.
Q) Well, then what challenged you about being Dan?
Tyler: What challenged me about being Dan? I think the - not - I mean, not a lot. To be honest, it was a really easy character. You know, sometimes as an actor you find it hard to get yourself into the mind of a character and to kind of become this person. But for this specific character, it was rally easy to get into his mindset of wanting to help people and he - you know, he happened - and the idea that he happens to be a gay man. And you donít even, you know, really find that out until later I the episode, obviously, that cat may be out of the bag now. But, I just thought it was really easy to play a normal guy who happens to be gay and happens to have this law kind of happen to him. And I think, because I know, you know, I have plenty of people that I work with, co-workers and friends who are gay and thereís not - thereís less and less, you know, the stereotype of this, you know, flamboyant, a feminine homosexual man. And itís much more, I think, everyday guys who just - thatís the way, you know, for whatever I donít, you know, I donít know that - I donít know if any of us know the details of the genetics or the -- that weíre hearing or multiple reason why. But they are gay and itís not - itís just who they are and itís their sexual preference. And thereís no reason to - I donít know - thereís no - it just - it was just really easy for me to step into this average guy dealing with these ridiculous laws. So the whole - I mean, itís just very normal. So his sexual preference is really - to me as an actor, I mean, itís kind of secondary as far as the story goes just because, I mean, itís a very important part of the story. But, I think that too many times everybody gets, you know, hung up on peopleís sexual preference or culture of whatever instead of just looking at them as human beings.
Q) Josh and Craig, outside of Tylerís wild good looks, what was it about him that made him right for the part?
Josh: Well I was a huge fan of his from Shameless. I just loved the way he played the part and heís so grounded, heís so real and it was important for this character to really feel like any - like, I want everyone who watches the show to feel like they know Dan Abraham, which is the name of the character he plays. And Tyler is so fantastic, so grounded, so real, you just - and he - the notion of the everyday man being caught up in this maelstrom of crazy legislation was so compelling to us as writers. And then Tyler was our first choice for the part and when he quickly signed on it really all came together.
Q) Iím wondering if you know why people don't know more about this issue?
Josh: I think that that is a fantastic question and there are so many issues out there and a lot of them become agendas for different groups. And this is an issue that just affects us in the most intimate aspects of our lives, it just - itís procreation, right. Thereís not going to be lobbying groups that care about this. Thereís not going to be big government entities or charitable foundations or organizations that make the way we procreate the number one issue. So this is kind of a bit of homophobia that got into our legal system that really isnít the primary concern of any one group or entity out there. And I think itís ironic that itís taking a little show like Drop Dead Diva and the passion of people like Craig Zadan and Tyler Jacob Moore to get behind it to bring an issue that no one knows about to light. And Iím really proud that this show can expose inherent homophobia in the law and at the same time be entertaining and exciting to the viewer. This is really as much a womanís issue as it is a gay rights issue because in a sense the law - the lawyers are telling women who they can and cannot procreate. Itís okay for a woman to get pregnant - to get artificially inseminated by a drug user, by someone whoís been with a prostitute the night before, to have a one night stand behind a bar without protection. But itís not okay for that same woman to be artificially inseminated by a man who four years and 364 days ago had sex with another man and has since been tested to make sure he carries no diseases. That is not okay, yet all those other examples Iíve given you are okay and thatís kind of mind boggling.
Q) I did a bit of research myself and the FDA started screening in the 1980s and up until now, thereís been no documented cases of HIV on record. And even with that they made this policy in 2005 and I wanted to know in everybodyís opinion is that a case of discrimination or just plain ignorance?
Craig: Well I would say discrimination is ignorance.
Josh: They go hand in hand for me.
Tyler: Yes, I think that absence - you know, ignorance is no excuse in general in life and so I think that also applies to these - to this specific law definitely. And I do - but honestly, I mean, itís hard to think that itís just ignorance when you look at, you know, all the evidence. And if you go on online thereís multiple articles about this and the specifics of HIV testing and how current it is and how, you know, today once you get infected, within 12 days thereís a test - they can test you pretty accurately for HIV. And so, you know, the fact that theyíre denying it to men whoíve had sex with men for five years, you know, back. Thereís not a lot of hard, good science to support that. So, as much as it could be ignorance I think that thereís enough smart people at the FDA and people that know the current science and still for some reason passed this in 2005. So, it is hard just to kind of swallow that and take that and not think that thereís some sort of agenda or something going on.
Craig: Well, I mean, also, you know, I think with discrimination like this we always take, you know, maybe a step forward and then we take a step backwards or many steps backwards. You know, not to get political, I donít want to get political but, for instance, this week with Paul Ryan becoming the vice presidential candidate, he said that if they take office that he wants to repeal Donít Ask Donít Tell. He wants to, you know, put it back into operation the way it was before Obama repealed it in the opposite direction. So - I didnít mean repeal, I mean reinstate. So, can you imagine after all that everybodyís been through with this law getting repealed to reinstate Donít Ask Donít Tell. Itís going to cause the chaos and the madness that would cause in the military by doing that, and yet thatís what heís saying heís going to do. So, when you ask a question about something like this, thereís so much prejudice and ignorance involved, you canít really follow what makes somebody do something like this.
Q) And a policy like this, does this just further stigmatize gay men and perpetuate a stereotype?
Josh: Yes, I believe this - what it does is it codifies prejudice and thatís whatís so scary about having discriminatory laws on our books, because we look to our government to pass laws that are fair and just and when you come across, you know, Title 21 of the FDA Regulations and it really just puts homophobia onto the books. Itís dangerous for our future.
Tyler: Yes, and I just want to say I think that thereís been laws in the past. I mean, every time we get new information and as we go along, I think itís the responsibility and itís the responsibility of the government, FDA, all government entities to update their laws and their books. And I think that laws like these and things like this happen because maybe initially - I mean, you know, weíre not - nobodyís going to deny that yes, statistically HIV is, you know, like, 60 times higher probability in men whoíve had sex with men. But now, the testing is such that thereís no need to have that, itís just hurtful, the law. It serves no purpose other than just another dig at somebody whoís trying to live their lives and, you know, trying to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness but then, you know, laws like this kind of come in. And thereís lots of them, they just kind of dig at the homosexual community and itís just unnecessary. So, yes.
Q) I just wanted to know, do you that one of the reasons why there - this law even exist is because thereís like this inherent homophobia that being gay is, like, transmitted in the genes. That even if there was no talk of HIV, that theyíd find another way to, like, not allow gay men to donate sperm.
Josh: Itís funny, Iíve heard that said before. Oh, we donít want gay people to be donors because then they could be passing on the gay gene. But if you think about that logically, it makes absolutely no sense because for most of history gay men who are open, certainly, have not reproduces. So how would you explain a consistent number of gay men through time, since theyíre not reproducing in general? So I think that itís a great question but I almost feel like the answerís in the question.
Q) For the Midwest mom thatís watching this with her kids, what do you want them to take away from this episode?
Josh: For me, I hope the women - the moms - take away that they should love their children and support their children through whatever obstacles they face. And to know that who a child is, is not a reflection necessarily on how they were raised. Well, let me take that back. We all want the best for our children and if you could accept your child for who they are, youíre giving your child the best chance.
Craig: Also, you know, when I was watching the episode myself when it was done, I thought that - with Joshís writing and Tylerís performance of this character - I thought to myself, is there anybody thatís going to watch this thatís going to object and fell that this is wrong, because, you know, the point thatís being made is so clear and so humanistic that you care about Tyler so much - say Tyler, I mean Tylerís character. But, again, itís the writing and the acting is so strong that it humanizes the story so that I think anybody can watch this episode and understand why the law is ridiculous.
Tyler: I mean, just from the actor perspective and what people should get out of it, I think is that - is the absurdity of it. And I think that moms watching - because typically - I mean, Iím from a, you know, conservative Midwest upbringing and area and I know plenty of people that have a lot of stereotypes and a lot of just fear of the unknown as far as the homosexual community. But, it - you know, for whatever reason, theyíre not around it. They donít have any gay friends, they donít know anybody and the people that they do know - the family that they do know, you know, they kind of move off to a city and are never seen from or heard from again and they donít, you know, they donít communicate. And I think for the moms in, you know, the Midwest and in other areas that are, you know, the - whatever you want to say - the stereotypical American family. What I would Iíd like to see them get out of it is that, you know, this - that we still have these laws on the books. Theyíre still - even as of, you know, as recently as 2005 lawmakers and policy makers are still making laws and doing things that donít make a lot of sense and donít have a lot of scientific backing, but are these quiet - just quiet digs at the homosexual community. And whatever you want to say, whatever your thoughts or personal preferences are about peopleís sexual preference and what people do in their bedrooms, I donít think itís anybodyís business to be passing laws to affect them in that way.
Q) Have any of you had that experience - thatís just something that I love about this show is that the idea that a soul lives on. Where did that come from?
Josh: Sure. Well, the concede of the show, you know, a skinny supermodel in an overweight body, the notion of that... Well, you know, to me I love sinking my teeth into issues of identity, which permeate, I think, every episode of the show. But more importantly, the most influential person in my life growing up was my grandmother who was an overweight, you know, an overweight Holocaust survivor who was 4 foot 11. And I wanted to write a show as a tribute to her and her name was Deb and thatís why I named the characters Deb, was after my grandmother. But I certainly couldnít go to the networks and say I want to write a show about a chubby Jewish short grandmother. So I thought, well how can I take her spirit and infuse it into something, because she did carry herself like a supermodel. She made me believe I could do anything I wanted to do and when she walked I a room people noticed, even though she wasnít a model. So basically, what I did is I took her, you know, and I create the character of Jane with the essence of Deb and Deb being my grandmother. In fact, at the end of every show my logo for the company is a photo of my grandparents at their wedding and then again at their 45th wedding anniversary. Youíll see that after every episode of Drop Dead Diva.
Q) Just a minute ago one of you said something about, you know, government not being in the bedrooms of the country. And Iím Canadian, as well and our former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, at one point when discussing gay rights said the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation and he was a great man. But, there is a point, the Canadian Blood Services also has a ban on accepting blood from homosexual men and they just in the past three years lifted a ban on accepting bone marrow and stem cell transplants from homosexual men. So there is hope. Eventually, it might come for you guys but I was wondering with private donors, like in the show, do you think that there should be a limit to how many donations a man can make to private citizens, because Iím thinking about that doctor in England who donated, like 1,000 to like 1,000 annoying women.
Josh: Well, unknowing is the key question, right. I think a woman should be able to consent to what she thinks is right for her and her body and her future. But she has to have full information. I think most women would not want to be impregnated with a risk of that child then having 1,000 half siblings out there all of whom could be potential partners later in life. Like, thatís the scary part, right.
Q) If someone is independently donating his sperm, should he be registered with an agency so people are aware that he is donating sperm or just willy nilly. No pun intended?
Josh: I mean, Iíll answer that question by saying if a man picks up a woman in a bar and has unprotected sex without a condom, should he be registered? And I donít know if itís - yes. So I guess to me that - if a man is getting genetic tests and specifically make sure that his - the woman is aware of every potential risk she can be up to and itís consensual insemination versus a one night stand without a condom Iíd rather have the tested sperm than the one night stand with a stranger.
Tyler: I just want to say that goes back to the absurdity of the law because typically, you know, especially, you know, lesbian couples who are looking for donors and have, you know, gay men friends who want - I mean, I know of a guy friend that they are doing this - a lesbian female and a gay man are, you know, having a child together and I think they have probably a more in depth process than any, you know, sperm donation clinic on the books. I mean, typically, if youíre going to do something like this, you make sure that whoever you choose is tested and goes through all - HIV testing and blood testing that just points to the absurdity of the law in general because, you know, typically smart people are going to do their due diligence, especially procreation.