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John Ritter's son plays gay character on CBS' 'The McCarthys'
by Angelique Smith

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On Nov. 10, Windy City Times participated in a conference call with actor Tyler Ritter ( son of the late, great John Ritter ) and show creator Brian Gallivan, where they discussed their new comedy on CBS, The McCarthys.

The McCarthys is "based on Brian Gallivan's real-life Boston family, and [Ritter] plays the character inspired by Brian's life, Ronny McCarthy. As a young gay man with no interest in sports, Ronny stands out a bit in his family, and even though the McCarthys are often an abrasive and loud bunch, at their core they are a loving and a supportive family that many families can relate to each week." In addition to Ritter, it also stars Laurie Metcalf ( Roseanne ) and Joey McIntyre ( from the boy band New Kids on the Block ).

—Brian Gallivan on being a fan of Windy City Times: "First of all, I want to say that I used to read Windy City Times when I lived in Chicago. I was there from 2003 to 2007, and working at Second City, which was sort of my first time of creating gay characters for a larger audience."

—Tyler Ritter on what it was about the script and the character that made it the right fit: "Just looking at that first pilot, you get a sense that this is a unique sitcom. ... The jokes are there, the unique sense of humor. But there's a lot of heart in this show. There's also a lot of dysfunction kind of covering that heart but, at the end of the day, you can feel safe with this family because you see that they really, truly love each other."

—Brian Gallivan on getting actress Laurie Metcalf to sign on: "She is amazing, and I've been a huge fan for years. I lived in Chicago for a while and my gay friends there, we always just referred to her so reverentially as The Calf. So when her name came up, I said, 'Well, I think she'd be amazing.' I had to get on the phone with her and try, you know, to woo her a bit. But, she had seen some videos I've done called 'Sassy Gay Friend' on YouTube, and she was a fan of those and that was so flattering to me."

—Brian Gallivan on which TV shows he watched growing up: "I've told Tyler this: I was not allowed to watch Three's Company because my mom thought it was fresh. But my brother's basketball games were on Tuesday nights, so often we would be left home, my sister and I, and we would sneak and watch Three's Company when we were little. My family loved Cheers, of course, because it was set in Boston [and] because it was such a good show. We had Jean Smart on an episode recently, and I'm a huge Designing Women fan."

—Tyler Ritter on whether dad John Ritter ever encouraged him to pursue show business: "No, I never got to have the conversation with him about pursuing it professionally. But, I had countless other conversations about pursuing any other dreams that I may or may not have. You know, baseball was a big connection for the two of us, we went to a lot of games together. We were like the kind of traditional father and son; we played catch every time we'd spend time together, and he taught me to swing and all that stuff. So his philosophy behind pursuing [anything] … was always that if you put in the work and you prepared behind the scenes, you'll be able to relax when it counts the most. He just made it look so effortless, and now that I have this job, I get it even on a deeper level."

—Brian Gallivan on the portrayal of LGBT characters on the small screen: "It's tough to be, like, 'Oh, I want the character to portray this segment of the gay population.' But, you know, week to week, certain jokes that hit on the gay part of Ronny's life, I'll be like, 'No,' and I can't always explain why, [or] 'Yes, that's good, I like that.' Because I'm just enjoying sort of getting someone who is like me on TV.

I know there's a lot of talk about stereotypes. I was a writer for Happy Endings, and we had a character named Max who was a very straight actor. And, you know, that was really fun and interesting, too. We had the character Phillip, the gay church singer in our pilot, and some people have said, 'He's a stereotype.' And Jeff Hiller, the actor, is a good friend of mine and he isn't that far from Phillip in how he is in life. But he said to me, 'It seems like I'm too gay to get cast as a gay character on television,' which is a funny line but kind of a sad situation to be in.

So, to me, I'd like to just get as many types of gay characters on TV as possible, including flamboyant characters that some people say are stereotypical or throwbacks … because some of the people I favor in the world are flamboyant, effeminate gay men, and I certainly have my flamboyant and effeminate moments. I just want to make sure we don't all swing the other way and say it has to be all straight-acting gay men."

Catch new episodes Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

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