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On was a different kind of show—never mean-spirited, nor gratuitous for the sake of ratings.
"She put a staff together that reflected her sensibility," Newman says.
But after receiving network approval and initial support, Newman and Stark got to work writing what was at first jokingly referred to as "The Puppy Episode," a title that would help keep the storyline under wraps (or, as De Generes put it recently, "because we wanted to keep it a secret until it aired and because 'Ellen Throws Her Career Away' seemed too on the nose").
The story, which De Generes herself pitched, follows Ellen Morgan as she meets up with an old friend, Richard, who is in town for work. It wasn't like any of us were totally hiding it in Hollywood—we just weren't out publicly." Etheridge, who came out in 1993, says that De Generes asked her to have dinner one night, at Hollywood's Orso. '" Having been through it herself, Etheridge was encouraging, and gave De Generes the following advice: "It's really great—you'll end up talking about being gay a lot, and it's a little uncomfortable for a while, but ultimately it's really cool."Then Etheridge became a part of the episode, after De Generes invited her to play herself in a now famous scene at the end of the episode.
What feels more commonplace today—celebrities regularly acknowledging a range of sexual identities on social media and playing queer roles on comedies, dramas and Oscar-winning films—was not par for the course two decades ago.
Yet De Generes wanted to be an out gay woman playing an out gay character leading her own primetime sitcom, something that had never happened before: a huge risk for not only her but anyone involved, including parent company ABC/Disney.
In that context, when a television star tells a multi-million dollar studio network that she wants to do something as forthright as profess her homosexuality to a still unforgiving world—that's bold.
"Before we started breaking stories for the season, she had a party at her house and called all the writers together, and said, 'This season, I want to come out.
Q&A session on Monday evening, the only male celebrity ever linked to Ellen De Generes responded to rumours that he once dated the Emmy-winning talk show host.’” "And my fear was that no, no they wouldn’t, and then it made me feel ashamed that I was hiding something.""It made me feel ashamed that I couldn’t feel honest and really be who I am, and I just didn’t want to pretend to be somebody else anymore so that people would like me."Following her decision to step into the role of her true self, Ellen then went on to pursue the love of her life, Portia de Rossi.Ellen reportedly met the Australian beauty in 2000, and although their chemistry was tangible, they decided not to act upon it.Newman wasn't privy to the conversations De Generes had with the higher-ups at Disney and ABC. ' I mean, without batting an eye—that's the story I heard.But she remembers the rumors: When studio heads Michael Eisner and Mike Ovitz got onto the topic of "Somebody in the room said, 'Well, I don't know if you know this, but Ellen's gay, and she just recently said she doesn't want to have shows about her dating anymore,'" Newman says. Mike Ovitz said, 'Don't even think about it.' And then Eisner said, 'Well, then get her a puppy.'"Of course, there was no puppy.
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It wasn’t until 2004 that their love really began to flourish. And it was very hard for me to get her out of my mind after that,” Portia said in an interview in On May 16th, 2008, Ellen announced perhaps her best news yet on her talk show."Yesterday, if you haven't heard, the California Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage,” she began.