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LOS ANGELES – In the new CBS sitcom “Partners,” Michael Urie of “Ugly Betty” fame gets a hunky boyfriend.
Urie (Louie) is paired with Brandon Routh (Wyatt), who played the Man of Steel in “Superman Returns” (2006).
“He's supercute and a bog ol' tree trunk of a man,” Urie describes Routh to Entertainment Weekly. “He plays the character's aloofness perfecty. He was so brilliant as Clark Kent, so this is basically a sitcom version of that.”
Urie, 32, is best known for his campy role as Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty,” the hit comedy that ran on ABC from 2006 to 2010. He publicly outed himself on his website in 2009 when he called himself a member of the LGBT community, and a year later he told The Advocate that he was in a relationship with a man.
In “Partners,” Urie gets top billing with David Krumholtz (Joe), whose love interest will be played by Sophia Bush (Ali). The new sitcom is being helmed by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, creators of “Will & Grace,” a groundbreaking gay sitcom that was a hit on NBC from 1998 to 2006. Adding to the TV royalty behind the show is James Burrows, the Emmy-winning director of sitcoms such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Cheers" and "Friends."
The plot plays out like a “bromance,” as Louie and Joe are lifelong friends who now are partners in an architecture firm. But when the boys get new love interests, their friendship and their business are tested by the new relationships that have changed the dynamics in their lives.
Urie told Entertainment Weekly that he hopes the show will rain down the laughs while educating audiences about gay-straight friendships.
“There are places in the country where straight people still don't understand how to be friends with a gay man and I think if they catch out show, it can be what ‘Will & Grace’ was for those types of folks,” Urie said.
“Where ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Glee’ were able to tackle serious social issues about coming out, this show is much further along in the character's lives,” he added. “We're meeting them in midlife, so it'll be less of an issue show and more of a lead-by-example show, I hope.”
Urie told the media this week that Louie is like a grown-up version of Marc St. James. “That guy was so much fun,” Urie said. “There was so much freedom for us on that show. This is much more about relationships. It’s far more real.”
The creators are the real-life version of "Partners." Kohan is straight and Mutchnick is gay. Kohan has a daughter, and Mutchnick and his spouse Erik Hyman have twin girls. In a tease this week, TV critics were told that the three girls would play triplets in an upcoming episode in which Joe and Luis are asked to baby-sit for friends.
So far, "Partners" has flown under the radar of anti-gay activists, unlike NBC's "The New Normal," an edgy sitcom about a gay couple who want a baby and which is the subject of a boycott by right-wingers.
“Partners” debuts on Monday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 pm on CBS.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.