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Stars take a chance on Russian writer-director and his low-budget comedy, 'Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, [email protected]

An expert's advice for aspiring filmmakers: "If a comedy is doing its job, you leave feeling differently about the world," according to Bruce Vilanch, a six-time Emmy winner who's written for Bette Midler and just about every big star on the Oscars since 1991.

Vilanch, a Hollywood Squares alumnus, also acts and most recently co-starred with Lainie Kazan, Saul Rubinek, John Lloyd Young, Jai Rodriguez and Carmen Electra in a low-budget comedy called Oy Vey! My Son is Gay! -- about an older Jewish couple (Kazan and Rubinek) horrified to discover their adult son (Young) is never going to marry a nice Jewish girl.

"It's not a movie for radical queers. This is a movie made from the point of view of the older generation, which tends to think in stereotypes and use stereotypes themselves," says Vilanch, 62, who -- stereotypically -- is gay, Jewish and a bit flamboyant.

Rodriguez, 31, who plays the Jewish son's Italian boyfriend, agrees: "The movie, to me, is reflective of other communities than New York. In smaller communities, these are issues still being faced."

Oy Vey! is directed and co-written by Russian-born Evgeny Afineevsky, 38, also gay and Jewish.

Rodriguez describes Afineevsky as "a persuasive, persuasive man" who convinced him and the other stars to join the project.

Vilanch says Afineevsky spent about 10 years "chasing me around."

"He had this script," Vilanch says. "Then I was doing Hairspray [on Broadway] and he kept showing up at the theater. He wanted me to play Uncle Max. If someone wants to pay me to act, well, let me look at this now!"

He plays Kazan's married (to a woman) gay brother. Vilanch wanted to tone down his outrageous image for the part, but Afineevsky told him to keep his trademark platinum blond bangs: "Because I'm so butch and they didn't want me to change my look," Vilanch says.

Afineevsky also managed to bring superstar songwriter Desmond Child on board as executive producer of Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!

"I just loved the title," says Child, Ricky Martin's longtime collaborator. "The
title says it all. It sounds hysterical!"

Child co-wrote The Word is Love, performed on the Oy Vey! soundtrack by To Sir With Love singer Lulu.

"It's one of my dreams to take the property and turn it into a Broadway show," says Child, 57, who lives in Miami Beach and Nashville with longtime partner Curtis Shaw and their 8-year-old twins. "Hopefully, it will be everyone else's dream too. It's a very gay dream."

IF YOU GO

Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!' opens Friday in South Florida at Regal South Beach, Sunrise Intracoastal Cinema in North Miami Beach, AMC Aventura at Aventura Mall, Regal Shadowood in Boca Raton and Regal Cinemas in Delray Beach.

Bruce Vilanch will appear at the 12:10 p.m. Friday screening at Regal South Beach 18, 1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Writer-director Evgeny Afineevsky will appear at all Regal South Beach screenings on Friday.

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Are you sure that he is an alumni? I mean, he is big, but most people are only alumnus.

Fred, you are correct. Fixed!

As an L.A.-based actress who got her start in (and deeply loves) SoFla, I had the great privilege of working on this film in the capacity of a lovely supporting role (with the added joy of improvising my dialogue on-camera--THANK YOU, Evgeny!). I wanted to chime in and say that the energy on the set was wonderful, that Evgeny's and producer Lana's passion for the project was contagious, and that it was one of the most high-vibrational projects I've worked on--even with the worst-snowstorm-in-23-years arriving right at the end of filming. As you already know, the process of bringing this script to the screen was quite a journey. Most of us on set were aware of this, and it was great to be a part of the realization of a dream...and a project with one of the best messages on the planet. Happily, I'm in South Florida visiting family--and was in a theater seat tonight. Bravo, all!

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