Program 32: The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin
Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot and Bill Weber
One of the most famous and beloved LGBT authors around, Armistead Maupin is perhaps best known as the writer behind Tales of the City. Serialized fictional stories that initially appeared on the inside back page of the San Francisco Chronicle during the 1970s, these tales eventually grew into a popular series of novels. While his writing is well-known, there’s much about Armistead Maupin himself which fans might not know – until now.
The great-great-grandson of a Confederate general and the son of a white supremacist, it was perhaps only natural that in his youth, Armistead was quite conservative. After flunking out of law school, Maupin’s father helped get him his first writing job, working for Jesse Helms. Maupin continued to embrace conservatism, “because I was terrified of who I was.”
Things changed when Maupin left the Navy and moved to San Francisco, where he began writing for the Chronicle. Tales of the City resonated with readers, regardless of sexual orientation. It became so popular that it eventually was adapted into a wildly successful PBS television series. In a cruel twist, however, Tales of the City was eventually killed by PBS over the show’s racy (for the time) content which led Maupin’s former boss, Jesse Helms, to threaten defunding the NEA and PBS.
Despite the adoration of many, Maupin’s career has not been without controversy. Some gay men were shattered by the AIDS-related death of one of the Tales characters (the first character in fiction to die of the disease). Maupin was also criticized by some for publicly “outing” celebrities such as Rock Hudson (with whom Maupin had an affair) and Lily Tomlin.
Whether one is familiar with Maupin and his work or not, this fascinating film invites the viewer to get to know the man behind the Tales. Laura Linney, Charles Busch, Olympia Dukakis, and Margaret Cho are among the luminaries who offer insight into the author’s life and work. Maupin himself is extensively featured, allowing the audience to hear his story through his own words. Certainly these previously untold tales are not to be missed!
— Christopher Roesch
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- JURY AWARD, Best Documentary – OUTshine Miami LGBT Film Festival
- AUDIENCE AWARD, Best Documentary – FilmOut San Diego
- AUDIENCE AWARD, Documentary Spotlight – SXSW Film Festival
- SPECTRUM AUDIENCE AWARD – Nashville Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION, Opening Night – Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival