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Sean Hayes wants to steer clear of "Newsweek drama"

Posted by Emily Yahr

After breaking his silence on the Newsweek controversy during an appearance on "The View" last week, it appears Sean Hayes wants to run as far away as possible from the subject.

On a conference call with reporters Wednesday to discuss his hosting of this Sunday's Tony Awards, Hayes quickly shot down reporters who dared to bring up the now-infamous Newsweek article in which associate editor Ramin Setoodeh used what he called Hayes's "wooden and insincere" performance in Broadway show "Promises, Promises," as an example to demonstrate why gay actors have trouble pulling off heterosexual character roles.

Hayes's outraged "Promises" co-star Kristin Chenoweth publicly came to his defense; as did former co-star Megan Mullally, who played Karen in NBC's "Will & Grace," the comedy for which Hayes is most well known.

Hayes has stayed mostly silent on the topic, except for that "View" appearance last Thursday. After some badgering from the co-hosts, Hayes said that it seemed Setoodeh didn't know "what his point was" with the article, and in addition to being "young and inexperienced," Setoodeh "doesn't know what it means to be an artist."

On the call, reporters eagerly dove right into the fray.

"What did you think as that controversy was expanding...and about the way the column singled out your performance as a validation of his theory?" the first wondered innocently.

"Well, if you don't mind, I'd rather focus on the Tonys and 'Promises,'" replied Hayes flatly. He is also nominated for best lead-actor performance in a musical.

But the intrepid reporter pressed on. "Well I think it's kind of ironic with the validation of Kristin Chenoweth and the way people ran to your defense that you are nominated for an award for a performance that got so much criticism -- "

"Yeah, Kristin's great, it's a pleasure working with her every day," Hayes interrupted briskly.

When the second reporter got on the line, you could practically hear the ice forming on the telephone line.

"I just think that the Tonys, with everyone so excited with you hosting, and to also have "Glee" stars Matthew [Morrison] and Lea [Michele] performing, do you think it sends a clear message considering everything going on with the Newsweek drama?" the reporter asked.

There was silence for a few seconds. "Did you hear -- were you on the -- can everybody hear all the questions?" Hayes said, no longer hiding any impatience. "If you don't mind, I'd rather just focus on the Tonys and 'Promises.'"

Nearly every other reporter cleared the heck out of the way of that line of questioning to avoid turning the call into a complete trainwreck, and brought up less hot button topics. That included "Hot in Cleveland," the new TV Land show that Hayes is producing, and asking whether Betty White -- who stars in "Cleveland" -- will making an appearance at the Tony Awards. (The answer: No.)

Finally, toward the end of the call, one reporter went wild. "I understand you don't want to talk about the whole Newsweek thing," the reporter said. "I'm just wondering if you are planning on a TV show or a story coming up where you are going to talk about it so we can hear your side of it, and a little bit more of what you thought of the support and stuff."

Hayes insisted that no, he had no plans for a tell-all interview.

However, during the call, we couldn't help asking Hayes if he will bring up the Newsweek kerfuffle during the Tony Awards, in a comical or serious way.

"You'll have to tune in, " he replied mysteriously.

So despite all evidence to the contrary, we're officially intrigued.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  June 9, 2010; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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Are there more than 20 people interested in this story, or the Tony Awards?

I am mystified how that awards show scares up a sponsor every year.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | June 9, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean that nobody else does. I'm mystified that the ratings for the NBA and NFL are as high as they are. Why does anyone want to spend their lives watching overpaid divas chase a ball?

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | June 9, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I proudly proclaim myself to be the only straight man in America that watches the Tonys every year instead of the NBA finals. Hayes was wonderful in 'Promises, Promises' and I think it's right of him to avoid the topic of the Newsweek article since it was critical of him and anything he says would come off as petty. He's taking the high road and should be applauded for it.

And with Glee stars at the ceremony perhaps ratings will reverse their annual decline.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 11, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

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