Leon Acord felt something was missing in television involving a specific niche of gay men.
"There has never been a show with gay men my age," Acord told SFGN. "So I thought, let's write a show about people who talk the way people I know talk, who still have sex and are flawed.''
The result was Old Dogs New Tricks, a web sitcom about middle-aged, gay men navigating the often harsh dating scene in West Hollywood, CA. Acord, who has an extensive resume of stage credits, wanted to show viewers that gay men "of a certain age" could be as vibrant, and as sexy, as their more youthful counterparts. As a working actor, he was also looking to create roles that he and his friends could play.
Old Dogs follows the comedic exploits of Nathan Adler, a 50-year-old agent who's not yet over the hill. Like many gay men, Adler and his sweet if somewhat awkward friends pursue the often elusive Mr. Right.
"I created these four characters in one night," Acord said. "Once I started writing it was like channeling. I put these characters in a room and they told me what to say. I have never enjoyed writing so much."
The show's first season was well received by viewers, and was particularly embraced by the older crowd, many of whom were thirsty to see gay male portrayals that they could relate to. The cast included Thom Bierdz, the openly gay actor/artist well known for his portrayal of Philip Chancellor on the popular daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Philip came out in a much-publicized storyline a few years back, and was promptly relegated to back burner status. On a show that featured an unusually high bed-hopping count, Philip remained strangely celibate. This wasn't the case for Bobby, Bierdz's Old Dogs character.
SFGN asked Bierdz if he thought his Y & R fan base would be surprised to see him playing such and overtly sexual role.
"Yes," the actor replied in an email. "And me too! This dialogue is racy!"
Acord promised that season two of Old Dogs New Tricks will be funnier, and sexier than the freshman year.
"All four of us get substantial sack time in the second season. Season one was about finding out how much we could get away with. Season two is about pushing those borders even further. Even though I wrote it, I find myself blushing when watching the edits,” he said. “There's a double standard, I think, about what you can show in a straight sex scene versus a gay one. I'm out to shatter that double standard."
Among the storylines to be featured in season two will be Nathan's emergence as a gay "cougar".
Twenty-something actor Ryland Shelton plays Nathan’s “boy toy.” Both actors assured SFGN that these scenes would be steamy.
"Buckle your seatbelts," Shelton said.
But what about a potential "generation gap" on the set between Shelton and his older co-stars?
"Everyone on set was a total pro," Shelton replied. "I never got babied. And if a conversation comes up that I have no idea about, I just laugh and take off my shirt."
Shelton gave high marks to his director and co-star.
"I hope I'm not ruining his super-bitch reputation, but Leon is one of the humblest and most adaptable people that I've ever worked with,” he said. “I come to him with questions, problems, worries, all of it. And he says 'okay, lets talk about a fix.'"
Season two promises to be a star-studded affair. In addition to the returning Thom Bierdz, there will be appearances by General Hospital heartthrob Ian Buchanan, openly gay character actor Michael Kearns, and a big gay wedding in which one of the grooms will be portrayed by Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis.
"I'm getting goose bumps," said Acord. "Within two years it's gone from an idea in my head to something that forty people are working on and thousands are watching."
Season One of Old Dogs New Tricks can be viewed in its entirety at the show's website. To watch the show, go to www.olddogsnewtrickstheseries.com
Season two episodes are currently being uploaded.