"Merv Griffin was gay."
So says Ray Richmond, entertainment columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, in a controversial "outing" that in four words sticks it to the TMZ-type bottomfeeders before they have a chance to make the great man into a joke. They're four words that are causing debate around the world this morning. But coming from Ray Richmond, they're not sensational, not titillating. Just the decent thing to say.
Ray is no Michelangelo Signorile, who in decades past outed powerful closet cases as a way of stirring up gay pride and exposing hypocrisy.
He's one of the most straight-talking, hard-hitting, no-BS, Pulitzer-worthy journos in the business, an incisive voice of decency with a reputation as a conscience of the industry.
He also knew Merv well, having worked as a talent coordinator and segment producer on The Merv Griffin Show in the 1980s. "Around the office, the boss's being gay was merely a fact of life, understood but rarely discussed (and certainly never with him)," Ray writes matter-of-factly in THR and on his essential Past Deadline site in a post titled "Griffin never revealed the man behind the curtain" (nice Wizard of Oz imagery, by the way).
"As it was, I loved the guy," Ray adds. But not in that way!