These days, actor, producer, and author Dan Bucatinsky is best known for his role as James Novak, journalist and husband to White House chief of staff Cyrus Beene on ABC's Scandal. Bucatinsky is also married in real life, and last year penned a book, Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?, about being a gay dad. Among his producing projects are TLC's Who Do You Think You Are? and Showtime's Web Therapy, both of which he works on with producing partner and longtime friend Lisa Kudrow. As Scandal heats up before the big winter season finale, we chatted with Bucatinsky about the show, his career highlight (it involves Oprah), and same-sex marriage.
You recently spoke about same-sex marriage with comedian Wanda Sykes and Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Oprah's Next Chapter. Why do you think Oprah chose you for this panel?
DAN BUCATINSKY: The night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which is a week before the Prime Time Emmy Awards, when I won, which was a complete shock and an extraordinary honor, at the last minute I wound up tossing the speech I had written and just winging it and giving a speech that was from the heart. I panicked and didn't know how much time I had and I wound up thanking my onscreen husband and my real-life husband and the supreme court, and I got choked up because we're living in a time when I can say to everybody that I'm thanking my onscreen husband and my real-life husband. I think because the producers of Oprah's Next Chapter were also nominated, and there at the event, my publicist got a call that said Oprah was putting together this panel of three people to discuss 'Out in Hollywood,' and they included me in that, and I was just absolutely blown away. It was a career highlight for me.
Can you tell us about the experience, what were the big moments?
DB: I think it's a combo platter. A. It's Oprah. It was just mind-blowing . . . I'm having a two-hour, candid, open, no holds barred conversation with Jesse Ferguson, Wanda Sykes, and Oprah about what it means to be gay, what each of our challenges were, what it's like to come out, be out in Hollywood, play gay on television, were we bullied . . . I wrote a book about being a gay dad last year, and we certainly tackled a lot of these topics, but not in a dialogue with other gay actors, and with Oprah . . . Sitting there, I was having an out of body experience, sitting with Oprah and talking about topics that ten, five years ago, in a million years, I wouldn't imagine would be an hour of conversation on television.
Can you tell us what's coming up for you and your costar, Jeff Perry, who plays your onscreen husband, Cyrus Beene, on Scandal?
DB: I can't say much . . . The qualities we have and have always embodied are tested to the absolute limits of what you would imagine a married couple in Washington—one a journalist, one a politician and the chief of staff—are capable of doing given the circumstances they're in.
You're also a published author. What's next on the book front?
DB: Just signed a deal to do the audio book [for Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?], which is really exciting, I'm going to record and have that out hopefully before the holidays. I've spent 20 years doing voiceovers, so now I can let all the worlds collide.