Lifetime film continues shooting in metro Detroit

Chris Azzopardi

Since late May, the cast and crew of Lifetime's "Prayers for Bobby" has made metro Detroit its shooting site for the movie adaptation of out journalist Leroy Aarons' classic gay tale – and now they want you. And your cut-off shorts.
"We are looking for a large representation from the gay community," says Rose Gilpin, co-owner of Real Style, a Birmingham-based company hired to recruit Pride parade participants.
They're looking for 1,000 unpaid extras to march down Washington Avenue in Royal Oak on June 17, beginning at 9 a.m. and likely extending through much of the day. Extras should wear '80s clothing, including jean or cut-off shorts, bright tees and rainbow-colored shirts – but no logos or cargos.
"They really wanna make it fun and Mardi Gras-like," Gilpin says.
A select group will be chosen to shoot a funeral scene following the parade, and those interested in participating at a nearby church should bring a simple black outfit to change into.
Executive producers Daniel Sladek, Chris Taaffe and David Permut's longtime-coming project, which began 11 years ago and had several false starts, will finally make its television debut in February on Lifetime, with Sigourney Weaver as the lead. "Prayers for Bobby," which Weaver also co-produces, marks her made-for-TV debut.
"I have to say that I wasn't planning on working, because I was in the middle of a job in L.A. and my daughter's graduating from high school," Weaver tells BTL from the set. "And I really wanted to be at home for the festivities, but I read the script and then I read the book, and I just felt it was so important."
In "Prayers for Bobby," which is based on a true story, Weaver plays Mary Griffith, a devout Christian who learns about her son's gay secret. She pushes prayer on him, but the church's disapproval of homosexuality causes him to grow increasingly depressed – and he's eventually driven to suicide. After his death, she's introduced to the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church – a scene that was shot in Ferndale – and connected with a mother who led her to PFLAG.
The Royal Oak parade shoot, which takes place in San Francisco in the film, is her first journey as a PFLAG mom. "It's more a movie about blind faith and the dangers of blind faith – and not questioning and not thinking and not making your own decisions based on the world we live in," says Sladek, who is openly gay.
In addition to Washington Avenue, Pronto! in Royal Oak, Ferndale High School, Backstreet nightclub in Detroit and a home in Bloomfield have all been settings for the flick. "This is a gay-themed film, so we're making sure that we include as many natural gay locations as possible," Sladek notes.
He says choosing Michigan for the shoot was facilitated by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's recently-passed production tax program (In April, state lawmakers began offering a 40-percent tax credit to film companies that bring their budgets and jobs to Michigan).
"We happen to be making what I think is the very best movie Lifetime has ever made," Sladek says before laughing. "But that's my assumption."
To participate in the parade, call 888-313-8799 or e-mail [email protected]. For more information, visit

Pick up Between The Lines' June 26 issue for coverage on the "Prayers for Bobby" parade shoot and for an exclusive interview with Sigourney Weaver.


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