By Jada Butler
Asst. News Editor
Noticed the cameras positioned around campus during the second week of the semester? Ish Entertainment and Keshet Studios are bringing the hit YouTube series “My Gay Roommate” to television with the setting of LIU Post campus. Based on the real life stories of Tufts University roommates, Noam Ash and Austin Bening, “My Gay Roommate” (MGR) follows the story of their friendship, despite their differing sexual orientations.
Pilot episode filming began on Saturday, Jan. 21 and continued until Tuesday night. Most cast members are well known actors within the New York theater community. Approximately 100 Post students were hired as extras for cafeteria and party scenes. Scenes were filmed in the Hillwood dining area, Nassau and South Resident Green Halls, the Lecture Hall in Hillwood and the Chapel.
“We had to do a whole bunch of takes of this scene even though it was very simple,” Adam Silverstein, social work major, said. He and approximately 25 other students filmed a cafeteria scene in Hillwood. “It really made us realize how much time and work goes into producing episodes of TV shows.”
After shooting the scenes, the extras signed permission slips and were rewarded with free pizza. Silverstein and a few extras had the chance to sit and talk with one of the producers for the show. “It was a very fun and interesting experience and I’m looking forward to seeing the completed pilot,” he said.
So what makes LIU Post the perfect setting? “The story is based on a quintessential, New England type college campus,” Jasmine Vargas, production manager for the pilot shoot, said. “The staff is great to work with, and it helps that [LIU] has done TV before,” she continued.
In the past LIU Post has had the independent films “Adrift;” “Independents;” “Captain of the Land of Tomorrow;” TV shows such as NBC’s “Blindspot;” TBS’s “The Detour;” CBS’s “Madame Secretary” and “Hostages and “The Rewrite” movie with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei, filmed on campus, according to Associate Director of Conference Services Kathy Mendall, who oversees many of the projects.
The story began in Boston, Mass. Ash and Bening became close friends during their college years together. Friends of Ash described their relationship similar to “an old married couple.” Because Ash was gay, his friends assumed he had a crush on his straight roommate.
“Despite Tufts being a liberal and open college, there was still speculation,” said Ash, the now 25 year old star and writer for MGR. During their college years, Ash said, “That a gay guy and a straight guy could be best friends still seemed novel.”
Both Ash and Bening wrote the script and acted in the show for the web series, but only Ash will be starring in the tv series. Bening assisted in writing the pilot script, but has moved on to other projects.
‘My Gay Roommate’ began in Nov. 2012 and ended in its third season on YouTube two years ago. Hollywood Vanity Fair magazine announced in an interview with Ash and Bening in Feb. 2016 that the show was receiving offers by premium online networks.
“Right now we are filming the pilot, then we have to find out where to air it,” said Ash. Ash has been living with this show for five years in the hopes of it reaching a major entertainment network. It is a dream come true to see it air on TV.
“It’s a part of the revolution to bring gay to TV,” Ash said. But the story is set in a post-revolution era. “There are two male leads – one is gay and one is straight – and that’s the two least interesting things about them,” he said.