NCIS' Pauley Perrette and more of TV's biggest stars are banding together for a one-time performance of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation and stand up for gay rights.
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The play is a sequel to The Laramie Project, which was based on the reactions of people in Laramie, Wyo., after Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was murdered there in 1998. The new production revisits the townspeople a decade later and also portrays an interview with one of Shepard's killers.
The new play began performances across the country on Oct. 12. Perrette said she was approached by a member of her church, Hollywood United Methodist Church, about putting together a reading of the play there. Pretty soon, Perrette's NCIS co-star Michael Weatherly, The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, House's Lisa Edelstein, Dexter's Julie Benz, Heroes' Zachary Quinto and Emmy winner Christian Clemenson were all on board.
"We have so many people from so many different shows, which is fun," Perrette toldTVGuide.com. "Everyone we called was like, 'I'm in.' It's really incredible. We're just extremely excited, and it's really amazing to have that many people come together to do something that's important."
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The reading is planned to coincide with a book signing and speaking appearance by Shepard's mother, Judy. All proceeds go to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which promotes antiviolence toward the gay and lesbian community. Perrette, who describes herself as an "outspoken civil rights activist who never shuts up," says it's important for people to stand up and be heard.
"With so much going on with Prop. 8 and everything else right now, LGBT civil rights activism is what's most necessary," Perrette said. "In the women's movement, women needed men to stand up and say this isn't right. In the civil rights of the '60s, it took people of all color to demand equal rights. And in this case, it takes straight chicks like me to demand equal rights for everybody."
Perrette also said it is incumbent on the government to make changes. "I believe that what is legislated bleeds down into everything," she says. "So if the legislation continues to uphold anything that doesn't support equal rights and civil rights, that bleeds down into Matthew Shepard being murdered."
Coincidentally, moments after we interviewed Perrette, news broke that the Senate passed a hate-crimes amendment that was partly inspired by Shepard's murder.
The star-studded performance of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later will be held Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Hollywood United Methodist Church at 1:30 pm/PT. Click here for more information.