It comes as not-so-shocking news that Queer as Folk's fifth season, debuting on Showtime in May, will be its last. (That sound you hear is the red states rejoicing.) However, executive producers Daniel Lipman and Ron Cowen say they've already written a can't-miss finale for the groundbreaking gay drama's die-hard fans. "We can't speak for everyone," Lipman says, "but we're happy with how we tie things up.
"Queer was designed to be a five-year show," he adds. "Everyone feels we have successfully fulfilled what we set out to do, based on our original intention. We have other projects in the works, so hopefully we'll cause as much controversy as Queer has, but there will never be another show on TV like Queer as Folk — ever."
One much-anticipated story line is Rosie O'Donnell's three-episode arc, details of which are being kept hush-hush. "Rosie will blow you away," Lipman promises. "When we found out she was a huge fan of the show, we crafted her a fantastic story line involving Sharon Gless (Debbie)."
Meanwhile, the cast looks forward to saying goodbye to their fictional lives in Toronto, er... we mean Pittsburgh. TV Guide Online spoke to the cast — minus the extremely press-shy Gale Harold (Brian) — about the bittersweet news...Peter Paige (Emmett): "My emotions are mixed. After five years of investigating one character, I am obviously excited about changing things up creatively. That being said, this is a very melancholy time. But I'm not sure I would make it another season in those leather pants! I want to continue acting, but I've got the directing bug bad. Ideally, I'd like to see myself in another series situation, with a substantial role, [while] directing episodes and [dictating] story. The next few months will be about getting my new movie, Say Uncle, and myself out there. After that, my production company has been developing a couple of TV series and another movie." Scott Lowell (Ted): "I will definitely be happy to say 'so long' to Ted. While he's a character I have a great deal of affection for, the psychological weight of playing him has taken its toll over the past five years. I mean, there's only so much unhappiness, torture and humiliation one man can go through!" Thea Gill (Lindsay): "We had an idea the series wouldn't [last longer than] five seasons. I'm kind of distancing myself from thinking of taping the final episode because, once the show is over, I'll go through a severe depression. Only down the road will [we see] how important and influential this show really was to the social and creative landscape. It's changed a lot of people's lives. Which is why part of me wants to look at the Hollywood system as unfair. Why haven't we been nominated for an Emmy Award? Part of me says it is homophobia. Of course, the other half says it's fair and we just didn't make the cut. But take our stronger episodes and compare them to The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, and we're right up there in all those aspects, especially the acting. Our show is one of the best on TV, so it just baffles me [we never got recognition from our peers]." Robert Gant (Ben): "I have a production company with actor Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), so this is an opportunity to pursue other movie and TV roles. I'm lucky that I came onto the show later on [in the series], so I don't think I'll be as identified with my role as much as the [original] cast [will probably be]. I'm hoping I won't be seen as 'that gay actor on that gay series.' I want to play all kinds of roles, straight and gay. Having said that, this was an important show that brought the word 'queer' to TV, long before there was a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I doubt it will be respected for its achievements now, but down the road, people will really see what trailblazers we were." Sharon Gless (Debbie): "I love working in Toronto, but I won't miss it because I plan on still living here. I really fell in love with the city and made a lot of great friends. Working with Rosie O'Donnell as my costar this season was definitely one of the highlights, and I hope she brings more attention to the show, especially in its last season. Fans are going to love the story line we have for her. I love this show, and I never understood why it wasn't respected or recognized by the industry. I'll miss Debbie, for sure — but I'll always carry her in my heart." Randy Harrison (Justin): "I planned on saying goodbye regardless if the series was renewed. Justin finally grows up and gains some self-confidence this season, which I think he has been lacking. I'm passionate about theater, and I'm looking forward to tackling the stage full-time. I feel most comfortable in that medium, as well as independent film." Hal Sparks (Michael): "There is a genuinely proud feeling of completing a [show with this kind of social relevance], but I'm certainly looking forward to tackling new roles and projects. People who know me know I always have irons in the fire. Thanks to Queer and VH1, several of them are getting hot at once. I would [ideally] like to move into action and comedy features. It will happen."