Common Ground (2000 film)

Common Ground
Directed by Donna Deitch
Produced by Brian Kerwin
A.D. Oppenheim
Written by Paula Vogel (segment "A Friend of Dorothy's")
Terrence McNally (segment "Mr. Roberts")
Harvey Fierstein (segment "Andy & Amos")
Starring Brittany Murphy
Jason Priestley
Steven Weber
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Edward Asner
James LeGros
Distributed by Showtime
Release dates
January 29, 2000 (2000-01-29)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Common Ground is a 2000 Showtime television movie directed by Donna Deitch and written by Paula Vogel, Terrence McNally and Harvey Fierstein.


A Friend of Dorothy's was written by Paula Vogel; Mr. Roberts was written by Terrence McNally; and Andy & Amos was written by Harvey Fierstein.[1][2][3]

The plays star Brittany Murphy, Jason Priestley, Steven Weber, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Edward Asner and James LeGros. The film contains three short stories about gay Americans during different time periods in the fictional town of Homer, Connecticut, and their efforts to find "common ground" or respect from the heterosexual majority.[3]


"A Friend of Dorothy's"

In the 1950s, Dorothy Nelson (Brittany Murphy) joins the United States Navy where she meets the Friends of Dorothy, a code name for a group of gay and lesbian sailors. Nelson meets Billy (Jason Priestley), who takes her to an interracial nightclub that tolerates gay people. However, the NCIS raids the nightclub, and Nelson is among those servicemembers who receive a Section 8 discharge for "sexual perversion." Returning to Homer, she tries to restart her life as a public school teacher, but her Section 8 discharge prevents her from getting a job. When her homosexuality becomes public knowledge, her mother expels her from the house, forcing her to seek shelter at a family friend's grocery store. However, the townspeople disapprove of this arrangement, and Nelson becomes homeless. An independent-minded woman named Janet (Helen Shaver) at the local diner defends her against the verbal harassment and advises Nelson to go to the bohemian Greenwich Village, the only place where she might be free to be herself.

"Mr. Roberts"

The second story flashes forward to the town of Homer in the 1970s, towards the end of the Vietnam War. There a closeted gay high school French language teacher, Mr. Roberts (Steven Weber), has a student named Tobias Anderson, nicknamed Toby, (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) who is on the verge of coming out of the closet, and who he suspects wishes to confide in him. Roberts must keep his homosexuality a secret for the fear of losing his job, but his live-in boyfriend Gus (Scott McCord) pressures him to set a good example for the students by illustrating the importance of tolerance and justice. Toby visits a prostitute on the advice of his swimming coach, with the idea that she can help him "become a man", but rather instead gives him some good advice about being himself.

After Toby is sexually assaulted by bullies and is discovered by Roberts, Roberts then himself comes out to his students and lectures them on the evils of bias-motivated hatred. Toby graduates from high school and leaves Homer to attend college in the big city.

"Andy and Amos"

The final short story takes place in the present day (2000), when a father and the townspeople have to come to terms with the fact that two men will be getting married during a commitment ceremony to be held in the town. Ira (Ed Asner), the father, is planning to lead a protest march against the wedding, while his son, Amos (James LeGros), is nervous about getting married and going against the cultural stereotype of gay men. The film ends on a positive note, with father and son reconciling and the wedding taking place as scheduled.



  1. Jones, Kenneth. "Ferstein, Vogel & McNally Pen TV Playlets About Gay Life for Showtime Drama Jan. 29" Playbill, January 28, 2000
  2. " Common Ground Overview" The New York Times, accessed March 1, 2016
  3. 1 2 Zahed, Ramin. "Review: ‘Common Ground’" Variety, January 27, 2000

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