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Art Imitates Life as NEA Four Member Guests on 'Sanders' : The arts: Performer Tim Miller gets the hook on Garry Shandling's fictional TV talk show. 'It's kind of about the whole dilemma that I've experienced.'

July 30, 1993|SHAUNA SNOW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a case of television imitating art, Los Angeles performance artist Tim Miller--one of the so-called NEA Four who was denied a 1990 National Endowment for the Arts grant for his homosexual-themed work--will appear in an episode of HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," to air in late August or September.

In the episode, written specifically with the NEA Four in mind, Miller appears on the fictional talk show of Larry Sanders (played by Garry Shandling) doing gay material culled from his current shows. (Unlike many of Miller's live performances, no nudity is involved.)

In what Miller describes as a commentary on self-censorship, the performance gets cut from the fictional show, which then takes heat as Miller becomes a hit on competing shows.

"It's kind of about the whole dilemma that I've experienced," Miller says. "It talks about what actually fits within (broadcast) standards and practices, and the script shows that self-censorship is the worst part of this whole thing."

Meanwhile, Highways, the Santa Monica performance space Miller co-founded and serves as artistic director, is a hot source for TV comedy these days.

Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton, who performs at Highways through Sunday, will appear on Thursday's "Arsenio Hall Show." Clinton follows in the footsteps of Lea DeLaria, another Highways performer, who broke the gay barrier when she performed on "Arsenio" in March.

Says Miller: "Suddenly it feels like they can put these (gay and lesbian performers) on TV. In part it's because issues around lesbian and gay identity and access are so forward in our culture now. . . . And it really goes along with our mission as performers, which is to stop the silence and break down as many barriers as possible."

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