By Jeff Walsh
Former teen actor Brock Pierce, whom you might remember from his starring role in First Kid (which also starred Sinbad as the security guard protecting the President's son), is moving from in front of the camera to behind the scenes as the producer for Chad's World.
Chad's World can potentially change the cultural landscape for queer teens online, moving us beyond the printed pages (not that we at Oasis think there's a problem with that medium, mind you) to target marketed television shows. Episodes of the show, which come out every two weeks, will be available as large downloads or streaming video. They will also be available for purchase on DVD, CD-ROM and video tape.
So, what exactly is Chad's World? Here's how Pierce, 17, and living on his own in Los Angeles, Calif., who produces the show for the Digital Entertainment Network, describes it.
"Chad's World is a show on the Internet targeted for gay teenagers. I would say it's the first and only show created for gay teenagers," he said. "A boy named Chad starts out living in Michigan. His best friend, Paul, is trying to decide if he should come out or not to his parents. He decides he's going to come out to his parents, and his parents are right-wing type, Midwest-type parents, and they don't take it very well."
Paul decides to take his life after his parents say they'd rather have a dead son than a gay son.
"The reason we put him there is to basically say that there are other options, because it is a big deal that people face," Pierce said. "The parents of Paul blame it on Chad. They say 'it's all you fault. He's like this because of you.' So, he decides he's going to move out with his older brother, and his older brother's partner, Jim, that live in California, in a mansion-type setting."
Chad's new life in California is the setting for the series.
"He's out here, and it's him dealing with the coming-of-age, sexuality, everything," he said. "Anything all teenagers will face and trying to decide whether he's gay, straight, bi, he doesn't know, but whatever it is, it's OK to be whoever you are."
Pierce's own sexuality is also rather fluid.
"I'm not, at the moment, seeing anyone, so whether it's a girl or a guy... I don't want to eliminate myself from seeing anyone, because I like all people," he said.
As a point of clarification, despite not wanting to give any more detail, he said that the issues in Chad's World are not foreign to him.
"I can say I'm very familiar with the issues gay teenagers face, very familiar," Pierce said.
Pierce is willing to come out regarding the direction of his acting career, however.
"As an actor, I'm retired. I think I gave it up. Producing was the next step in the evolution of my career," he said. "I wouldn't say I was ever a great actor, it was just the drive I had. I wanted to do it. And it worked."
Chad's World will initially have eight shows, which will launch sometime in the middle of this month. An actor named Brian Stark plays Chad (pictured at right). The show will be available from the Digital Entertainment Network's site, but the plan is to expand the show and grant other Web sites "affiliate licenses" to rebroadcast the show. Each episode will include commercials as part of the transmission.
Pierce said he's the right age and at the right time to launch such a show.
"The Internet is my era. It's my generation that does it better than any generation," he said. "When I grew up is when it started."