11-11-1985

Gena Rowlands and Aidan Quinn

After a year of cold feet, “An Early Frost” airs on NBC. Writers Dan Lipman and Ron Cowen (later to produce “Sisters” and “Queer as Folk”) attempt to create the first TV movie to deal with both homosexuality and the impact of AIDS on a beleaguered community of Gay men.

Starring Aidan Quinn, Gena Rowlands, Sylvia Sidney and Ben Gazzara, the suburban Pierson family not only deals with closeted workaholic son Nick’s dual secret (along with the unfaithfulness of his partner Peter), but also the anger, resentment and frustrations of mother Kate and sister Susan. While it draws an amazing 1/3 of the viewing audience, the daring broadcast loses NBC about a half million dollars in ad revenue.

And while many consider the broadcast a success, others feel the film’s directness stalls nationwide discussion of AIDS, “because it achieved its narrative and informational goals so well.”