Tony Kushner Re Ed Koch In 2003: “Oblivion Is What He Deserves”


In 2003, Poz magazine assigned me to interview Tony Kushner about the HBO adaptation of his prize-winning epic of AIDS, fear, and self-loathing, Angels In America.

Having seen the TV movie, I mentioned to Kushner that it was quite faithful to the play, though the line that outed Ed Koch–which brought down the house every time on Broadway–was noticeably absent.

Replied Kushner (who’s currently Oscar-nominated for the adapted screenplay of Lincoln):

“I don’t know if that was gone in the screenplay or taken out in editing.

“Maybe the [filmmakers] figured no one knows who Ed is anymore, which would be a lovely thing to believe.

“Oblivion is what Ed deserves.

“When the play was on Broadway, a New York name lawyer who’s a friend of Koch’s asked me if I’d please take the line out because it was really hurting Ed’s feelings. I left it in.

“It was mean to do, but I really hated him.

“He’s such a ghastly man and such a betrayer of the progressive vision he rose to prominence on. He became such a reactionary blimp.”

Ed must have been thrilled that the line was cut from the TV movie, and yet irked that he wasn’t asked to play Roy Cohn!

Meanwhile, here’s what And Humm has to say in Gay City News about Koch’s closeted legacy.

And here is Matthew Hays‘s recollection of his provocative interview with Koch, where he asked all the hard questions.