New ‘Independent Lens’ Film Explores ‘The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin’

Independent Lens, Untold Tales of Armistead Maupi, higlights
Courtesy of Armistead Maupin
Armistead Maupin

Long before Will & Grace, Armistead Maupin introduced the public to tales of gay and straight friends living and loving in a big city. The author’s 1970s fictional serial in the San Francisco Chronicle “read like a titillating soap opera,” says filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot, who profiled the writer (above) for this new documentary.

Premiering on PBS’s Independent Lens, the film explores Maupin’s life, which has had its own TV-worthy twists and turns. Raised in North Carolina, he served in Vietnam before he moved to California, came out and found great success in publishing.

Friends such as Laura Linney (who starred in the TV adaptation of his Tales of the City series) dish too. But it’s Maupin who reveals the juiciest details, like his affair with late actor Rock Hudson! “When we showed the film in theaters, I’d listen to the audience gasp,” Kroot says. “It takes people’s breath away.”

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, Monday, Jan. 1, 10:30/9:30c, PBS (check local listings at