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Fellow Travelers Creator Ron Nyswaner Feted at Palm Springs Walk of Stars

Fellow Travelers Creator Ron Nyswaner Feted at Palm Springs Walk of Stars

When Ron Nyswaner got word he was set to receive a permanent place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, he learned there were options for its final destination.

“I walked up and down Palm Canyon [Drive] one day in April, and I watched all the tourists come out of the restaurants and walk all over people’s names,” the Oscar-nominated writer and Fellow Travelers creator explained. “I’m not sure that I really wanted to be walked on by lots of people, but when I came up here and I saw that there was at least one star near the [LGBTQ Community Center], I knew this was the home for my star.”

That home was unveiled Thursday morning during a dedication ceremony in Palm Springs that featured comments by Nyswaner, close collaborator and Fellow Travelers executive producer Robbie Rogers, the show’s star Jelani Alladin and Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein. The dedication comes on the heels of news of a Peabody Award for the critically acclaimed Showtime series starring Matt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey, Allison Williams and Alladin, among others. It also arrived not long after the 30th anniversary of the seminal film Philadelphia from Nyswaner and director Jonathan Demme.

Since 1992, more than 460 stars honoring entertainers, humanitarians, civic leaders, architects, artists, authors, creators and athletes have been inducted on the sidewalks throughout the desert community with homes on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Not only was Nyswaner allowed to weigh in on location, but he also had thoughts on what the star should say. It says writer, producer and mentor. The first two are “kind of obvious,” he noted, but the latter title is an important one to Nyswaner.

“My mentor was Jonathan who made Philadelphia,” he explained of the filmmaker who got in touch upon reading one of his scripts while Nyswaner was a college student at Columbia University. While that script never got made (or the next one for that matter), they did eventually get Philadelphia off the ground. “What I watched Jonathan do was [lead] with confidence, vision, love and respect, and that went to everybody. Actually, it was announced at the first table read, the first production meeting, that everybody, including the person who was standing out in the street guarding the parking spots, would be treated on this show with love and respect.”

Demme’s example has guided Nyswaner throughout his career and been extended to others on his own projects, and that extended to the set of Fellow Travelers, he added. Underneath writer, producer and mentor, Nyswaner’s star also reads “Beyond Measure.” He closed his speech by talking about the significance of that phrase, which serves as the title of episode six of Fellow Travelers and pops up in dialogue between Bomer’s Hawkins Fuller and Bailey’s Tim Laughlin.

“As much as we become annoyed and frightened, and maybe even discouraged by our fellow human beings, real love that is beyond measure is not when you love people who think like you — that’s easy,” he explained. “But it’s when…you try in some way to love and respect people who don’t think the way you think. That is, I think, the genuine role of those of us who are ahead of the others. … That’s our job, to change the world from a place of love and respect.”

Fellow Travelers Jelani Alladin, Robbie Rogers and Ron Nyswaner.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Paramount+

Mayor Bernstein got emotional at the podium while detailing his experience seeing and being moved by Philadelphia in 1993. At the time, he was an entertainment executive working in the cable industry and had started the advocacy group Cable Positive to help raise money and resources in the fight against HIV and AIDS. He praised Nyswaner for captivating audiences worldwide “with his exceptional storytelling,” and declared May 30, 2024, as Ron Nyswaner Day in the City of Palm Springs. Following the dedication, the itinerary for Ron Nyswaner Day continued with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception at local hotspot Eight4Nine.

During his comments, Fellow Travelers star Alladin challenged the perception of who is considered a star as it is assumed that stars are often the people who are front and center, the loudest person on set “or the prettiest.”

“Where this default assumption has failed us is that that star is nothing without the genius mind of innovation that had the vision to put them in the spotlight in the first place. The true star of any piece of art is its creator, the mind and spirit that out of thin air creates living, breathing characters, transports us to unexplored worlds and above all provides the ingredients for human catharsis,” he said. “Ron, you are unlike any other that has passed through this Earth. You are singular in your passion for love and your fierce dedication to equity and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ peoples in everything your hands touch. You are a living example of what it means to take action to tend to gardens of creativity that blossom into sweet fruit for all to relish in. We honestly should be giving you 15 stars, one for each of the indelible words that you’ve given us, and I can only hope that there’s more to come.”

Rogers, who worked closely with Nyswaner on Fellow Travelers, said he first encountered him nine years ago. “We worked on a film called My Policeman, which is a script that is really a piece of art. I’m not a writer, but even when I’m writing a love letter to my husband or a birthday card, I read it for inspiration,” Rogers explained. He went on to credit Nyswaner not for his long list of credits but for the way he moves about the world, both on set and beyond.

“What makes him incredibly special is that he has so much empathy,” Rogers continued. “Empathy for everyone, for his characters and all of his writing. It’s really fitting that his star is here, in front of the [LGBTQ Center]. There will be so many people, like the characters that he writes, who will find themselves at different moments in their lives, whether they’re a little down or they need help and it’s complicated. They will be able to come here and see Ron’s star and be inspired. They’ll go in and watch one of his shows, read his book, read one of his scripts and be reminded that life is complicated, people are complicated but they’re all worthy of love and redemption.”

Dax Davis, Ron Nyswaner and Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Paramount+

Ron Nyswaner and Robbie Rogers share a laugh.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Paramount+

Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein and Ron Nyswaner.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Paramount+



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