LOS ANGELES, March 22 (UPI) -- The NBC comedy "Whoopi" takes on same-sex marriage in an episode this week that features arguments for and against the practice, but the show ends up more or less endorsing it.
Goldberg stars as Mavis Rae, a former recording artist with one hit to her name, who owns and operates a hotel in New York City. In the episode, she is caught in the middle when she agrees to host a lesbian wedding for her cousin at the same time that her conservative Republican brother has scheduled a meeting of the Republican Inclusion Coalition.
According to promotional material from NBC, "the outspoken Mavis steers a middle course and remains an equal opportunity offender."
That is generally the case with the episode, but in the end the lesbian couple gets married and the conservatives just have to live with their objections.
In a conference call with entertainment reporters, Goldberg said she wasn't trying to push one side or the other in the debate over same-sex marriage, but rather that she was just trying to get the issue aired.
"Mostly I just want people to listen, because there's a lot of different ideas out there, lots of different thought patterns," she said. "And before we make any edicts for the country ... I think it's important for us to take a really good look at this (issue)."
When Goldberg launched her show last fall, she said she wanted it to function in much the same way as socially-conscious comedies like "All in the Family" had in the past -- using comedy to examine important issues.
"We have a wonderful forum in that we can deal with these subjects with a sense of humor, sort of a clear idea that we are passing ideas around and that no idea should be shut down," she said. "You should be able to discuss it and say, 'I respectfully disagree,' and hear all kinds of reasoning from people."
Whether Goldberg's approach is connecting with viewers sufficiently to merit a second season on the air remains to be seen.
"Mostly we're just hoping we get a pickup," she said. "We have two more shows to do and then the wait begins, and we'll see what the future brings us."
The same-sex marriage episode may benefit from fortuitous timing, coming just as public awareness of the issue has hit a new crest. With same-sex unions being performed in several places in the United States and the swift and intense political reaction that followed, the issue has been on the front pages for several weeks.
Goldberg said the show's writers -- whose credits also include "That '70s Show" and "3rd Rock from the Sun" -- have been working on the script for this episode for months.
"It's taken a little while to get the script just right for us," she said. "It's not an easy subject to deal with because everyone has an opinion. That's what the episode is, it's everybody's opinion about it. We don't say yea or nay, we don't make any decisions for people -- we just point a lot off stuff out and let folks deal with it on their own."
While Goldberg and company wait to hear from NBC about the show's future, the Oscar-winning star of "Ghost" and "Sister Act" said she has no idea what she might do next. She has been interested for some time in starring in a remake of "A Face in the Crowd" -- the 1957 drama in which Andy Griffith made his film debut as a likeable hobo who becomes an unlikely media star and turns into a ruthless egomaniac.
"I'm at that awkward actor stage where there's not that many scripts coming in my direction, and certainly I don't have the choice of them," she said. "But if left to my own devices, that definitely would be one I would do."
However, Goldberg said there are no plans right now to go forward with the project.
"Warner Bros. holds the rights and I forget who's attached to (star in) it," she said, "but it's not me."
In the meantime, Goldberg is looking forward to a second season of "Whoopi" -- and making fun of both the political left and right.
"Because both are equally chock full of stuff to laugh at," she said. "If we get a pickup, we'll probably have a lot of fun before November."